Hermeneutika

HANS-GEORG GADAMER (1900-2002): IGAZSÁG ÉS MÓDSZER (1960)

Kulcsszavak: hermeneutika, nyelvfilozófia, esztétika, interpretáció*

A hermeneutika univerzális nézőpontja (részletek)

Meggondolásainkat az vezérelte, hogy a nyelv médium – közép –, melyben az Én és a világ egyesül, vagy jobban mondva, eredeti összetartozásában mutatkozik meg. Azt is kifejtettük, hogy a nyelvnek ez a spekulatív médiuma miként jelent véges történést a fogalom dialektikus közvetítésével szemben.

Valamennyi elemzett esetben, a beszélgetés, a költészet és az értelmezés nyelvében megmutatkozott a nyelv spekulatív struktúrája, az, hogy a nyelv nem valami szilárd adottság leképezése, hanem szóhoz jutás, melyben egy értelemegész szólal meg. Most felismerjük, hogy ez a beszédfordulat – magának a dolognak a tevékenységéről, az értelem megszólalásáról – univerzális-ontológiai* struktúrára utal, ti. mindannak az alapstruktúrájára, amire a megértés egyáltalán irányulhat. A megérthető lét – nyelv. A hermeneutikai jelenség itt úgyszólván saját univerzalitását vetíti vissza a megértettek létstruktúrájára, amikor ezt univerzális* értelemben nyelvként, a létezőre való saját vonatkozását pedig interpretációként határozza meg. Hiszen például nemcsak a művészet, hanem a természet nyelvéről, sőt, egyáltalán a dolgok nyelvéről is beszélünk.

Tehát teljes joggal szólhatunk hermeneutikai beszélgetésről. De akkor ebből az következik, hogy a hermeneutikai beszélgetésnek, hasonlóan az igazi beszélgetéshez, közös nyelvet kell kidolgoznia, s ennek a közös nyelvnek a kidolgozása ugyanúgy nem valamiféle eszköznek az elkészítése, mely a megértetés célját szolgálja, mint a beszélgetésben, hanem magának a megértésnek és a megértetésnek a végrehajtásával esik egybe. Ennek a „beszélgetésnek” a partnerei között is kommunikáció megy végbe, miként két személy között, s ez a kommunikáció több mint puszta alkalmazkodás. A szöveg egy dolgot szólaltat meg, de hogy ezt teszi, az végső soron az interpretáló teljesítménye. Mindkettőjüknek része van benne.

Ez persze nem azt jelenti, hogy a szöveg esetében a hermeneutikai szituáció teljesen hasonló ahhoz, amely két beszélgetőpartner közt áll fenn. Hiszen az írott szövegek esetében „tartósan rögzített életmegnyilvánulásokról” van szó, melyeket meg kell érteni, s ez azt jelenti, hogy a hermeneutikai beszélgetés egyik résztvevője, a szöveg, egyáltalán csak a másik partner, az interpretátor révén jut szóhoz.

Az írott jeleket csak az interpretátor változtatja vissza értelemmé. De azáltal, hogy az interpretáló az írásjelet megértéssé változtatja vissza, maga a dolog szólal meg, amelyről a szöveg beszél. Mint a valóságos beszélgetésben, itt is a közös dolog kapcsolja össze egymással a partnereket, jelen esetben a szöveget és az interpretálót. Ahogy a tolmácsként szereplő fordító csak azáltal teszi lehetővé a beszélgetésben a kölcsönös megértést, hogy ő is részt vesz a megtárgyalt  dologban, úgy a szöveg esetében is elengedhetetlen előfeltétel, hogy az interpretátor részt vegyen a szöveg értelmében.

Tehát amit egy szöveg mond, az nem hasonlítható valamiféle rendíthetetlenül és makacsul védett állásponthoz, mely azt, aki megértésre törekszik, csupán arra az egyetlen kérdésre ösztönözné, hogy hogy lehet a másiknak ilyen abszurd véleménye. Egészen bizonyos, hogy a megértés ebben az értelemben nem „történeti megértés”, mely a szöveg keletkezését rekonstruálná. Ellenkezőleg: magát a szöveget akarjuk megérteni. Ez pedig azt jelenti, hogy az interpretáló saját gondolatai is mindig eleve benne vannak a szövegértelem újraélesztésében. Ennyiben az interpretátor saját horizontja a meghatározó, de ez sem úgy, mint valamiféle saját álláspont, amelyet megőrzünk vagy érvényesítünk, hanem inkább úgy, mint valami vélemény vagy lehetőség, melyet játékba hozunk és kockára teszünk, és segít bennünket, hogy valóban elsajátítsuk azt, amit a szövegben mondanak. Fentebb ezt horizont-összeolvadásként írtuk le. Most felismerjük, hogy ez a beszélgetés végrehajtási formája, a beszélgetésé, melyben egy dolog fejeződik ki, mely nemcsak az enyém vagy a szerzőé, hanem közös dolog.

A beszélgetés nyelviségének minden megértés szempontjából rendszertani jelentősége van, melynek előfeltételét a német romantika teremtette meg. Megtanultuk tıle, hogy a megértés és az értelmezés végsősoron ugyanaz. Mint láttuk, az interpretáció fogalma, melynek a 18. században pedagógiai jelentősége volt, csak ennek a felismerésnek a következtében lépett előre, s foglalta el rendszertani helyét. Ezt a helyet az a kulcspozíció jellemzi, melyet a nyelv problémája vívott ki magának egyáltalán a filozófiai kérdésfeltevés szempontjából.

A romantika óta már nem képzelhetjük úgy a dolgot, hogy az értelmező fogalmak kívülről csatlakoznak a megértéshez, hogy a mindenkori igényeknek megfelelően vesszük elő őket valamiféle nyelvi raktárból, ahol készen állnak, ha erre szükség van a megértés közvetlenségéhez. Ellenkezőleg: a nyelv az az egyetemes közeg, amelyben maga a megértés történik. A megértés végrehajtási formája az értelmezés. Ezzel a megállapítással nem azt akarjuk mondani, hogy nem létezik a kifejezés sajátos problémája. A szöveg nyelve és az értelmező nyelve közti különbség, vagy az a szakadék, amely a fordítót az eredetitől elválasztja, egyáltalán nem másodlagos kérdés. Ellenkezőleg, a nyelvi kifejezés problémái már magának a megértésnek a problémái. Minden megértés értelmezés, és minden értelmezés egy nyelv közegében bontakozik ki, mely a tárgyat akarja megszólaltatni, s ugyanakkor mégis az értelmező saját nyelve.

Így tehát kiderül, hogy a hermeneutikai probléma egyik különös esete a gondolkodás és a nyelv általános viszonyának, melynek rejtélyes bensőségességét épp az okozza, hogy a nyelv benne rejlik a gondolkodásban. A beszélgetéshez hasonlóan az értelmezés is a kérdés és a válasz dialektikájába zárt kör.

A nyelv közegében igazi történeti életviszonyulás megy végbe, s így ezt szövegek értelmezése esetén is beszélgetésnek nevezhetjük. A megértés nyelvisége a hatástörténeti tudat konkréciója.

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Kutya személyisége

A kutyafajtáknak nincs személyiségük

Varga-Molnár Orsolya

követés

2019. február 10., vasárnap 14:3

Attól, hogy egy kutyafajtára bizonyos tulajdonságok jellemzőek, még nem jelenti azt, hogy mindegyikük garantáltan olyan lesz. Személyiségük ugyanis az egyes egyedeknek van, nem pedig a fajtáknak.

Több száz kutyafajta van a világon, melyeket eredetileg valamilyen feladatra tenyésztettek ki. A többségnél az volt az elsődleges, hogy képes legyen megfelelően ellátni a funkcióját, ám sok fajtánál a külső megjelenés is nagy hangsúlyt kapott. Sok fajta azóta munkanélkülivé vált (hiszen nem kell lovaskocsit kísérni vagy épp marhákat a vágóhídra terelni), így aztán napjainkra a küllem még fontosabb lett, és a munkakutyák egy része családi kedvenccé vedlett át.

Amikor egy fajtára gondolunk, akkor – elsősorban a médiának köszönhetően – megjelenik bennünk egy kép, például hogy egy retriever mennyire könnyen kezelhető, vagy hogy egy vizslának milyen hatalmas mozgásigénye van. Hajlamosak vagyunk azt feltételezni, hogy a fajtának minden egyedére ugyanazok a tulajdonságok jellemzőek, és ha egy olyan kutyát viszünk haza, akkor biztos olyan is lesz. 

A fajtáknak vannak jellemző tulajdonságaik, de az egy fajtába tartozó kutyák között is nagy különbségek lehetnek

„A személyiség kifejezésnek sokféle köznapi használata van, a viselkedéstudományban azonban pontos definíciója van, és az egyedekre vonatkozik. Azaz csak egyednek, legyen az kutya vagy cserebogár lehet személyisége. Az egyed személyisége alatt olyan személyiségvonások összességét értjük, amelyek térben és időben állandóak, és ezért jellemzők az egyedre” – mondja dr. Miklósi Ádám, az ELTE Etológia Tanszékének vezetője, illetve annak a kutyaetológiai könyvnek a szerzője, melyet blogjában Bekoff is idéz. „Kutyafajtákra gondolva az a helyes megfogalmazás, hogy vannak olyan viselkedési jellegek, amelyek esetében ezek a fajták különböznek. Így például vannak jellemzően aktívabb és kevésbé aktív fajták, de itt is előfordulhat, hogy az aktívabb fajta egyes egyedei kevésbé aktívak, mint a kevésbé aktív fajta aktívabb egyedei. Figyelembe kell ugyanis venni, hogy a kinézetbeli hasonlóság ellenére (ami a legfontosabb szempont a tenyésztésben), az egyazon fajtához tartozó kutyák viselkedésében nagy eltérések lehetnek. Ezért nem szerencsés a gazdáknak azt sugallni, hogy egy fajta egyenlő egy típussal.”

Válasszunk tudatosan!

Akinek kutyája van, és gyakran találkozik más kutyásokkal, az valószínűleg pontosan tudja, hogy milyen nagy eltérések lehetnek az azonos fajtába tartozó kutyák viselkedése között. Nekem például egy francia juhászkutyám van (beauceron), amelyikre alapvetően az a jellemző, hogy idegenekkel szemben tartózkodóan viselkedik. Ehhez képest mindig nagy meglepetést okoz, amikor Nathan gond nélkül elkezd barátkozni másokkal, hamarabb, mint a golden retrieverem.

Amikor tehát kutyát szeretnénk, akkor ne csak a fajtát vegyük figyelembe, hanem a konkrét (kis)kutya tulajdonságait, mondjuk el a tenyésztőnek vagy az örökbe adó szervezetnek, hogy milyen céllal szeretnénk kutyát (például partnert a sportoláshoz vagy egy nyugodt társat a gyerekek mellé), és ő ezek alapján ki tudja választani, hogy melyik az, amelyik a leginkább hozzánk való. Ezzel lényegesen megkönnyíthetjük az életünket, és elkerülhetjük a kellemetlen meglepetéseket – például azt, amikor a könnyen kezelhető fajtájúnak gondolt kutyuskánk a valóságban meglepően önfejűnek bizonyul.

Jellegzetes részlet A. Schütz elméletéből

Részlet Schütz elméletéből

Forrás: TAMOP 4.2.5 Pályázat könyvei

Szociológiaelmélet

Julius Morel, Eva Bauer, Meleghy Tamás, Heinz-Jürgen Niedenzu, Mac Preglau, Helmut Staubmann (2000) Osiris Kiadó

Részlet

3. Az életvilág elemzése

A következőkben megpróbáljuk áttekinteni Alfred Schütz általános szociológiáját, s ismertetni a mindennapi értelemértelmezési és -tételezési folyamatokról adott elemzését. A középpontban annak taglalása áll, amit Schütz, Husserl nyomán az életvilág struktúráinak nevez. Elsősorban azé a világé, amelyben „a természetes beállítódásban tapasztaljuk a természetet, a kultúrát és a társadalmat, állást foglalunk ezek tárgyaival kapcsolatban, azok befolyásolnak bennünket, mi meg hatunk rájuk. Ebben a beállítódásban az életvilág létezését és tartalmainak tipikáját minden további nélkül kétségbevonhatatlanul adottnak fogadjuk el” … Mivel ez a „természetes beállítódás” és a világtapasztalás neki megfelelő módja jellemző a mindennapok észlelésére és cselekvésére, Schütz ezt a világot a mindennapok világa fogalommal jelöli.

A szociológia szempontjából mármost azért érdekes ez a mindennapi világ, mert az, Schütz szerint az interszubjektívkultúra világa: „Interszubjektív, mert úgy élünk benne, mint ember az emberek között, akikhez közös ténykedésekkel és munkával kapcsolódunk, akiket megértünk, s akik megértenek bennünket. Kulturális világ, mert a köznapi élet világa kezdettől fogva jelentésteli univerzum, tehát értelemösszefüggés, amelyet értelmeznünk kell ahhoz, hogy kiismerjük magunkat benne, és tisztába jöjjünk vele” …

A mindennapi élet világának mint az interszubjektív kultúra világának elemzésével a 3.1. részben foglalkozunk.

Az emberi értelemértelmezési és -tételezési képesség azonban nem merül ki a mindennapi világon belüli észleléssel és cselekvéssel. Az emberi szellem más területeken is otthon van, az értelemteli tevékenység más formái iránt is elkötelezett – említsük meg csak a képzelet világát, az álomvilágot, a tudományos elmélet világát. Az életvilág elméletét ezért Schütz a sokféle valóság elméletével bővítette és egészítette ki, amelynek erről a többi értelemtartományról kell számot adnia .. A sokféle valóság ezen elméletével a 3.2. részben foglalkozunk.

3.1. A mindennapi világ valósága

a) Helyzetmeghatározás és cselekvés a mindennapokban

A mindennapokban uralkodó természetes beállítódásban a tapasztalati világ léte és ígyléte, valamint a reá való hatás lehetősége minden további nélkül adottnak számítanak – a gondolkodás és a cselekvés, mint Schütz mondja, alapvetően két idealizáció alapján zajlik: az és így tovább, illetve a meg tudom ismételni idealizációja alapján: „Az első ahhoz a feltevéshez vezet, hogy ami eddigi tapasztalásunkban érvényesnek bizonyult, az továbbra is érvényes marad; a második ahhoz a várakozáshoz, hogy amit ebben a világban és erre a világra hatva eddig el tudtam végezni, azt a jövőben újból és újból véghez tudom vinni”…

Most azt ismertetjük, hogyan észleli a természetes beállítódásban az egyén tapasztalati világát, és hogyan hat rá cselekvése során.

