This book aims to provide a compact introduction to the widely ranging work of one of the most profound thinkers of the twentieth century. Intended primarily for introductory sociology, social science, and political science courses and for theory courses in sociology and political science, it will perhaps have applications also to courses in public administration, the sociology of organization, social stratification, political sociology, and the sociology of religion. Its major use may well be as a way of inducing students who have heard of Weber to actually read him. This convenient compilation of presently available translations will best justify itself by encouraging the student to read Weber more fully in the twelve volumes of his writings that have been published in English.
The first two chapters display Weber's theoretical and methodological approaches. The selections in Chapter 1 discuss the concepts that are fundamental to Weber's analysis, centering on his interpretation of "social relationship." The following chapter deals with his use of the tool of the ideal-type. These approaches are then employed in Chapter 3, which presents selections from Weber's most famous work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. This chapter is followed by selections from his comparative religion studies, which develop the theme of The Protestant Ethic. Much of Weber's current influence rests in his analysis of social stratification and the political order; consequently, the readings in Chapter 5 are from the well-known discussion of class, status, and party; they are followed in Chapter 6 by the analysis of the sources and types of political legitimacy, tradition, charisma, and bureaucracy. The final chapter deals with some of Weber's penetrating comments on the German political scene which havce significance for today.