SOC 310 – Weber Option One

Weber Essay Option 1: Rationality In the “Prefatory Remarks” Weber explains why he thinks Western culture is unique and requiring special explanation. He begins by listing unique Western cultural products and arguing that they are all manifestations of a shared rational “frame of mind.” However, Weber does not give us an explicit definition of rationality. Briefly summarize his examples of unique Western cultural products and then, considering these examples together, think of what they have in common. Come up with three or four qualities that, for Weber, might define this mindset of rationality, and explain why they fit his examples. Next, consider Weber’s more in-depth arguments about “rational capitalism.” For Weber, what are the key features of rational capitalism, and what distinguishes it from “irrational forms,” such as “adventure capitalism?” Skim the article “Capitalism in the New Russia.” Compare Weber’s “ideal type” of rational capitalism to the one that emerged in the transition to “capitalism” in the post-Soviet era. In what ways does the situation in Russia fall short of Weber’s definition of rational capitalism? How has this contributed to the country’s troubles? What would move Russian Post-Soviet capitalism closer to Weber’s “rational” capitalism?” Point Breakdown: Word count + Formatting + General Readability/Organization (10%) Summary of Weber’s examples of what makes the West different (15%) Discussion of 3-4 qualities of “rationality” that these examples have in common (25%) Summary of key features of rational capitalism, and contrast to “irrational forms” (25%) Comparison of Weber’s ideal type of rational capitalism with post-Soviet capitalism (15%) Consequences of post-Soviet capitalism and prescription (10%)

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