Az egyén először azzal a feladattal kerül szembe, hogy meg kell ismernie a valóság készen talált szeletét, az abban található tárgyakat és azok mineműségét; W. I. Thomas amerikai szociológus nyomán Schütz a helyzetmeghatározás szükségességéről beszél.

Hogyan történik ez a helyzetmeghatározás? Schütz szerint világunk minden értelmezése „saját vagy szüleink vagy tanáraink által közvetített korai világtapasztalatok készletére támaszkodik, amelyek »rendelkezésre álló tudásként« vonatkoztatási sémát alkotnak” … Ennek a rendelkezésre álló tudásnak vagy kéznél levő tudáskészletnek és a benne felhalmozott tipikának (lehetséges tárgyak és tulajdonságok tipológiája) köszönhető, hogy a világ nem rendezetlen, körvonalak nélküli káosznak mutatkozik számunkra, hanem úgy, mint többé vagy kevésbé már közelről ismert, otthonos és rendezett világ.

A tér dimenziójában például azt tapasztaljuk a világról, hogy az egy általunk megváltoztatható és kezelhető tényleges hatókörű világra és egy potenciális hatókörű világra tagolódik, ez utóbbiban pedig elkülönül egy olyan szektor, amely korábban hatókörünkben volt (visszaállítható hatókör) és egy másik szektor, amely valamikor a hatókörünkben lesz (elérhető hatókör). Az idő dimenziójában azt tapasztaljuk, hogy a világ múltra, élő jelenre és jövőre tagolódik …

Mint már tudjuk, a rendelkezésre álló tudásban felhalmozott típusosság fényében egyetlen tárgyat sem elszigetelten észlelünk, hanem mint olyasmit, ami „eleve az otthonosság és ismerősség horizontjába ágyazódik” …

Természetesen nem minden tárgyat ismerünk egyformán jól. Tudásunk a világról pontossága szerint otthonos tudásra, ismertségre és puszta hitre tagolódik. Otthonos tudáson Schütz azt a tudásterületet érti, amelyben „alapos […] ismeretünk nemcsak a »mi«-ről és a »hogyan«-ról van, hanem a »miért«-et is értjük”, amelyben tehát szakértők vagyunk (például a telefonműszerész tudása arról, hogyan működik a telefon). Az ismertség fokán viszont a tudás „csak a »mi«-re irányul, és nem kérdez rá a »hogyan«-ra” (például a telefonhasználó tudása, aki tudja, mit kell tennie, ha valaki másnak akar tárcsázni, de azt már nem, hogyan és miért működik a telefon). Ott, ahol még a miről sem tudok, kezdődik a puszta hit szférája, amely „a jól megalapozottságtól, a valószínűségen, az ismerősségen, az idegen tekintélybe vetett bizalmon, a vak elfogadáson át egészen tökéletes tudatlanságig számtalan módon tagolódik” …

Ha mármost meghatározott helyen és időben s meghatározott cél érdekében próbáljuk kiismerni magunkat a világban, akkor észlelő tevékenységünk az észlelt tárgynak mindig csak bizonyos oldalaira összpontosul, a többit pedig figyelmen kívül hagyja. Adott helyzetben például csakis azért érdekelhet bizonyos kő, mert rá lehet ülni; ebben a pillanatban nem lényeges számomra, hogy fel is tudnám emelni, és ütőszerszámnak vagy hajítóeszköznek használhatnám.

Az érdeklődés, amely figyelmem irányát meghatározza, egyrészt életrajzilag meghatározott helyzetemből fakad, amelyben „nemcsak a fizikai tér és a kozmikus idő keretei között, nemcsak a társadalmi rendszeren belüli státusra és szerepre vonatkozóan” van bizonyos helyem, hanem „erkölcsi és ideológiai álláspontom” is van … Érdeklődésem, amely a kőre mint ülőalkalmatosságra irányul, például azzal is összefügghet, hogy éppen vidéken vagyok (fizikai tér) szabadságon (kozmikus idő), a turisták rendszerint sétákat tesznek (státus és szerep), helyénvaló letelepedni, ha az ember fáradt (erkölcsi álláspont), és a hozzám hasonló romantikus embernek nincs jobb helye arra, hogy kipihenje magát, mint egy kő (ideológiai álláspont). Az érdeklődés másrészt, ennek az életrajzi helyzetnek megfelelő tervrendszer folyománya, amely „egy órára vagy egész napra, munkára vagy szabadidőre szól, s amelyben mindezek a résztervek valamely legfőbb, az összes többire kiterjedő, bár nem ellentmondásos, »élettervnek« nevezett rendszerré kapcsolódtak össze” … Példánkra visszatérve: a kő mint ülőalkalmatosság iránti érdeklődésemet talán az alapozza meg, hogy most tartom a tervezett szünetet, miután elértem a mára tervezett sétám során azt a pontot, amelyen a visszafordulást terveztem, ami viszont megint csak szabadságom tervének része volt stb.

Foglaljuk össze az eddig leírtakat: a helyzetmeghatározás során a figyelmem, amelyet az életrajzi helyzetem és a terveim rendszere által megszabott érdeklődés határoz meg, környezetem olyan kiválasztott oldalaira irányul, amelyeket tudáskészletemre, illetve kéznél levő tudáskészletemnek a számomra érdekes oldalak meghatározása szempontjából fontos részeire vonatkoztatva értelmezek.

Azt az érdeklődést, amely a helyzetmeghatározásra indít, s meghatározza környezetem bizonyos oldalainak és tudáskészletem a környezet ezen oldalainak értelmezéséhez szükséges részeinek kiválasztását, Schütz a motiváció szempontjából lényegesnek nevezi …

Normális esetben, tehát ha nem történnek meglepetések, meglevő tudáskészletem elegendő a környezet engem érdeklő oldalainak értelmezéséhez. De ez nem mindig van így. Időközben új elemek is jelentkezhetnek, amelyeket a tudáskészletemben felhalmozott tapasztalatokra vonatkoztatva nem tudok kielégítően vagy egyáltalán nem tudok meghatározni. Ekkor „szükségem lesz arra, hogy ezekről az elemekről »többet tudjak«, akár új ismeretek szerzésével, akár úgy, hogy meglevő tudásomat az ismertség más fokára kell helyeznem”…. Például az a kő, amelyet először ülőhelynek szemeltem ki, közelebbről megnézve különösnek tűnhet – furcsa színeivel, ritka felületi szerkezetével –, és hirtelen már egyáltalán nem vagyok biztos abban, hogy egyáltalán kőről van-e szó. Mielőtt leülök, rá kell jönnöm arra, tulajdonképpen mi is ez a dolog előttem.

Az ilyen új, kérdéses és rákérdezésre érdemes elem, amelyet először azonosítanom kell, mielőtt adott esetben visszatérhetek az engem eredetileg érdeklő tevékenységhez, oly módon vált számomra lényegessé, amit Schütz tematikus relevanciának nevez. Emellett a motiváció szempontjából lényeges érdeklődés is tovább hat, amennyiben „megszabja, mikor kell kielégítettnek számítania a tematikusan releváns kifürkészésére irányuló kíváncsiságunknak” …

Az újonnan jelentkező elem meghatározását megkísérelve természetesen ismét használjuk tudáskészletünket, mégpedig azon részeit, „amelyek a témában jelentkező probléma megoldása szempontjából […] relevánsak” …Példánknál maradva, kezdünk elgondolkodni azon, és megpróbáljuk apró kísérletekkel kitalálni, miről is van szó „ennél a dolognál” – talán teknősbékáról, de akkor a fej és a lábak számára lyukaknak kellene lenniük benne; talán óriás pöfeteggombáról, de akkor botütésre fel kellene hasadnia; talán mégis bizonyosfajta kőről, amilyet azonban még sohasem láttam. A tudáskészletnek azt a részét, amelyet a témában rejlő probléma megoldására bevonok, Schütz az értelmezés vagy az interpretáció szempontjából relevánsnak nevezi.

Ha az értelmezés sikerül, nemcsak az engem eredetileg érdeklő tevékenységhez térhetek vissza; új tudásom egyszersmind mint üledék kerül be tudáskészletembe, ezáltal kognitív eszközeim bővülnek jövőbeli értelmezésekhez…

A helyzetmeghatározás a mindennapokban nem öncél; mindig azért következik be, hogy cselekvőleg hathassunk környezetünkre. A következőkben ezt a mindennapi cselekvést vesszük szemügyre …

Cselekvésen Schütz az emberi viselkedés olyan folyamatát érti, „amelyet a cselekvő elővételez, másként kifejezve, amely valamilyen előzetes terven alapul”. Cselekedeten ennek megfelelően „a folyamatnak az eredményét, tehát az elvégzett cselekvést” érti…. Ez a cselekvés lehet fedett (célirányos, módszeres elmélkedés) és nyílt (házépítés építési terv szerint), de mulasztás formáját is öltheti (a kívánt állapot nem beavatkozás által való előidézése).

A cselekvés viszont kéznél levő tudáskészletemmel és a tudáskészlet fényében meghatározott helyzetemmel áll kapcsolatban: „Jövőbeli cselekedetem megtervezését […] olyan korábban végzett cselekedetekre vonatkozó tudásomra alapozom, amelyek típusosan hasonlóak a mostani cselekedethez.” Ezt a tudást Schütz recepttudásnak is nevezi. Tervemet továbbá „annak a helyzetnek a típusosan releváns sajátosságaira vonatkozó tudásomra alapozom, amelyben a tervezett cselekvésnek folynia kell” … A tapasztalt építőmester például tudja, hogyan kell a talajviszonyokat, a munkások teljesítőképességét, a szállítók pontosságát, az építészeti hatóság alaposságát figyelembe véve reálisan elkészítenie építési tervét.

Az, hogy a cselekvési terv a mindennapi tudástól függ, azzal a következménnyel jár, hogy a cselekvés rendszerint korántsem ésszerű. Hiszen a releváns cselekvési helyzetet nem szoktuk behatóan elemezni, a cselekvés szándékolt következményeit és mellékes következményeit nem mérlegeljük valamely értékrendszerrel egybevetve, s nem a leghatékonyabb eszközöket vetjük be a cél elérése érdekében: az ésszerűség ebben az értelemben olyan eszmény, amelyet a mindennapokban legfeljebb megközelítően lehet egyes cselekvésterületeken elérni …). A mindennapi cselekvés rendszerint legfeljebb részben ésszerű rutincselekvés.

A cselekvésre Schütz szerint továbbá az jellemző, hogy indítéka van. Schütz az indítékok két osztályát különbözteti meg: „azért, hogy indítékok” és „azért, mert indítékok”.

Az azért, hogy indítékok a végállapotra vonatkoznak, tehát arra a célra, amelyet a cselekvésnek létre kellene hoznia: az építőmester azért szervezi meg az építkezést, hogy „az építési folyamat a lehető leginkább zökkenőmentes legyen”. Az azért, hogy indítékok Schütz szemében azok, amelyeket Max Weber a cselekvés szubjektíven vélt értelmének nevezett. Az azért, mert indítékokban ezzel szemben a múlt csapódik le, a cselekvő élettörténete, amely bizonyos személyiségvonások vagy viselkedési hajlamok kialakulásához vezetett, s ezek most szintén meghatározzák a cselekvést: építészünk talán csak azért épít házakat, mert ezzel egy régi gyermekkori álmát akarja megvalósítani. Az azért, mert indítékokra jellemző, hogy a cselekvő a cselekvés során nem tartja szem előtt őket. Csak utólag képes „mint önmaga megfigyelője visszatekinteni múltbeli cselekvésére, és megvizsgálni, milyen körülmények vitték rá arra, hogy úgy cselekedjen, ahogy cselekedett” …

Mint Schütz hangsúlyozza, az indítékok két osztályát korántsem véletlenül választjuk, illetve nem véletlenül hatnak a cselekvésre. Az „azért, hogy indítékok” a terveknek abba a rendszerébe integrálódnak, amelyről korábban beszéltünk. Ez azt jelenti, hogy a cselekedet szubjektíven vélt értelmét végső soron a terveknek ez a rendszere határozza meg. Ha élettörténetünk során megváltozik az élettervünk, akkor visszamenőleg minden egyes cselekedet is más értelmet nyerhet.

„Azért, mert” indítékainkat is egy rendszer elemeinek kell felfognunk: meghatározott személyiség, jellem folyományai, annak típusos kifejeződései …

Az imént leírt cselekvés segítségével a cselekvő alakítja és megváltoztatja a világot; mégpedig nemcsak a fizikai világba avatkozik bele, hanem – hiszen a cselekvés értelemteli terveket valósít meg – a kulturális világba is.

b) A társadalmi világ tipizálása és a társadalmi kapcsolat

A mindennapok világa, mint korábban már megállapítottuk, abban az értelemben társadalmi világ, hogy más emberekkel közösen lakunk benne, velük kell együttműködnünk és megértésre jutnunk. Emiatt felvetődik az a kérdés, hogy a mindennapi világ lakói miként tipizálják a társadalmi világot, és hogyan jönnek létre abban társadalmi kapcsolatok…

A társadalmi világ először is-sez is tudáskészletünk egyik eleme – környezetre, a társak világára, az elővilágra és az utóvilágra tagoltan mutatkozik számunkra.

A környezetben a másik emberrel úgy találkozunk, mint embertársunkkal. Velem van térben, vagyis „a külvilág meghatározott szektora egyformán valamennyi partner hatókörében van [.] és közös érdeklődésre számot tartó, közös relevanciájú tárgyakat tartalmaz”; de velem van időben is, vagyis „mindenki részt vesz a másik életfolyamatában […], és eleven jelenvalóságában foghatja fel a másik gondolatainak fokozatos felépülését”…. Az embertársak közötti kapcsolatokat Schütz tiszta vagy közvetlen mi-kapcsolatoknak nevezi. Ez a fogalom a barátok közötti beszélgetést éppúgy jelenti, mint a véletlen találkozást a vonat fülkéjében.

