Max Weber was born on April 21, 1864, and was together with Marks and Durkheim, one of the founding fathers of modern sociology. Unlike Durkheim who was a positivist based on Comte’s view, Weber was a marked anti-positivist.
the main problem that he mainly posed was that of understanding what kind of process drives society to organize itself, and what mechanisms lead an individual to organize itself based on it.
Weber argues that “social action” is the set of behaviors that man has towards other men, while “social action” is individual behavior. It must be emphasized that a social action does not necessarily consist in “a doing”, because also “not doing” (therefore omitting an action) is in effect a social action.
Therefore social action is defined as the single behavior of a man, even omissive, which refers to other men.
Max Weber noted that the whole of society is made up of interactions, whether between individuals, organizations or groups, the main element being reciprocity. An interaction, stable, continuous over time, creates a bond between individuals whereby the behavior of one takes into account the behavior of another and so on. So our way of behaving changes, tending to expect certain behaviors of the individual in the relationship. Weber summarizes this with the term social relationship and identifies 4 forms:
1) Stable relationship: kinship or friendship.
2) Momentary relationship: a simple greeting with a person met on the street.
3) Cooperative relationship: compatible if different objectives (for example, I buy the newspaper to read it, the newsagent buys it to earn money).
4) Conflict relationship: same goal but in conflict (example, a boxing match).
A common element among social relationships is the tendency to crystallize certain behaviors and repeat them with more or less rigid patterns. The progressive tightening of relations takes the name of “institutionalization”.
Repetition, on the other hand, is a sort of instinct that man uses to face his life. In fact, without custom, life would be tiring.
Typing is the crystallization of behavior for many individuals. That is, that behavior/habit does not identify that person as it can be reproduced by everyone.
We speak of an institution when the action becomes objective, that is, it has value regardless of who carries it out. For example, imagine that a wise old man is present in a village and that everyone goes to him to ask for advice. The elder dies, so the village goes to the other older individual, and so on. At that point the action of going to the elderly was institutionalized. This now stable action becomes external to the individual, therefore objective. Society today is strongly characterized by institutionalized relationships.
We notice the institutions from the members who are there make them visible through their role (eg, traffic warden or bus driver). This is possible thanks to the coercive force of institutions that create role models. Depending on the geographical position of the institutions in which we find ourselves, we assume different behaviors, which indicate our social position as if they were signals. A social position can be filled by anyone, as long as they meet certain minimum requirements, as they change depending on the role.
The role is made up of something to do and not to do, and this does not depend on the person but on the position. In the course of our life, we play completely different roles, sometimes even in contrast.
In every institution, there are norms that before they were institutionalized actions. Generally, the conduct of the individual fits the norms, but for those who do not adapt there are penalties.
The social group is a set of people who feel they are part of it and identify themselves as part of that group. There are 2 types of groups:
1) Primary group: made up of a small group of people, with very flexible roles, and interact directly with each other involving the personality of the individual.
2) Secondary group: made up of a large group of people, who have depersonalized relationships, governed by fixed and structured rules. However, this is not always the case, because there is a tendency to form small, narrower friendship groups.
Organizations are made up of secondary social groups, which organizational structure is efficient thanks to their standardizing roles. They work together for a common purpose, and the division of labor is rigorous.