Schütz szerint ebben a tiszta mi-kapcsolatban van leginkább esély arra, hogy a másikat egyszeri egyénnekfogjam fel, és megértsem gondolkodása és cselekvése vélt értelmét. Nézetei és indítékai ugyanis a közvetlen szemléletből és közlésből is hozzáférhetők számomra.

Az embertársunkról, valamint gondolkodásának s cselekvésének értelméről alkotott képünk persze ilyen körülmények között is szükségképpen részleges, mint korábban láttuk, valamely gondolat vagy cselekedet értelme csak a cselekvő teljes tervrendszerének ismeretében érthető meg, s azt a másik ember természetesen nem láthatja át, s nem is közölhető vele. Így a másik ember s vele gondolkodása és cselekvése értelmének belátása a mi-kapcsolatban is szükségképpen hiányos marad. A rejtett részekre csak hipotetikusan következtethetünk. Más szavakkal, a másik átlátása során típusos konstrukciókra, „bizonyos típusos minta mögötti indítékokra, bizonyos személyiségtípus típusos viselkedésmódjaira” támaszkodunk – ezeket a konstrukciókat Schütz szubjektív személyes típusoknak nevezi … Mintegy laikus pszichológusként ténykedünk, aki a másikat, például útitársát és annak viselkedését diagnosztizálja: mondjuk, jellegzetes kérkedőnek tartjuk, aki jól akarja adminisztrálni magát. Ezek a típusok is a kéznél levő tudáskészlet részei.

Ez a személyes típusok által közvetített mindennapi megértés alapozza meg az embertársak közötti kapcsolatokat mint akciók és reakciók egymásra vonatkozó sorát: ezen a ponton nyúlhatunk vissza a fent tárgyalt megkülönböztetésre „azért, hogy indítékok” és „azért, mert indítékok” között, és ezt mondhatjuk: a megértés teszi lehetővé, hogy a társadalmi kapcsolaton belül az egyik fél „azért, hogy indítékai” a másik „azért, mert indítékaivá” váljanak, és megfordítva. A azért kérdez, hogy választ kapjon, B viszont azért válaszol, mert kérdezték. Még ha ez nem is így van, és a kölcsönös megértés fent említett szükségszerűen nem teljes volta miatt teljes mértékben nem is lehet így, a mindennapokban mégis abból az idealizációból indulunk ki, mintha létezne az indítékoknak ez a kölcsönössége.

A környezeten túl – cseppfolyós átmenetben – kezdődik az, amit Schütz a mások társvilágának nevez. Ezek a mások mellettem léteznek, amennyiben nincs részük a hatókörömben levő világban, és nem osztoznak (szubjektív) élő jelenemben. Ebben az esetben tehát csupán közvetett társadalmi kapcsolatról van szó. Ilyen közvetett társadalmi kapcsolatra példa a postai ügyfél és a levelét továbbító postahivatali tisztviselők, a polgár és a politikusok vagy az egyszerű munkás és a bérszámláját vezető könyvelési alkalmazott közötti kapcsolat. Mindezekben az esetekben a kapcsolatban résztvevők egyáltalán nem vagy csak kivételesen s akkor csak üzleti okból kerülnek egymás szeme elé. A közvetett társadalmi kapcsolatban nincs betekintésem a partner individualitásába, gondolkodásának és cselekvésének egyediségébe; számomra inkább névtelen, felcserélhető funkcióhordozónak vagy ügyintézőnek mutatkozik.

De ha nem a közvetlen részvételre, vajon mire támaszkodik ebben az esetben a kapcsolat létrejöttéhez és fenntartásához szükséges megértés? Schütz ismét ezt válaszolja: típusok konstruálására, aminek során ezúttal mintegy laikus szociológusként járunk el, és „a többé vagy kevésbé névtelen cselekvőknek egy sor állítólag állandó indítékot tulajdonítunk, amelyek cselekvésüket vezérlik” …. Mivel ezek a típusok nem rendkívül személyes tulajdonságokra és indítékokra, hanem névtelen, felcserélhető cselekvők tulajdonságaira és motívumaira támaszkodnak, Schütz itt cselekedettípusokról beszél, és maga is utal a rokonságra ezen fogalom és a társadalmi szerep fogalma között.

Ennek a tipizálásnak azonban, mint Schütz kiemeli, szükségképpen bizonyos öntipizálás felel meg: „Amennyiben meghatározom a másik szerepét, magam is szerepet vállalok. Amennyiben a másik viselkedését tipizálom, a sajátoméval is ezt teszem, amely kapcsolódik az övéhez; mondjuk az utazó vagy a fogyasztó, az adófizető, az olvasó vagy a megfigyelő bőrébe bújok.” Eközben számomra is érvényes, hogy az ilyen kapcsolatban „nem teljes személyiségemmel, hanem csak bizonyos személyiségrétegekkel” veszek részt … Ezen a módon a közvetett társadalmi kapcsolatokban is létrejön az indítékok kölcsönössége.

Egyébként maga Schütz hívja fel a figyelmet az öntipizálás fogalma és a Mead-féle me fogalom közötti párhuzamra …

Schütz arra is utal, hogy a reciprok cselekvéstípusoknak ez a konstrukciója „gyakran viselkedési mérceként intézményesül, hagyományos és visszatérő szokások kezeskednek róla (azok legitimálják – a szerző), és [.] úgynevezett társadalmi ellenőrzési eljárások […] garantálják” …

Az elmondottakat megvilágítandó térjünk vissza egyik példánkhoz: amikor bedobok egy levelet a postaládába, kapcsolatot teremtek a postahivatali tisztviselővel. Ennek a tisztviselőnek mint funkcióhordozónak bizonyos indítékokat – például azt, hogy mint tisztviselő teljesíteni akarja kötelességét – és cselekedeteket – például leveleket továbbít és hord ki – tulajdonítok. Emiatt nekem is típusos postai ügyfélként kell viselkednem, az ilyen ügyfél típusos indítékaival – azt akarom, hogy a posta továbbítsa a levelemet – és típusos cselekedetekkel – bérmentesítenem kell a levelet, tartanom kell magam a nyitvatartási időhöz, használnom kell a postaládát stb. Eközben abból indulhatok ki és abból is kell kiindulnom, hogy a postai ügyfelek és a postatisztviselők jogait és kötelességeit társadalmilag kötelezően rögzítették – intézményesítették, s azokat valamennyi érintett többé vagy kevésbé értelemtelinek és ésszerűnek ismeri el – legitimálja –, s azokat adott esetben az akaratom ellenére is érvényesítik, tehát társadalmi ellenőrzés alatt állnak (ha nem teszek bélyeget a levélre, portót kell fizetnem).

Befejezésül foglalkozzunk még röviden az elővilággal és az utóvilággal, valamint a hozzájuk fűződő kapcsolattal.

A kapcsolat mindkét esetben jellegzetes aszimmetriát mutat: az elődök elővilága hat ránk, de mi már nem hathatunk rá. Amit, akár szóbeli hagyomány, akár dokumentumok formájában ránk hagytak, az „egyre újabb értelmezésre sokféle, tartalommal teli típusban van feladva” számunkra. Utódaink utóvilágára ezzel szemben mi hatunk, de azok ránk nem hatnak. Ami ott történik, meghatározatlanul és meg- határozhatatlanul „alapvetően üres névtelenségben” létezik számunkra (Schütz 1971b, 156).

c) A tudás szocializálódása

Mint kezdetben megállapítottuk, a mindennapok világa interszubjektív kultúrvilág – működés-összefüggés olyan emberek között, akiknek meg kell érteniük egymást, jelentésuniverzum, amelyet értelmezni kell. De miként lehetséges az említett együttműködés és megértés? Miként képesek különböző emberek többé-kevésbé egybehangzóan értelmezni a jelentések univerzumát? Schütz a következőképpen válaszol ezekre a kérdésekre: azért tudunk együttműködni, egymást megérteni és félig-med- dig egybehangzó értelmezésre jutni a kultúrvilág jelentéséről, mert a tudás, amely gondolkodásunk, cselekvésünk és megértésünk alkalmazási keretét alkotja, szocializált, mégpedig három szempontból is: – strukturális szempontból: a tudásom, annak elemei és szerveződése nem csak az én magántulajdonom, közös is; legalábbis részben „objektív és anonim, vagyis […] elkülönült és független az én helyzetmeghatározásomtól és embertársaimétól is, egyedi életrajzi előadottságainktól s valóságos és lehetséges céljainktól, amelyek mindenkori életrajzunkkal hozzáférhetők”…Ebben az eltárgyiasí- tott formában – mint kimondott szó, leírt szöveg, elismert és kodifikált intézmény – mindenki hozzáférhet (vö. ehhez Mead jelentéssel bíró szimbólum fogalmát).

A fennálló egyéni különbségeket egy idealizáló feltevéssel, a látószögek reciproci- tásának generáltézisével lehet meghaladni, vagy legalábbis jelentéktelenné tenni. A látószögek reciprocitásának generáltézise két egymást kiegészítő feltevést tartalmaz: a különböző emberek esetében az álláspontok felcserélhetőségének és a relevanciarendszerek összhangjának feltevését: ha álláspontomból adódóan másként látom is a világot, mint a velem szemben álló ember, elvileg az ő álláspontját is elfogadhatom, és akkor a relevanciarendszerek összhangja folytán a világot úgy fogom látni, ahogy most ő látja (vö. ehhez a másik szerepének, illetve cselekedetének átvételét Meadnél);

– genetikai szempontból: Schütz arra utal, hogy „a világról való tudásomnak csak igen kicsiny része (ered) személyes tapasztalatomból. A nagyobbik része társadalmilag levezetett, barátaim, szüleim, tanáraim s tanáraim tanárai ruházták rám” …. A szocializációs folyamat során jutok el a bebocsátásig a társadalmilag objektivált tudásba, ismerem meg azt, tanulom meg alkalmazni s a világot ennek a tudásnak a fényében értelmezni;

– a tudás elosztásának szempontjából: nem minden egyén szerez ugyanakkora részt a társadalmilag objektivált tudásból. Az egyéni tudás a foglalkozás, a társadalmi réteghez és természetesen a kultúrkörhöz tartozás függvényében változik.

A tudásnak ez a társadalmi elosztása azt vonja maga után, hogy kevés olyan terület van, amelyen mindenkinek egyforma a tudásszintje, sok olyan van viszont, ahol csak az egyik ember szakértő (tehát otthonos tudása van), míg a másik ízig-vérig laikus (csupán ismertségi vagy hiten alapuló tudása van). A modern társadalmakban például mindenkinek esélye van arra, hogy az anyanyelvén megtanuljon beszélni, írni és olvasni. Társadalmi réteghez tartozástól függően természetesen e téren is alapvető tudás- és képességbeli különbségek vannak. Még nagyobbak ezek a különbségek a magas műveltség, a műveltségtudás szintjén; mai munkamegosztáson alapuló szakmai világunkban mindenki szakember egy szűk területen, és laikus minden másban.

Schütz arra is utal, hogy a tudás elosztásához tartozó tudás maga is az általános, mindenki számára hozzáférhető tudás egyik eleme: ha beteg vagyok, és nem vagyok orvos, akkor magamon ugyan nem tudok segíteni, de tudom, hogy ki alkalmas arra, hogy segítsen nekem …

3.2. Túl a mindennapok világán: az értelemtartományok sokfélesége

Mint a 3. rész elején megállapítottuk, Schütz szerint az értelemteli emberi tevékenység nem korlátozódik a mindennapi élet világára. Most legalább áttekintésszerűen ezt a mindennapi világon és annak sajátosságain túl levő értelemteli tevékenységet kívánjuk a mindennapi világban tapasztalható értelemértelmezéssel és -tételezéssel összehasonlítva megvizsgálni.

Ezekhez a mindennapi világon túli valóságokhoz sorolja Schütz „az álmok, a képzelgések és a fantázia világát s különösen a művészet, a vallási tapasztalás, a tudományos elmélkedés világát, a gyermek játékvilágát és a tébolyét” (…

Schütz szerint e világok mindegyike zárt értelemtartomány, mindegyikre külön önmagára hangolt megismerési stílus jellemző. A mindenkori uralkodó megismerési stílusok hat dimenzió mentén különböznek egymástól, mégpedig …

– a tudati feszültség foka,

– az uralkodó epokhé fajtája,

– a spontaneitás formája,

– az öntapasztalás formája,

– a szocialitás formája,

– az időperspektíva fajtája szerint.

Hogy mit jelentenek ezek a dimenziók, az … a különböző értelemtartományok ismertetése során világossá válik.

Mindegyik ilyen értelemtartományba úgyszólván belemerülhetek, s ily módon, mint Schütz mondja: „valósághangsúlyt adhatok neki”. Az egyik értelemtartományról egy másikra való átmenetet sokknak éljük meg (például amikor felijedünk egy álomból).

A következőkben néhány ilyen értelemtartomány – a mindennapi élet, a képzeletvilág, az álomvilág és a tudományos elmélet világa – sajátosságait ismertetjük a fent említett hat dimenzió összefüggésében.

a) A mindennapi világ

A mindennapok világában a legnagyobb a tudati feszültség foka. A tudatot „csak az élet és annak követelményei érdeklik”, éberen figyel a külső valóság által felvetett problémákra.

Már ismerjük a mindennapi világban uralkodó epokhét – a természetes beállítódás epokhéját, amelyben hatályon kívül helyezünk mindenfajta, a világ létezésére vonatkozó kétséget. A spontaneitásnak a mindennapokban uralkodó formája a ténykedés, vagyis a tervek fizikai tevékenység útján történő megvalósítása, amelyre emberi élőlényként való létezésem iránti alapvető aggódás, a haláltól való félelem sarkall. Ennek felel meg az öntapasztalás egyik sajátos formája: a cselekvő teljesen feloldódik spontán tevékenységében, Schütz megfogalmazásában össz-énnek tapasztalja magát.

A szocialitást a mindennapokban az életproblémák leküzdése (néha: az eközben való kölcsönös akadályoztatás) során megnyilvánuló kommunikációnak, együttműködésnek, egymásrautaltságnak tapasztaljuk: a kommunikáció és a társadalmi cselekvés közös interszubjektív világának.

A mindennapi világot végül a benne uralkodó időperspektíva jellemzi: ahhoz, hogy részt vehessünk a külvilág – a természet és a társadalom – eseményeiben, mintegy arra kényszerülünk, hogy belső óránkat, belső időnket (durée) összehangoljuk az objektív, fizikai idő és az interszubjektív társadalmi idő folyásával. Ha nem akarunk túl későn érkezni, és elszalasztani a csatlakozást, a durée és a kozmikus idő metszéspontjában levő standard időben kell élnünk.

Mivel a mindennapi világ olyan világ, amelyben, a külvilággal aktívan szembeszegülve és más emberekkel együttműködve fizikai létezésünk biztosítása a lényeg, Schütz a mindennapi élet valóságát kiváltságos valóságnak nevezi. Ezt tartja az eredeti modellnek, „valóságtapasztalásunk őstípusának; az összes többi értelemterületet belőle levezetettnek tekinthetjük” ….

b) A fantáziák és képzelgések világa

A fantázia világában messzemenően elveszítjük érdeklődésünket az élet és követelményei iránt, és szabad folyást engedünk képzelőerőnknek- a tudati feszültség mértéke tehát csökken.

Elhatározzuk, hogy elfeledjük a mindennapok ténykedéseit, ebben az értelemben tehát zárójelbe tesszük azokat, epokhét alkalmazunk rájuk – ezzel megtiltunk minden reális kételyt is a fantázia világát illetően.

Az uralkodó spontán tevékenység a szabad képzelgés, nem foglalkozunk az alapvető aggódással és azzal sem, hogy megvalósíthatók-e ezek a fantáziák – mihelyt ugyanis ebből a szempontból vizsgáljuk fantáziáinkat, már nem a képzelet világában vagyunk, hanem visszatértünk a valóságba.

A fantázia világában természetesen tetszés szerint változtathatjuk meg külső megjelenésünket is – nagyobbnak vagy kisebbnek, erősebbnek vagy gyengébbnek, szebbnek vagy csúnyábbnak képzelhetjük magunkat –, és bármely vágyott szerepbe belehelyezkedhetünk – cipőtisztítóból milliomosok lehetünk, ami a valóságban nem lehetséges, jól tudva, hogy valójában természetesen egyik szerep sem a miénk. Fiktív szerepeket játszó rész-énnek éljük meg magunkat.

Képzelegni – s ezzel térünk rá a szocialitás uralkodó formájára – egyedül és közösen is tudunk, a fantázia tartalma természetesen kitalált kapcsolat is lehet. Ami a képzelgés idői (és térbeli) struktúráját illeti, itt megszűnnek az interobjektív tér és az interszubjektív standard idő béklyói: gondolatban már helyekre és időkbe képzelhetjük magunkat, elmulasztott alkalmakat pótolhatunk be, sikeresen lehetünk úrrá a jövőn …

c) Az álomvilág

Az álomvilágban uralkodó tudatállapot a teljes elernyedés, az élettől való teljes elfordulás.

A mindennapi élet valósága itt is zárójelbe kerül, s ezzel ki van kapcsolva minden, az álomvilág valóságát illető kétely is.

Természetesen az álomban is létezik spontán tevékenység: éppenséggel álomképeket észlelünk – s eközben kis észleleteket (éhség, fájdalom), egyúttal nappali maradványokat is (a fogalom Sigmund Freudtól ered, aki a mindennapok benyomásaira és problémáira gondolt) feldolgozunk, „amelyek az ébrenlét állapotában – az élet támasztotta feladatokkal kapcsolatos rendkívül gyakorlatias beállítottság következtében – megkülönböztethetetlenek és megragadhatatlanok maradnak” … Ezeket a nappali maradványokat persze nem aktív cselekvés, hanem passzív figyelem formájában dolgozzuk fel.

Ennek felel meg, hogy az álmodó gyakran úgy éli meg önmagát, hogy céltalanul bonyolódik bele az álomcselekménybe.

Az álomvilág szocialitását illetően elmondható, hogy az álomvilágban nincs kommunikáció, legalábbis nem két álmodó között. A másik álomvilága csak közvetett kommunikáció – éber állapotban való közlés, amely viszont már a mindennapi világ hatálya alatt áll, tehát egy, az álomtól idegen értelemtartományhoz tartozik – útján érhető el.

Ami végül az álomvilág időperspektíváját illeti, itt is érvényes: a standard idő és annak rendje megszűnt, a belső idő elkülönült tőle, az előtt és az után, a múlt, a jelen és a jövő – legalábbis a mindennapi világ látószögéből – reménytelenül összekeverednek …

d) A tudományos elmélet világa

Schütz szerint a tudományos elmélet világában is kisebb a tudati feszültség, mint a mindennapi világban: a tudóst sem csak az élet és annak követelményei érdeklik, inkább a kívülálló megfigyelő szerepét tölti be, s csupán az érdekli, hogy várakozásai és hipotézisei „kiállják-e a további tapasztalatok láncolatából álló igazolódás próbáját” …. Az élet iránti érdektelensége miatt a mindennapok szempontjából a tudós néha szórakozott professzornak látszik.

A tudományos világra jellemző epokhé, mint Schütz kissé körülményesen mondja, „a természetes beállítódás epokhéjának epokhéja”: míg a mindennapokban a világ létezésére vonatkozó kételyt tesszük zárójelbe, addig a tudós megfordítva, éppen létezésének kétségtelenségét teszi zárójelbe: az elméletek érvényességére vonatkozó kételyt emeli elvvé és erénnyé. Emiatt a tulajdonság miatt látszik életidegennek a tudós a mindennapi világ nézőpontjából.

A tudományban ennek megfelelően nem is az alapvető aggódás vezérelte spontán cselekvés uralkodik, hanem az elméleti szemlélődés, amely célja nem „a világ feletti uralom, hanem annak megfigyelése és lehetőség szerinti megértése” …. A tudományos tudást természetesen a gyakorlatban is lehet alkalmazni, s a társadalmat mindenekelőtt e miatt az alkalmazás miatt érdekli a tudomány. De ez az alkalmazhatóság csak a mindennapi világ szemszögéből érdekes. A tudós és elméleti tevékenysége szempontjából – legalábbis Schütz így véli – teljesen lényegtelen, bár mint ennek a társadalomnak a tagja (márpedig az) ő is hasznot húzhat a tudomány alkalmazásából, vagy kára lehet belőle.

Ez vezet át bennünket a tudomány világának következő dimenziójához, nevezetesen az öntapasztalás itt uralkodó formájához. A tudós nem érvényesítheti teljes emberi létét a tudományában, ennek megfelelően a tudomány világában „csak részleges én, szerepjátszó »felépített én«, nevezetesen a teoretikus” …

A szocialitásnak a tudományban uralkodó formájaként a tudományos párbeszédet nevezhetjük meg, amelynek tárgyai „a mások által kidolgozott eredmények, a mások által felvetett problémák, a mások által javasolt megoldások és a mások által kifejlesztett módszerek”…. A mindennapi világgal való kommunikáció mindazonáltal hasonló fordítási problémákat vet fel, mint amelyekkel az álomvilág esetében találkozunk: itt is csak közvetett kommunikációról lehet szó. Gondoljunk például arra, mennyire nehéz népszerűen, „szemléltetően” bemutatni mondjuk a magfizikát.

Mint tudós, a tudós is a standard időn kívül él, olyan (tudományos) jelenben, amelyben a (tudományos) múltban felvetődött problémákat dolgozzák fel, s olyan (tudományos) jövőt vetít előre, amelyben a feldolgozott probléma megoldódik, másként kifejezve: időperspektíváját a tudományos problémák megoldási ciklusa szabja meg. Szórakozott professzorunk munkájába merülve néha elfelejti, milyen későre jár már a standard idő kategóriái szerint – és ilyenkor könnyen figyelmen kívül hagy valamilyen magánprogramot.

A tudományos elmélet világát Schütz sok közül az egyik értelemtartományként és sok közül az egyik megismerési stílusként jellemzi. Ez mintha a tudomány érvényességi igényének viszonylagossá tételére futna ki. Ezáltal felvetődik a kérdés, vajon lehet-e, s ha igen, mennyiben, a tudományos megismerés objektivitásáról beszélni …

Habermas’ theories

(Content based on a Wikipedia essay on the subject.)

The Theory of Communicative Action (German: Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns) is a two-volume 1981 book by Jürgen Habermas, in which the author continues his project of finding a way to ground “the social sciences in a theory of language”

Theory

The theory of communicative action is a critical project which reconstructs a concept of reason which is not grounded in instrumental or objectivistic terms, but rather in an emancipatory communicative act. This reconstruction proposes “human action and understanding can be fruitfully analysed as having a linguistic structure”,and each utterance relies upon the anticipation of freedom from unnecessary domination. These linguistic structures of communication can be used to establish a normative understanding of society….This conception of society is used “to make possible a conceptualization of the social-life context that is tailored to the paradoxes of modernity.”

This project started after the critical reception of Habermas’s book Knowledge and Human Interests (1968), after which Habermas chose to move away from contextual and historical analysis of social knowledge toward what would become the theory of communicative action.The theory of communicative action understands language as the foundational component of society and is an attempt to update Marxism by “drawing on Systems theory (Luhmann), developmental psychology (Piaget, Kohlberg), and social theory (Weber, Durkheim, Parsons, Mead, etc.)”.

Based on lectures initially developed in On the Pragmatics of Social Interaction Habermas was able to expand his theory to a large understanding of society.

Thomas A. McCarthy states that

The Theory of Communicative Action has three interrelated concerns: (1) to develop a concept of rationality that is no longer tied to, and limited by, the subjectivistic and individualistic premises of modern philosophy and social theory; (2) to construct a two-level concept of society that integrates the lifeworld and systems paradigms; and, finally, (3) to sketch out, against this background, a critical theory of modernity which analyzes and accounts for its pathologies in a way that suggests a redirection rather than an abandonment of the project of enlightenment.

Theory of Communicative Action, Vol. 1

The Theory of Communicative Action, Volume 1 sets out “to develop a concept of rationality that is no longer tied to, and limited by, the subjectivistic and individualistic premises of modern philosophy and social theory.” With this failure of the search for ultimate foundations by “first philosophy” or “the philosophy of consciousness”, an empirically tested theory of rationality must be a pragmatic theory based on science and social science. This implies that any universalist claims can only be validated by testing against counterexamples in historical (and geographical) contexts – not by using transcendental ontological assumptions. This leads him to look for the basis of a new theory of communicative action in the tradition of sociology. He starts by rereading Max Weber‘s description of rationality and arguing it has a limited view of human action. Habermas argues that Weber’s basic theoretical assumptions with regard to social action prejudiced his analysis in the direction of purposive rationality, which purportedly arises from the conditions of commodity production.Taking the definition of action as human behaviour with intention, or with subjective meaning attached, then Weber’s theory of action is based on a solitary acting subject and does not encompass the coordinating actions that are inherent to a social body.

According to Weber, rationalisation (to use this word in the sense it has in sociological theory) creates three spheres of value: the differentiated zones of science, art and law. For him, this fundamental disunity of reason constitutes the danger of modernity. This danger arises not simply from the creation of separate institutional entities but through the specialisation of cognitive, normative, and aesthetic knowledge that in turn permeates and fragments everyday consciousness. This disunity of reason implies that culture moves from a traditional base in a consensual collective endeavour to forms which are rationalised by commodification and led by individuals with interests which are separated from the purposes of the population as a whole.

This ‘purposive rational action‘ is steered by the “media” of the state, which substitute for oral language as the medium of the coordination of social action. An antagonism arises between these two principles of societal integration—language, which is oriented to understanding and collective well being, and “media”, which are systems of success-oriented action.

Following Weber, Habermas sees specialisation as the key historical development, which leads to the alienating effects of modernity, which ‘permeate and fragment everyday consciousness’.

Habermas points out that the “sociopsychological costs” of this limited version of rationality are ultimately borne by individuals, which is what György Lukács had in mind when he developed Marx’s concept of reification in his History and Class Consciousness (1923). They surface as widespread neurotic illnesses, addictions, psychosomatic disorders, and behavioural and emotional difficulties; or they find more conscious expression in criminal actions, protest groups and religious cults. Lukács thought that reification, although it runs deep, is constrained by the potential of rational argument to be self-reflexive and transcend its occupational use by oppressive agencies.Habermas agrees with this optimistic analysis, in contrast to Adorno and Horkheimer, and thinks that freedom and ideals of reconciliation are ingrained in the mechanisms of the linguistically mediated sociation of humanity.

Theory of Communicative Action, Vol. 2

Habermas finds in the work of George Herbert Mead and Émile Durkheim concepts which can be used to free Weber’s theory of rationalisation from the aporias of the philosophy of consciousness. Mead’s most productive concept is his theoretical base of communication and Durkheim’s is his idea of social integration. Mead also stressed the social character of perception: our first encounters are social.

From these bases, Habermas develops his concept of communicative action: communicative action serves to transmit and renew cultural knowledge, in a process of achieving mutual understandings. It then coordinates action towards social integration and solidarity. Finally, communicative action is the process through which people form their identities.

Following Weber again, an increasing complexity arises from the structural and institutional differentiation of the lifeworld, which follows the closed logic of the systemic rationalisation of our communications. There is a transfer of action co-ordination from ‘language’ over to ‘steering media’, such as money and power, which bypass consensus-oriented communication with a ‘symbolic generalisation of rewards and punishments’. After this process the lifeworld “is no longer needed for the coordination of action”. This results in humans (‘lifeworld actors’) losing a sense of responsibility with a chain of negative social consequences. Lifeworld communications lose their purpose becoming irrelevant for the coordination of central life processes. This has the effect of ripping the heart out of social discourse, allowing complex differentiation to occur but at the cost of social pathologies.

“In the end, systemic mechanisms suppress forms of social integration even in those areas where a consensus dependent co-ordination of action cannot be replaced, that is, where the symbolic reproduction of the lifeworld is at stake. In these areas, the mediatization of the lifeworld assumes the form of colonisation”. Habermas argues that Horkheimer and Adorno, like Weber before them, confused system rationality with action rationality. This prevented them from dissecting the effects of the intrusion of steering media into a differentiated lifeworld, and the rationalisation of action orientations that follows. They could then only identify spontaneous communicative actions within areas of apparently ‘non-rational’ action, art and love on the one hand or the charisma of the leader on the other, as having any value.

According to Habermas, lifeworlds become colonised by steering media when four things happen:

1. Traditional forms of life are dismantled.

2. Social roles are sufficiently differentiated.

3. There are adequate rewards of leisure and money for the alienated labour.

4. Hopes and dreams become individuated by state canalization of welfare and culture.

These processes are institutionalised by developing global systems of jurisprudence. He here indicates the limits of an entirely juridified concept of legitimation and practically calls for more anarchistic ‘will formation’ by autonomous networks and groups.

“Counterinstitutions are intended to dedifferentiate some parts of the formally organised domains of action, remove them from the clutches of the steering media, and return these ‘liberated areas’ to the action co-ordinating medium of reaching understanding“.

Once we have extricated ourselves from Weber’s overly negative use of rationalisation, it is possible to look at the Enlightenment ideal of reason in a fresh light. Rationality is redefined as thinking that is ready to submit to criticism and systematic examination as an ongoing process. A broader definition is that rationality is a disposition expressed in behaviour for which good reasons can be given.

Habermas is now ready to make a preliminary definition of the process of communicative rationality: this is communication that is “oriented to achieving, sustaining and reviewing consensus – and indeed a consensus that rests on the intersubjective recognition of criticisable validity claims”. With this key definition he shifts the emphasis in our concept of rationality from the individual to the social. This shift is fundamental to the Theory of Communicative Action. It is based on an assumption that language is implicitly social and inherently rational.

Argument of some kind is central to the process of achieving a rational result. Contested validity claims are thematised and attempts are then made to vindicate or criticise them in a systematic and rigorous way. This may seem to favour verbal language, but allowance is also given for ‘practical discourses’ in which claims to normative rightness are made thematic and pragmatically tested. Non-verbal forms of cultural expression could often fall into this category.

Habermas proposes three integrated conditions from which argumentative speech can produce valid results:

The structure of the ideal speech situation (which means that the discourse is) immunised against repression and inequality in a special way… The structures of a ritualised competition for the better arguments… The structures that determine the construction of individual arguments and their interrelations“.

If we accept such principles of rational argumentation, Communicative Rationality is:

The processes by which different validity claims are brought to a satisfactory resolution.

The relations to the world that people take to forward validity claims for the expressions they deem important.

Excerpts from Max Weber

Excerpts from Max Weber

(Source:)

ECONOMY AND SOCIETY 

AN OUTLINE OF INTERPRETIVE SOCIOLOGY 

Edited by Guenther Roth 
and Ckus Wittich 

University of California Press 
Berkeley • Los Angeles • London 

Expired Copyrights:

University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles. California 

University of California Press, Ltd., London, England 

This printing, Copyright © 1978 by The Regents of the University of California 

1st printing, Copyright © 1968 by Bedminster Press Incorporated, New York. 



VOLUME ONE, PART ONE, CH 1. CH 2. §§ 1-13

PART ONE 

Conceptual Exposition 



CHAPTE 



hI 



BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL 
TERMS 



Prefatory Note 

An introductory discussion of concepts can hardly be dispensed with, 
in spite of the fact that it is unavoidably abstract and hence gives the 
impression of remoteness from reality. The method employed makes no 
claim to any kind of novelty. On the contrary it attempts only to formu- 
late what all empirical sociology really means when it deals with the 
same problems, in what it is hoped is a more convenient and somewhat 
more exact terminology, even though on that account it may seem 
pedantic. TTiis is true even where terms are used which are apparently 
new or unfamiliar. As compared to the author's essay in Logos, 1 the 
terminology has been simplified as far as possible and hence considerably 
changed in order to render it more easily understandable. The most 
precise formulation cannot always be reconciled with a form which can 
readily be popularized. In such cases the latter aim has had to be 
sacrificed. 

On the concept of "understanding" 2 compare the AUgemeine Psycho- 
pathologie of Karl Jaspers, also a few observations by Heinrich Rickert 
in the second edition of the Grenzen der naturwissenschaftlichen Be- 
griffshildung and particularly some of Simmel's discussions in the 
Probleme der Gesckichtsphilosophie. For certain methodological con- 
siderations the reader may here be referred, as often before in the 
author's writings, to the procedure of Friedrich Gottl in his work Die 
Herrsckaft des Wortes; this book, to be sure, is written in a somewhat 
difficult style and its argument does not appear everywhere to have been 
thoroughly thought through. As regards content, reference may be made 

[3] 



4 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Cfe. I 

especially to the fine work of Ferdinand Tonnies, Gemeinsckaft und 
Gesellschaft, and also to the gravely misleading book of Rudolf Stamm- 
let, Wirtschaft wnd Recht nach der materialistiscken Gesckichtsaufias- 
sung, which may be compared with my criticism in the Archiv fur 
Sozudwissenschaft (vol. 14, 1907, [GAzW, 291-359]). This critical 
essay contains many of the fundamental ideas of the following exposi- 
tion. The present work departs from Simmel's method (in his Soziologie 
and his Phihsophie des Geldes) in drawing a sharp distinction between 
subjectively intended and objectively valid "meanings"; two different 
things which Simmel not only fails to distinguish but often deliberately 
treats as belonging together. 



i . The Definition of Sociology and of Social Action 

Sociology (in the sense in which this-highly ambiguous word is used 
here) is a science concerning itself with the interpretive understanding 
of social action and thereby with a causal explanation of its course and 
consequences. We shall speak of "action" insofar as the acting individual 
attaches a subjective meaning to his behavior — be it overt or covert, 
omission or acquiescence. Action is "sociaTinsoiar as its subjective mean- 
ing takes account of the behavior of others and is thereby oriented in its 
course. 3 



A. METHODOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS* 

i . "Meaning" may be of two kinds. The term may refer first to the 
actual existing meaning in the given concrete case of a particular actor, 
or to the average or approximate meaning attributable to a given plurality 
of actors; or secondly to the theoretically conceived pure type* of subjec- 
tive meaning attributed to the hypothetical actor or actors in a given 
type of action. In no case does it refer to an objectively "correct" mean- 
ing or one which is "true" in some metaphysical sense. It is this which 
distinguishes the empirical sciences of action, such as sociology and 
history, from the dogmatic disciplines in that area, such as jurisprudence, 
logic, ethics, and esthetics, which seek to ascertain the "true" and "valid" 
meanings associated with the objects of their investigation. 

2. The line between meaningful action and merely reactive behavior 
to which no subjective meaning is attached, cannot be sharply drawn 
empirically. A very considerable part of all sociologically relevant be- 
havior, especially purely traditional behavior, is marginal between the 



i ] Definitions of Sociology and of Social Action 5 

two. In the case of some psychophysical processes, meaningful, i.e., sub- 
jectively understandable, action is not to be found at all; in others it is 
discernible only by the psychologist. Many mystical experiences which 
cannot be adequately communicated in words are, for a person who is 
not susceptible to such experiences, not fully understandable. At the 
same time the ability to perform a similar action is not a necessary pre- 
requisite to- understanding; "one need not have been Caesar in order to 
' understand Caesar." "Recapturing an experience" is important for ac- 
curate understanding, but not an absolute precondition for its interpreta- 
tion. Understandable and non-understandable components of a process 
aje often intermingled and bound up together. 

3. All interpretation of meaning, like all scientific observations, 
strives for clarity and verifiable accuracy of insight and comprehension 
(EvicUnz).* The basis for certainty in understanding can be either 
rational, which can be further subdivided into logical and mathematical, 
or it can be of an emotionally empathic or artistically appreciative qual- 
ity. Action is rationally evident chiefly when we attain a completely clear 
'intellectual grasp of the action-elements in their intended context of 
meaning. Empathic or appreciative accuracy is attained when, through 
sympathetic participation, we can adequately grasp the emotional context 
in which the action took place. The highest degree of rational under- 
standing is attained in cases involving the meanings of logically or 
maEhematically related propositions; their meaning may be immediately 
and unambiguously intelligible. We have a perfectly clear understanding 
of what it means when somebody employs the proposition 2. X 2 = 4 or 
the Pythagorean theorem in reasoning or argument, or when someone 
correctly carries out a logical train of reasoning according to our accepted 
modes of thinking. In the same way we also understand, what a person 
is doing when he tries to achieve certain ends by choosing appropriate 
means on the basis of the facts of the situation, as experience has accus- 
tomed us to interpret them. The interpretation of such rationally pur- 
poseful action possesses, for the understanding of the choice of means, 
the highest degree of verifiable certainty. With a lower degree of 
certainty, which is, however, adequate for most purposes of explanation, 
we are able to understand errors, including confusion of problems of the 
sort that we ourselves are liable to, or the origin of which we can detect 
by sympathetic self-analysis. 

On the other hand, many ultimate ends or values toward which 
experience shows that human action may be oriented, often cannot be 
understood completely, though sometimes we are able to grasp them 
intellectually. The more radically they differ from our own ultimate 
values, however, the more difficult it is for us to understand them em- 



6 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ch. I 

pathically. Depending upon the circumstances of the particular case we 
must be content either with a purely intellectual understanding of such 
values or when even that fails, sometimes we must simply accept them 
as given data. Then we can try to understand the action motivated by 
them on the basis of whatever opportunities for approximate emotional 
and intellectual interpretation seem to be available at different points in 
its course. These difficulties confront, for instance, people not susceptible 
to unusual acts of religious and charitable zeal, or persons who abhor 
extreme rationalist fanaticism (such as the fanatic advocacy of the 
"rights of man"). 

The more we ourselves are susceptible to such emotional reactions as 
anxiety, anger, ambition, envy, jealousy, love, enthusiasm, pride, venge- 
fulness, loyalty, devotion, and- appetites of all sorts, and to the "irrational" 
conduct which grows out of them, the more readily can we empathize 
with them. Even when such emotions are found in a degree of intensity 
of which the observer himself is completely incapable, he can still have 
a significant degree of emotional understanding of their meaning and 
can interpret intellectually their influence on the course of action and the 
selection of means. 

For the purposes of a typological scientific analysis it is convenient to 
treat all irrational, effectually determined elements of behavior as factors 
of deviation from a conceptually pure type of rational action. For ex- 
ample a panic on the stock exchange can be most conveniently analysed 
by attempting to determine first what the course of action would have 
been if it had not been influenced by irrational affects; it is then possible 
to introduce the irrational components as accounting for the observed 
deviations from this hypothetical course. Similarly, in analysing a polit- 
ical or military campaign it is convenient to determine in the first place 
what would have been a rational course, given the ends of the partici- 
pants and adequate knowledge of all the circumstances. Only in this 
way is it possible to assess the causal significance of irrational factors as 
accounting for the deviations from this type. The construction of a 
purely rational course of action in such cases serves the sociologist as 
a type (ideal type) which has the merit of clear understandability and 
lack of ambiguity. By comparison with this it is possible to understand 
the ways in which actual action is influenced by irrational factors of all 
sorts, such as affects and errors, in that they account for the deviation 
from the line of conduct which would be expected on the hypothesis 
that the action were purely rational. 

Only in this respect and for these reasons of methodological conven- 
ience is the method of sociology "rationalistic." It is naturally not legiti- 
mate to interpret this procedure as involving a rationalistic bias of 



i ] Definitions of Sociology and of Social Action . 7 

sociology, but only as a methodological device. It certainly does not in- 
volve a belief in the actual predominance of rational elements in human 
life, for on the question of how far this predominance does or does not 
exist, nothing whatever has been said. That there is, however, a danger 
of rationalistic interpretations where they are out of place cannot be 
denied. All experience unfortunately confirms the existence of this 
danger. 

4. In all the sciences of human action, account must be taken of 
processes and phenomena which are devoid of subjective meaning, in the 
role of stimuli, results, favoring or hindering circumstances. To be 
devoid of meaning is not identical with being lifeless or non-human; 
every artifact, such as for example a machine, can be understood only 
in terms of the meaning which its production and use have had or were 
intended to have; a meaning which may derive from a relation to exceed- 
ingly various purposes. Without reference to this meaning such an 
object remains wholly unintelligible. That which is intelligible or under- 
standable about it is thus its relation to human action in the role either 
'of means or of end; a relation of which the actor or actors can be said to 
have been aware and to which their action has been oriented. Only in 
terms of such categories isit possible to "understand" objects of this kind. 
On the other hand processes or conditions, whether they are animate or 
inanimate, human or non-human, are in the present sense devoid of 
meaning in so far as they cannot be related to an intended purpose. That 
is to say they are devoid of meaning if they cannot be related to action 
in the role of means or ends but constitute only the stimulus, the favor- 
ing or hindering circumstances. It may be that the flooding of the 
DoIIart [at the mouth of the Ems river near the Dutch-German border] 
in 1277 had historical significance as a stimulus to the beginning of 
certain migrations of considerable importance. Human mortality, indeed 
the organic life cycle from the helplessness of infancy to that of old age, 
is naturally of the very greatest sociological importance through the 
various ways in which human action has been oriented to these facts. 
To still another category of facts devoid of meaning, belong certain 
psychic or psychophysical phenomena such as fatigue, habituation, 
memory, etc.; also certain typical states of euphoria under some condi- 
tions of ascetic mortification; finally, typical variations in the reactions of 
individuals according to reaction-time, precision, and other modes. But 
in the last analysis the same principle applies to these as to other 
phenomena which are devoid of meaning. Both the actor and the soci- 
ologist must accept them as data to be taken into account. 

It is possible that future research may be able to discover non- 
interpretable uniformities underlying what has appeared to be specif- 



8 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [Ch. 1 

ically meaningful action, though little has been accomplished in this 
direction thus far. Thus, for example, differences in hereditary biological 
constitution, as of "races," would have to be treated by sociology as given 
data in the same way as the physiological facts of the need of nutrition 
or the effect of senescence on action. This would be the case if, and in- 
sofar as, we had statistically conclusive proof of their influence on socio- 
logically relevant behavior. The recognition of the causal significance 
of such factors would not in the least alter the specific task of sociological 
analysis or of that of the other sciences of action, which is the interpreta- 
tion of action in terms of its subjective meaning. The effect would be 
orly to introduce certain non-interpretable data of the same order as 
others which are already present, into the complex of subjectively under- 
standable motivation at certain points. (Thus it may come to be known 
that there are typical relations between the frequency of certain types of 
teleological orientation of action or of the degree of certain kinds of 
rationality and the cephalic index or skin color or any other biologically 
inherited characteristic.) 

5. Understanding may be of two kinds: the first is the direct observa- 
tional understanding 7 of the subjective meaning of a given act as such, 
including verbal utterances. We thus understand by direct observation, 
in this case, the meaning of the proposition 2X2 — 4 when we hear 
or read it. This is a case of the direct rational understanding of ideas. 
We also understand an outbreak of anger as manifested by facial expres- 
sion, exclamations or irrational movements. This is direct observational 
understanding of irrational emotional reactions. We can understand in 
a similar observational way the action of a woodcutter or of somebody 
who reaches for the knob to shut a door or who aims a gun at an animal. 
This is rational observational understanding of actions. 

Understanding may, however, be of another sort, namely explanatory 
understanding. Thus we understand in terms of motive the meaning an 
actor attaches to the proposition twice two equals four, when he states 
it or writes it down, in that we understand what makes him do this at 
precisely this moment and in these circumstances. Understanding in this 
sense is attained if we know that he is engaged in balancing a ledger or 
in making a scientific demonstration, or is engaged in some other task 
of which this particular act would be an appropriate part. This is ra- 
tional understanding of motivation, which consists in placing the act in 
an intelligible and more inclusive context of meaning.* Thus we under- 
stand the chopping of wood or aiming of a gun in terms of motive in 
addition {o direct observation if we know that the woodchopper is work- 
ing for a "Wage or is chopping a supply of firewood for his own use or 
possibly is doing it for recreation. But he might also be working off a 



i ] _ Definitions of Sociology and of Social Action 9 

fit of rage, an irrational case. Similarly we understand the motive of a 
person aiming a gun if we know that he has been commanded to shoot 
as a member of a firing squad, that he is fighting against an enemy, or 
that he is doing it for revenge. The last is affectually determined and 
thus in a certain sense irrational. Finally we have a motivational under- 
standing of the outburst of anger if we know that it has been provoked 
by jealousy, injured pride, or an insult. The last examples are all affec- 
tually determined and hence derived from irrational motives. In all the 
above cases the particular act has been placed in an understandable 
sequence of motivation, the understanding of which can be treated as an 
explanation of the actual course of behavior. Thus for a science which 
is concerned with the subjective meaning of action, explanation requires 
a grasp of the complex of meaning in which an actual course of under- 
standable action thus interpreted belongs, In all such cases, even where 
the processes are largely affectual, the subjective meaning of the action, 
including that also of the relevant meaning complexes, will be called the 
'intended meaning. 6 (This involves a departure from ordinary usage, 
which speaks of intention in this sense only in the case of rationally pur- 
posive action.) 

6. In all these cases understanding involves the interpretive grasp of 
the meaning present in one of the following contexts: (a) as in the his- 
toricaj approach, the actually intended meaning for concrete individual 
action; or (b) as in cases of sociological mass phenomena, the average of, 
or an approximation to, the actually intended meaning; or (c) the mean- 
ing appropriate to a scientifically formulated pure type Can ideal type) 
of a common phenomenon. The concepts and "laws" of pure economic 
theory are examples of this kind of ideal type. They state what course a 
given type of human action would take if it were strictly rational, un- 
affected by errors r>r emotional factors and if, furthermore, it were com- 
pletely and unequivocally directed to a single end, the maximization of 
economic advantage. In reality, action takes exactly this course only in 
unusual cases, as sometimes on the stock exchange; and even then there 
is usually only an approximation to the ideal type. (On the purpose of 
such constructions, see my essay in AfS, 19 [cf. n, 5] and point 1 1 below.) 

Every interpretation attempts to attain clarity and certainty, but no 
matter how clear an interpretation as such appears to be from the point 
of view of meaning, it cannot on this account claim to he the causally 
valid interpretation. On this level it must remain only a peculiarly 
plausible hypothesis. In the first place the "conscious motives" may well, 
even to the actor himself, conceal the various "motives" and "repressions" 
which constitute the real driving force of his action. Thus in such cases 
even subjectively honest self-analysis has only a relative value. Then it 



I O BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ch. I 

is the task of the sociologist to be aware of this motivational situation 
and to describe and analyse it, even though it has not actually been con- 
cretely part of the conscious intention of the actor; possibly not at all, 
at least not fully. This is a borderline case of the interpretation of mean- 
ing. Secondly, processes of action which seem to an observer to be the 
same or similar may fit into exceedingly various complexes of motive in 
the case of the actual actor. Then even though the situations appear 
superficially to be very similar we must actually understand them or 
interpret them as very different, perhaps, in terms of meaning, direcdy 
opposed. (Simmel, in his Probleme der Geschichtsphilosaphie, gives a 
number of examples.) Third, the actors in any given situation are often 
subject to opposing and conflicting impulses, all of which we are able to 
understand. In a large number of cases we know from experience it is 
not, possible to arrive at even an approximate estimate of tne relative 
strength of conflicting motives and very often we cannot be certain of 
our interpretation. Only the actual outcome of the conflict gives a solid 
basis of judgment. 

More generally, verification of subjective interpretation by compari- 
son with the concrete course of events is, as in the case of all hypotheses, 
indispensable. Unfortunately this type of verification is feasible with 
relative accuracy only in the few very special cases susceptible of 
psychological experimentation. In very different degrees of approximation, 
such verification is also feasible in the limited number of cases of mass 
phenomena which can be statistically described and unambiguously 
interpreted. For the rest there remains only the possibility of comparing 
the largest possible number of historical or contemporary processes 
which, while otherwise similar, -differ in the one decisive point of their 
relation to the particular motive or factor the role of which is being 
investigated. This is a fundamental task of comparative sociology. 
Often, unfortunately, there is available only the uncertain procedure 
of the "imaginary experiment" which consists in thinking away certain 
elements of a chain of motivation and working out the course of action 
which would then probably ensue, thus arriving at a causal judgment." 

For example, the generalization called Gresham's Law is a rationally 
clear interpretation of human action under certain conditions and under 
the assumption that it will follow a purely rational course. How far any 
actual course of action corresponds to this can be verified only by the 
available statistical evidence for the actual disappearance of under-valued 
monetary units from circulation. In this case our information serves to 
demonstrate a high degree of accuracy. The facts of experience were 
known before the generalization, which was formulated afterwards; 
but without this successful interpretation our need for causal understand- 



i ] Definitions of Sociology and of Social Action i i 

ing would evidently be left unsatisfied. On the other hand, without the 
demonstration that what can here be assumed to be a theoretically ade- 
quate interpretation also is in some degree relevant to an actual course 
of action, a "law," no matter how fully demonstrated theoretically, would 
be worthless for the understanding of action in the rea* world. In this 
case the correspondence between the theoretical interpretation of motiva- 
tion and its empirical verification is entirely satisfactory and the cases are 
numerous enough so that verification can be considered established. But 
to take another example, Eduard Meyer has advanced an ingenious 
theory of the causal significance of the batdes of Marathon, Salamis, and 
Platea for the development of the cultural peculiarities of Greek, and 
hence, more generally, Western, civilization." This is derived from a 
meaningful interpretation of certain symptomatic facts having to do 
with the attitudes of the Greek oracles and prophets towards the Per- 
sians. It can only be direcdy verified by reference to the examples of the 
conduct of the Persians in cases where they were victorious, as in 
Jerusalem, Egypt, and Asia Minor, and even this verification must neces- 
^sarily remain unsatisfactory in certain respects. The striking rational 
plausibility of the hypothesis must here necessarily be relied on as a sup- 
port. In very many cases of historical interpretation which seem highly 
plausible, however, there is not even a possibility of the order of verifica- 
tion which was feasible in this case. Where this is true the interpretation 
must necessarily remain a hypothesis. 

7. A motive is a complex of subjective meaning which seems to the 
actor himself or to the observer an adequate ground for the conduct in 
question. The interpretation of a coherent course of- conduct is "sub- 
jectively adequate" (or "adequate on the level of meaning"), insofar as, 
according to our habitual modes of thought and feeling, its component 
parts taken in their mutual relation are recognized to constitute a 
"typical" complex of meaning." It is more common to say "correct." The 
interpretation of a sequence of events will on the other hand be called 
causally adequate insofar as, according to established generalizations 
from experience, there is a probability that it will always actually occur 
in the same way. An example of adequacy on the level of meaning 
in this sense is what is, according to our current norms of calculation or 
thinking, the correct solution of an arithmetical problem. On the other 
hand, a causally adequate interpretation of the same phenomenon would 
concern the statistical probability that, according to verified generaliza- 
tions from experience, there would be a correct or an erroneous solution 
of the same problem. This also refers to currendy accepted norms but 
includes taking account of typical errors or of typical confusions. Thus 
causal explanation depends on being able to determine that there is a 



I 2 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ck. 1 

probability, which in the rare ideal case can be numerically stated, but is 
always in some sense calculable, that a given observable event (overt or 
subjective) will be followed or accompanied by another event. 

A correct causal interpretation of a concrete course of action is arrived 
at when the overt action and the motives have both been correctly appre- 
hended and at the same time their relation has become meaningfully 
comprehensible. A correct causal interpretation of typical action means 
that the process which is claimed to be typical is shown to be both ade- 
quately grasped on the level of meaning and at the same time the inter- 
pretation is to some degree causally adequate- If adequacy in respect to 
meaning is lacking, then no matter how high the degree of uniformity 
and how precisely its probability can be numerically determined, it is 
still an incomprehensible statistical probability, whether we deal with 
overt or subjective processes. On the other hand, even the most perfect 
adequacy on the level of meaning has causal significance from a socio- 
logical point of view only insofar as there is some kind of proof for the 
existence of a probability" that action in fact normally takes the course 
which has been held to be meaningful. For this there must be some 
degree of determinable frequency of approximation to an average or a 
pure type. 

Statistical uniformities constitute understandable types of action, and 
thus constitute sociological generalizations, only when they can be 
regarded as manifestations of the understandable subjective meaning of 
a course of social action. Conversely, formulations of a rational course 
of subjectively understandable action constitute sociological types of 
empirical process only when they can be empirically observed with a, 
significant degree of approximation. By no means is the actual likelihood 
of the occurrence of a given course of overt action always direcdy pro- 
portional to the clarity of subjective interpretation. Only actual experi- 
ence can prove whether this is so in a given case. There are statistics of 
processes devoid of subjective meaning, such as death rates, phenomena 
of fatigue, the production rate of machines, the amount of rainfall, in 
exacdy the same sense as there are statistics of meaningful phenomena. 
But only when the phenomena are meaningful do we speak of socio- 
logical statistics. Examples are such cases as crime rates, occupational 
distributions, price statistics, and statistics of crop acreage. Naturally 
there are many cases where both components are involved, as in crop 
statistics. 

8. Processes and uniformities which it has here seemed convenient 
not to designate as sociological phenomena or uniformities because they 
are not "understandable," are naturally not on that account any the less 
important. This is true even for sociology in our sense which is restricted 



r ] _ Definitions of Sociology and of Social Action i 3 

to subjectively understandable phenomena — a usage which there is no 
intention of attempting to impose on anyone else. Such phenomena, 
however important, are simply treated by a different method from the 
others; they become conditions, stimuli, furthering or hindering circum- 
stances of action. 

9. Action in the sense of subjectively understandable orientation of 
behavior exists only as the behavior of one or more individual human 
beings. For other cognitive purposes it may be useful or necessary to 
consider the individual, for instance, as a collection of cells, as a complex 
of bio-chemical reactions, or to conceive his psychic life as made up of 
a variety of different elements, however these may be defined. Undoubt- 
edly such procedures yield valuable knowledge of causal relationships. 
But the behavior of these elements, as expressed in such uniformities, 
is not subjectively understandable. This is true even of psychic elements 
because the more precisely they are formulated from a point of view of 
natural science, the less they are accessible to subjective understanding. 
This is never the road to interpretation in terms of subjective meaning. 
On the contrary, both for sociology in the present sense, and for history, 
the object of cognition is the subjective meaning-complex of action. The 
behavior of physiological entities such as cells, or of any sort of psychic 
elements, may at least in principle be observed and an attempt made to 
derive uniformities from such observations. It is further possible to 
attempt, with their help, to obtain a causal explanation of individual phe- 
nomena, that is, to subsume them under uniformities. But the subjective 
understanding of action takes the same account of this type of fact and 
uniformity as of any others not capable of subjective interpretation. 
(This is true, for example, of physical, astronomical, geological, meteor- 
ological, geographical, botanical, zoological, and anatomical Facts, of those 
aspects of psycho-pathology which are devoid of subjective meaning, or 
of the natural conditions of technological processes.) 

For still other cognitive purposes — for instance, juristic ones — or for 
' practical ends, it may on the other hand be convenient or even indispensa- 
ble to treat social collectivities, such as states, associations, business corpora- 
tions, foundations, as if they were individual persons. Thus they may be 
treated as the subjects of rights and duties or as the performers of legally 
significant actions. But for the subjective interpretation of action in socio- 
logical work these collectivities must be treated as solely the resultants 
and modes of organization of the particular acts of individual persons, 
since these alone can be treated as agents in a course of subjectively 
understandable action. Nevertheless, the sociologist cannot for his pur- 
poses afford to ignore these collective concepts derived from other 
disciplines. For the subjective interpretation of action has at least three 



I 4 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Cfc. I 

important relations to these concepts. In the first place it is often neces- 
sary to employ very similar collective concepts, indeed often using the 
same terms, in order to obtain an intelligible terminology. Thus both in 
legal terminology and in everyday speech the term "state" is used both 
for the legal concept of the state and for the phenomena of social action 
to which its legal rules are relevant. For sociological purposes, however, 
d.e phenomenon "the sate" does not consist necessarily or even primarily 
of the elements which axe relevant to legal analysis; and for sociological 
purposes there is no such thing as a collective personality which "acts." 
When reference is made in a sociological context to a state, a nation, a 
corporation, a family, or an army corps, or to similar collectivities, 
what is meant is, on the contrary, only a certain kind of development of 
actual or possible social actions of individual persons. Both because of its 
precision and because it is established in general usage the juristic con- 
cept is taken over, but is used in an entirely different meaning. 

Secondly, the subjective interpretation of action must take account 
of a fundamentally important fact. These concepts of collective entities 
which are found both in common sense and in juristic and other tech- 
nical forms of thought, have a meaning in the minds of individual per- 
sons, partly as of something actually existing, partly as something with 
normative authority. This is true not only of judges and officials, but of 
ordinary private individuals as well. Actors thus in part orient their 
action to them, and in this role such ideas have a powerful, often a 
decisive, causal influence on the course of action of real individuals. This 
is above all true where the ideas involve normative prescription or pro- 
hibition. Thus, for instance, one of the important aspects, of the exist- 
ence of a modem state, precisely as a complex of* serial interaction of 
individual persons, consists in the fact that the action of various indi- 
viduals is oriented to the belief that it exists or should existj thus that 
its acts and laws are valid in the legal sense. This will be further dis- 
cussed below. Though extremely pedantic and cumbersome, it would be 
possible, if purposes of sociological terminology alone were involved, to 
.eliminate such terms entirely, and substitute newly-coined words. This 
would be possible even though the word "state" is used ordinarily not 
only to designate the legal concept but also the real process of action. 
But in the above important connexion, at least, this would naturally be 
impossible. 

Thirdly, it is the method of the so-called "organic" school of sociology 
— classical example: SchaffVs brilliant work, Bau und Leben des 
soztalen Korpers — to attempt to understand social interaction by using as 
a point of departure the "whole" within which the individual acts. His 
action and behavior are then interpreted somewhat in the way that a 



i ] _ Definitions of Sociology and of Social Action i 5 

physiologist would treat the role of an organ of the body in the "economy" 
of the organism, that is from the point of view of the survival of the 
latter. (Compare the famous dictum of a well-known physiologist: "Sec. 
10. The spleen. Of the spleen, gendemen, we know nothing. So much 
for the spleen." Actually, of course, he knew a good deal about the 
spleen — its position, size, shape, etc.; but he could say nothing about its 
function, and it was his inability to do this that he called "ignorance.") 
How far in other disciplines this type of functional analysis of the rela- 
tion of "parts" to a "whole" can be regarded as definitive, cannot be dis- 
cussed here; but it is well known that the bio-chemical and bio-physical 
modes of analysis of the organism are on principle opposed to stopping 
there. For purposes of sociological analysis two things can be said. First 
this functional frame of reference is convenient for purposes of practical 
illustration and for provisional orientation. In these respects, it is not 
only useful but indispensable. But at the same time if its cognitive value 
is overestimated and its concepts illegitimately "reified," 14 it can be highly 
^dangerous. Secondly, in certain circumstances this is the only available 
way of determining just what processes of social action it is important to 
understand in order to explain a given phenomenon. But this is only the 
beginning of sociological analysis as here understood. In the case of 
social collectivities, precisely as distinguished from organisms, we are in 
a position to go beyond merely demonstrating functional relationships 
and uniformities. We can accomplish something which is never attain- 
able in the natural sciences, namely the subjective understanding of the 
action of the component individuals. The natural sciences on the other 
hand cannot do this, being limited to the formulation of causal uni- 
formities in objects and events and the explanation of individual facts 
by applying them. We do not "understand" the behavior of cells, but can 
only observe the relevant functional relationships and generalize on the 
basis of these observations. This additional achievement of explanation 
by interpretive understanding, as distinguished from external observa- 
tion, is of course attained only at a price — the more hypothetical and 
fragmentary character of its results. Nevertheless, subjective understand- 
ing is the specific characteristic of sociological knowledge. 

It would lead too far afield even to attempt to discuss how far the 
behavior of animals is subjectively understandable to us and vice veisa; 
in both cases the meaning of the term understanding and its extent of 
application would be highly problematical. But in so far as such under- 
standing existed it would be theoretically possible to formulate a sociol- 
ogy of the relations of men to animals, both domestic and wild. Thus 
many animals "understand" commands, anger, love, hostility, and react to 
them in ways which are evidently often by no means purely instinctive 



I 6 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ck. I 

and mechanical and in some sense both consciously meaningful and 
affected by experience. In a way, our ability to share the feelings of 
primitive men is not very much greater. We either do not have any 
reliable means of determining the subjective state of mind of an animal 
or what we have is at best very unsatisfactory. It is well known that the 
problems of animal psychology, however interesting, are very thorny 
ones. There are in particular various forms of social organization among 
animals: monogamous and polygamous "families/' herds, Hocks, and 
finally "states," with a functional division of labour. (The extent of func- 
tional differentiation found in these animal societies is by no means, 
however, entirely a matter of the degree of organic or morphological 
differentiation of the individual members of the species. Thus, the func- 
tional differentiation found among the termites, and in consequence that 
of the products of their social activities, is much more advanced than in 
the case of the bees and ants.) In this field it goes without saying that a 
purely functional point of view is often the best that can, at least for the 
present, be attained, and the investigator must be content with it Thus 
it is possible to study the ways in which the species provides for its 
survival; that is, for nutrition, defence, reproduction, and reconstruction 
of the social units. As the principal bearers of these functions, differenti- 
ated types of individuals can be identified: "kings," "queens," "workers," 
"soldiers," "drones," "propagators," "queen's substitutes," and so on. Any- 
thing more than that was for a long time merely a matter of speculation 
or of an attempt to determine the extent to which* heredity on the one 
hand and environment on the other would be involved in the develop-, 
ment of these "social" proclivities. This was particularly true of the con- 
troversies between Gotte and Weismann. 1 * The latter's conception in Die 
AUmacht der Natwztichtung was largely based on wholly non-empirical 
deductions. But all serious authorities are naturally fully agreed that the 
limitation of analysis to the functional level is only a necessity imposed 
by our present ignorance, which it is hoped will only be temporary. (For 
an account of the state of knowledge of the termites, for example, see 
the study by Karl Escherich, Die Termiten oder weissen Ameisen, 
1909.) 
' \ The researchers would like to understand not only the relatively 
obvious survival functions of these various differentiated types, but also 
the bearing of different variants of the theory of heredity or its reverse 
On the problem of explaining how these differentiations have come 
about. Moreover, they would like to know first what factors account for 
the original differentiation of specialized types from the still neutral 
undifferentiated species-type. Secondly, it would be important to know 
what leads the differentiated individual in the typical case to behave 



i ] Definitions of Sociology and of Social Action I 7 

in a way^which actually serves the survival value of the organized group. 
Wherever research has made any progress in the solution of these prob- 
lems it has been through the experimental demonstration of the prob- 
ability or possibility of the role of chemical stimuli or physiological 
processes, such as nutritional states, the effects of parasitic castration, 
etc., in the case of the individual organism. How far there is even a 
hope that the existence of "subjective" or "meaningful" orienntion could 
be made experimentally probable, even the specialist today would hardly 
be in a position to say. A verifiable conception of the state of mind of 
these social animals accessible to meaningful understanding, would seem 
to be attainable even as an ideal goal only within narrow limits. How- 
ever that may be, a contribution to the understanding of human social 
action is hardly to be expected from this quarter. On the contrary, in the 
field of animal psychology, human analogies are and must be continually 
employed. The most that can he hoped for is, then, that these biological 
analogies may some day be useful in suggesting significant problems. 
For instance they may throw light on the question of the relative role in 
,the early stages of human social differentiation of mechanical and in- 
stinctive factors, as compared with that of the factors which are accessible 
to subjective interpretation generally, and more particularly to the role 
of consciously rational action. It is necessary for the sociologist to be 
thoroughly aware of the fact that in the early stages even of human 
development, the first set of factors is completely predominant. Even in 
the later stages he must take account of their continual interaction with 
the others in a role which is often of decisive importance. This is par- 
ticularly true of all "traditional" action and of many aspects of charisma, 
which contain the seeds of certain types of psychic "contagion" and thus 
give rise to new social developments. These types of action are very 
closely related to phenomena which are understandable either only 
in biological terms or can be interpreted in terms of subjective motives 
only in fragments. But all these facts do not discharge sociology from the 
obligation, in full awareness of the narrow limits to which it is confined, 
to accomplish what it alone can do. 

The various works of Othmar Spann [1878-1950] are often full of 
suggestive ideas though at the same time he is guilty of occasional mis- 
understandings and above all of arguing on the basis of pure value 
judgments which have no place in an empirical investigation. But he is 
undoubtedly correct in doing something to which, however, no one seri- 
ously objects, namely, emphasizing the sociological significance of the 
functional point of view for preliminary orientation to problems. This is 
what he calls the "universalistic method." It is true that we must know 
what kind of action is functionally necessary for "survival," but even 



i 8 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS _ [ Ch. 1 

more so for the maintenance of a cultural type and the continuity of the 
corresponding modes of social action, before it is possible even to inquire 
how this aaio.i has come about and what motives determine it. It is 
necessary to know what a "king," an "official," an "entrepreneur," a 
"procurer," or a "magician" does, that is, what kind of typical action, which 
justifies classifying an individual in one of these" categories, is important 
and relevant for an analysis, before it is possible to undertake the analysis 
itself. (This is what Rickert means by Wertbezogenheit.*) But it is only 
this analysis itself which can achieve the sociological understanding of 
the actions of typically differentiated human (and only human) indi- 
viduals, and which hence constitutes the specific function of sociology. 
It is a tremendous misunderstanding to think that an "individualistic" 
method should involve what is in any conceivable sense an individualistic 
system of values. It is as important to avoid this error as the related one 
which confuses the unavoidable tendency of sociological concepts to as- 
sume a rationalistic character with a belief in the predominance of 
rational motives, or even a positive valuation of rationalism. Even a 
socialistic economy would have to be understood sociologically in exacdy 
the same kind of "individualistic" terms; that is, in terms of the action 
of individuals, the types of officials found in it, as would be the case 
with a system of free exchange analysed in terms of the theory of mar- 
ginal utility or a "better," but in this respect similar theory). The real 
empirical sociological investigation begins with the question: What 
motives determine and lead the individual members and participants in 
this socialistic community to behave in such a way that the community 
came into being in the first place and that it continues to exist? Any ' 
form of functional analysis which proceeds from the whole to the parts 
can accomplish only a preliminary preparation for this investigation — 
a preparation, the utility and indispensability of which, if properly car- 
ried out, is naturally beyond question. 

10. It is customary to designate various sociological generalizations, 
as for example "Gresham's Law," as "laws." These are in fact typical 
probabilities confirmed by observation to the effect that under certain 
given conditions an expected course of social action will occur, which is 
understandable in terms of the typical motiyes and typical subjective 
intentions of the actors. These generalizations are both understandable 
and definite in the highest degree insofar as the typically observed course 
of action can be Understood in terms of the purely rational pursuit of 
an end, or where for reasons of methodological convenience such a 
theoretical type can be heuristically employed. In surh cases the relations 
of means and end will be clearly understandable on grounds of experi- 
ence, particularly where the choice of means was "inevitable." In such 



i ] _ Definitions of Sociology and of Social Action i 9 

cases it is legitimate to assert that insofar as the action was rigorously 
rational it could not have taken any other course because for technical 
reasons, given their clearly defined ends, no other means were available 
to the actors. This very case demonstrates how erroneous it is to regard 
any kind of psychology as the ultimate foundation of the sociological 
interpretation of action. The term psychology, to be sure, is today 
understood in a wide variety of senses. For certain cjuite specific method- 
ological purposes the type of treatment which attempts to follow the 
procedures of the natural sciences employs a distinction between 
"physical" and "psychic" phenomena which is entirely foreign to the 
disciplines concerned with human action, at least in the present sense. 
The results of a type of psychological investigation which employs the 
methods of the natural sciences in any one of various possible ways may 
naturally, like the results of any other science, have outstanding signif- 
icance for sociological problems; indeed this has often happened. But 
this use of the results of psychology is something quite different from 
*the investigation of human behavior in terms of its subjective meaning. 
Hence sociology has no closer relationship on a general analytical level 
to this type of psychology than to any other science. The source of error 
lies in the concept of the "psychic." It is held that everything which is 
not physical is ipso facto psychic. However, the meaning of a train of 
mathematical reasoning which a person carries out is not in the relevant 
sense "psychic." Similarly the rational deliberation of an actor as to 
whether the results of a given proposed course of action will or will not 
proinota certain specific interests, and the corresponding decision, do 
not become one bit more understandable by taking "psychological" con- 
siderations into account. But it is Jfrecisely on the basis of such rational 
assumptions that most of the taws of sociology, including those of eco- 
nomics, are built up. On the other hand, in explaining the irrationalities 
of action sociologically, that form of psychology which employs the 
method of subjective understanding undoubtedly can make decisively 
important contributions. But this does not alter the fundamental . ierf]- 
odological situation, 

1 r. We have taken for granted that sociology seeks to formulate type 
concepts and generalized uniformities of empirical process. This dis- 
tinguishes it from history/which is oriented to the causal analysis and 
explanation of individual actions, structures, and personalities possessing 
cultural significance. The empirical material which underlies the con- 
cepts of sociology consists to a very large extent, though by no means 
exclusively, of the same concrete processes of action which are dealt witjb 
by historians. An important consideration in the formulation of soci- 
ological concepts and generalizations is the contribution that sociology 



2 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [Ch. I 

can make toward the causal explanation of some historically and cul- 
turally important phenomenon. As in the case of every generalizing 
science the abstract character of the concepts of sociology is responsible 
for the fact that, compared with actual historical reality, they are rela- 
tively lacking in fullness of concrete content. To compensate for this 
disadvantage, sociological analysis can offer a greater precision of con- 
cepts. This precision is obtained by striving for the highest possible 
degree of adequacy on the level of meaning. It has already been re- 
peatedly stressed that this aim can be realized in a particularly high 
degree in the case of concepts and generalizations which formulate 
rational processes. But sociological investigation attempts to include in 
its scope various irrational phenomena, such as prophetic, mystic, and 
affectual modes of action, formulated in terms of theoretical concepts 
which are adequate on the level of meaning. In all cases, rational or 
.irrational, sociological analysis both abstracts from reality and at the 
same time helps us to understand it, in that it shows with what degree of 
approximation a concrete historical phenomenon can be subsumed under 
one or more of these concepts. For example, the same historical phenome- 
non may be in one aspect feudal, in another patrimonial, in another 
bureaucratic, and in still another charismatic. In order to give a pre- 
cise meaning to these terms, it is necessary for the sociologist to formulate 
pure ideal types of the corresponding forms of action which in each case 
involve the highest possible degree of logical integration by virtue of 
their complete adequacy on the level of meaning. But precisely because 
this is true, it is probably seldom if ever that a real phenomenon can be 
found which corresponds exactly to one of these ideally constructed pure 
types. The case is similar to a physical reaction which has been cal- 
culated on the assumption of an absolute vacuum. Theoretical differ- 
entiation (Ka$: isHk) is possible in sociology only in terms of ideal or 
pure types. It goes ithout saying that in addition it is convenient for 
the sociologist from time to time to employ average types of an em- 
pirical statistical character, concepts which do not require methodological 
discussion. But when reference is made to "typical" cases, the term should 
always be understood, unless otherwise stated, as meaning ideal types, 
which may in turn be: rational or irrational as the case may be (thus 
in economic theory they are always rational), but in any case are always 
constructed with a view to adequacy on the level of meaning. 

It is important to realize that in the sociological field as elsewhere, 
averages, and hence average types, can be formulated with a relative 
degree of precision only when* (hey are concerned with differences of 
degree in respect to action which remains qualitatively the same. Such 
cases do occur, but in the majority of cases of action important to. history 



i ] - Definitions of Sociology and of Social Action 2 1 

or sociology the motives which determine it are qualitatively heterogene- 
ous. Then it is quite impossible to speak of an "average" in the true sense. 
The ideal types of social action which for instance are used in economic 
theory are thus unrealistic or abstract in that they always ask what course 
of action would take place if it were purely rational and oriented to 
economic ends alone. This construction can be used to aid in the under- 
standing of action not purely economically determined but which in- 
volves deviations arising from traditional restraints, affects, errors, and 
the intrusion of other than economic purposes or considerations. This 
can take place in two ways. First, in analysing the extent to which in the 
concrete case, or on the average for a class of cases, the action was in 
part economically determined along with the other factors. Secondly, by 
throwing the discrepancy between the actual course of events and the 
ideal type into relief, the analysis of the non-economic motives actually 
involved is facilitated. The procedure would be very similar in employ- 
ing an ideal type of mystical orientation, with its appropriate attitude of 
Indifference to worldly things, as a tool for analysing its consequences 
for the actors relation to ordinary life — for instance, to political or eco- 
nomic affairs. The more sharply and precisely the ideal type has been 
constructed, thus the more abstract and unrealistic in this sense it is, the 
better it is able to perform its functions in formulating terminology, 
classifications, and hypotheses. In working out a concrete causal explana- 
tion of individual events, the procedure of the historian is essentially the 
same. Thus in attempting to explain the campaign of 1866, it is in- 
dispensable both in the case of Moltke and of Benedek to attempt to 
construct imaginatively how each, given fully adequate knowledge both 
of his own situation and of that of his opponent, would have acted. 
Then it is possible to compare with this the actual course of action and 
to arrive at a causal explanation of the observed deviations, which will 
he attributed to such factors as misinformation, strategical errors, logical 
fallacies, personal temperament, or considerations outside the realm of 
strategy. Here, too, an ideal-typical construction of rational action is 
actually employed even though it is not made explicit. 

The theoretical^ concepts of sociology are ideal types not only from the 
objective point of view, but also in their application to subjective proc- 
esses. In the great majority of cases actual action goes on in a state of in- 
articulate half-consciousness or actual unconsciousness of its subjective 
meaning. The actor is more likely to "be aware" of it in a vague sense than 
he is to "know" what he is doing or be explicitly self-conscious about it. 
In most cases his action is governed by impulse or habit. Only occasion- 
ally and, in the uniform action of large numbers, often- only in the case 
of a few individuals, is the subjective meaning of the action, whether 



2 2 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ck*. I 

rational or irrational, brought clearly into consciousness. The ideal type 
of meaningful action where the meaning is fully conscious and explicit 
is a marginal case. Every sociological or historical investigation, in apply- 
ing its analysis to the empirical facts, must take this fact into account. 
But the difficulty need not prevent the sociologist from systematizing his 
concepts by the classification of possible types of subjective meaning. 
That is, he may reason as if action actually proceeded on the basis of 
clearly self-conscious meaning. The resulting deviation from the concrete 
facts must continually be kept in mind whenever it is a question of this 
level of concreteness, and must be carefully studied with reference both 
to degree and kind. It is often necessary to choose between terms which 
are either clear or unclear. Those which are clear will, to be sure, have 
the abstractness of ideal types, but they are none the less preferable for 
scientific purposes. (On all these questions see " 'Objectivity' in Social 
Science and Social Policy,") 



B. SOCIAL ACTION 

i. Social action, which includes both failure to act and passive 
acquiescence, may be oriented to the past, present, or expected future 
behavior of others. Thus it may be motivated by revenge for a past 
attack, defence against present, or measures of defence against future 
aggression. The "others" may be individual persons, and may be known 
to the actor as such, or may constitute an indefinite plurality and may 
be entirely Unknown as individuals. (Thus, money is a means of ex- 
chanj; ■ which the actor accepts in payment because he orients his action 
to the expectation that a large but unknown number of individuals he is 
personally unacquainted with will be ready to accept it in exchange on 
some ' uture occasion.) 

2. Not ew. ' kind of action, even of overt action, is "social" in the 
sense of the present discussion. Overt action is non-social if it is oriented 
solely to the behavior of inanimate objects. Subjective attitudes constitute 
social action only so far as they are oriented to the behavior of others. For 
example, religious behavior is not social if it is simply a matter of con- 
templation or of solitary prayer. The economic activity of an individual 
is social only if it takes account of the behavior of someone else. Thus 
very generally it becomes social insofar as the actor assumes that others 
will respect his actual control over economic goods. Concretely it is social, 
for instance, if in relation to the actors own consumption the future 
wants of others are taken into account and this becomes one considera- 
tion affecting the actor's own saving. Or, in another connexion, produc- 
tion may be oriented to the future wants of other people. 



i ]* Definitions of Sociology and of Social Action 2. 3 

3. Not every type of contact of human beings has a social character; 
this is rather confined to cases where the actor's behavior is meaning- 
fully oriented to that of others. For example, a mere collision of two 
cyclists may be compared to a natural event. On the other hand, their 
attempt to avoid hitting each other, or whatever insults, blows, or friendly 
discussion might follow the collision, would constitute "social action. 

4. Social action is not identical either with the similar actions of 
many persons Or with every action influenced by other persons. Thus, 
if at the beginning of a shower a number of people on the street put up 
their umbrellas at the same time, this would not ordinarily be a case of 
action mutually oriented to that of each other, but rather of all reacting 
in the same way to the like need of protection from the rain- It is well 
known that the actions of the individual are strongly influenced by 
the mere fact that he is a member of a crowd confined within a limited 
space. Thus, the subject matter of studies of "crowd psychology," such 
as those of Le Bon, will be called "action conditioned by crowds." It is 
also possible for large numbers, though dispersed, to be influenced simul- 
taneously or successively by a source of influence operating similarly on 
all the individuals, as by means of the press. Here also the behavior of 
an individual is influenced by his membership in a "mass" and by the 
fact that he is aware of being a member. Some types of reaction are only 
made possible by the mere fact that the individual acts as part of a 
crowd. Others become more difficult under these conditions. Hence it is 
possible that a particular event or mode of human behavior can give rise 
to the most diverse kinds of feeling — gaiety, anger, enthusiasm, despair, 
and passions of all sorts — in a crowd situation which would not occur at 
all or not nearly so readily if the individual were alone. But for this to 
happen there need not, at least in many cases, be any meaningful rela- 
tion between the behavior of the individual and the fact that he is a 
member of a crowd. It is not proposed in the present sense to call action 
"social" when it is merely a result of the effect on the individual of the 
existence of a crowd as such and the action is not oriented to that fact 
on the level of meaning. At the same time the borderline is naturally 
highly indefinite. In such cases as that of the influence of the demagogue, 
there may be a wide variation in the extent to which his mass clientele is 
affected by a meaningful reaction to the fact of its large numbers; and 
whatever this relation may be, it is open to varying interpretations. 

But furthermore, mere "imitation" of the action of others, such as that 
on which Tarde has rightly laid emphasis, will not be considered a case 
of specifically social action if it is purely reactive so that there is no 
meaningful orientation to the actor imitated. The borderline is, however, 
so indefinite that it is often hardly possible to discriminate. The mere 



2 4 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ch. I 

fact that a person is found to employ some apparently useful procedure 
which he learned from someone else does not, however, constitute, in the 
present sense, social action. Action such as this is not oriented to the 
action of the other person, but the actor has, through observing the 
other, become acquainted with certain objective facts; and it is these to 
which his action is oriented. His action is then causally determined by 
the action of others, but not meaningfully. On the other hand, if the 
action of others is imitated because it is fashionable or traditional or 
exemplary, or lends social distinction, or on similar grounds, it is mean- 
ingfully oriented either to the behavior of the source of imitation or of 
third persons or of both. There are of course all manner of transitional 
cases between the two types of imitation. Both the phenomena discussed 
above, the behavior of crowds and imitation, stand on the indefinite 
borderline of social action. The same is true, as will often appear, of 
traditionalism and charisma. The reason for the indefiniteness of the 
line in these and other cases lies in the fact that both the orientation to 
the behavior of others and the meaning which can be imputed by the 
actor himself, are by no means always capable of clear determination and 
are often altogether unconscious and seldom fully self-conscious. Mere 
"influence" and meaningful orientation cannot therefore always be clearly 
differentiated on the empirical level. But conceptually it is essential to 
distinguish them, even though merely reactive imitation may well have 
a degree of sociological importance at least equal to that of the type 
which can be called social action in the strict sense. Sociology, it goes - 
without saying, is by no means confined to the study of social action; 
this is only, at least for the kind of sociology being developed here, its 
central subject matter, that which may be said to be decisive for its status 
as a science. But this does not imply any judgment on the comparative 
importance of this and other factors. 



2. Types of Social Action 

Social action, like all action, may be oriented in four ways. It may be: 

(i) instrwnentally rational (zweckrational), that is, determined by 
expectations as to the behavior of objects in the environment and of 
other human beings; these expectations are used as "conditions" or 
"means" for the attainment of the actor's own rationally pursued and 
calculated ends; 
(2) value-rational QwertrationaV), that is, determined by a conscious 



2 ] _ Types of Social Action 2 5 

belief in the value for its own sake of some ethical, aesthetic, religious, 
or other form of behavior, independently of its prospects of success; 

(3) affectual (especially emotional), that is, determined by the actor's 
specific affects and feeling states; 

(4) traditional, that is, determined by ingrained habituation. 

1. Strictly traditional behavior, like the reactive- type of imitation 
discussed above, lies very close to the borderline of what can justifiably 
be called meaningfully oriented action, and indeed often on the other 
side. For it is very often a matter of almost automatic reaction to habit- 
ual stimuli whicA guide behavior in a course which has been repeat- 
edly followed. The great bulk of all everyday action to which people 
have become habitually accustomed approaches this type. Hence, its 
place in a systematic classification is not merely that of a limiting case 
because, as will be shown later, attachment to habitual forms can be up- 
held with varying degrees of self -consciousness and in a variety of 
senses. In this case the type may shade over into value rationality 
( Wertratiotutlitat) . 

■. 1. Purely affectual behavior also stands on the borderline of what 
can be considered "meaningfully" oriented, and often it, too, goes over 
the line. It may, for instance, consist in an uncontrolled reaction to 
some exceptional stimulus. It is a case of sublimation when affectually 
determined action occurs in the form of conscious release of emotional 
tension. When this happens it is usually well on the road to rationali- 
zation in one or the other or both of the above senses. 

3. The orientation of value-rational action is distinguished from the 
affectual type by its clearly self-conscious formulation of the ultimate 
values governing the action and the consistently planned orientation of 
its detailed course to these values. At the same time the two types have a ' 
common element, namely that the meaning of the action does not lie in 
the achievement of a result ulterior to it, but in carrying out the speci- 
fic type of action for its own sake. Action is affectual if it satisfies a 
need for revenge, sensual gratification, devotion, contemplative bliss, or 
for working off emotional tensions (irrespective of the level of sublima- 
tion). 

Examples of pure value-rational orientation would be the actions of 
persons who, regardless of possible cost to themselves, act to put into 
practice their convictions of what seems to them to be required by duty, 
honor, the pursuit of beauty, a religious call, personal loyalty, or the 
importance of some "cause" no matter in what it consists. In our termi- 
nology, value-rational action always involves "commands" or "demands" 
which, in the actor's opinion, are binding on him. It is only in cases 
where human action is motivated by the fulfillment of such uncondi- 
tional demands that it will be called value-rational. This is the case in 
widely varying degrees, but for the most part only to a relatively slight 
extent Nevertheless, it will be shown that the occurrence of this mode 
of action is important enough to justify its formulation as a distinct type; 



2 6 ^ASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ck, I 

though it may be remarked that there is no intention here of attempting 
to Formulate in any sense an exhaustive classification of type; of action. 

4. Action is instrumen tally rational Czweckrational^ when the end, 
the means, and the secondary results are all rationally taken into account 
and weighed. This involves rational consideration of alternative means 
to the end, of the relations of the end to the secondary consequences, 
and finally of the relative importance of different possible ends. Deter- 
mination of action either in affectual or in traditional terms is thus 
incompatible with this type. Choice between alternative and conflicting 
ends and results may well be determined in a value-rational manner. 
In that case, action is instrumentally rational only in respect to the 
choice of means. On the other hand, the actor may, instead of deciding 
between alternative and conflicting ends in terms of a rational orienta- 
tion to a system of values, simply take them as given subjective wants 
and arrange them in a scale of consciously assessed relative urgency. He 
may then orient his action to this scale in such a way that they are 
satisfied as far as possible in order of urgency, as formulated in the 
principle of "marginal utility." Value-rational action may thus have 
various different relations to the instrumentally rational action. From 
the latter point of view, however, value-rationality is always irrational. 
Indeed, the more the value to which action is oriented is elevated to the 
status of an absolute value, the more "irrational" in this sense the corre- 
sponding action is. For, the more unconditionally the actor devotes him- 
self to this value for its own sake, to pure sentiment or beauty, to abso- 
lute goodness or devotion to duty, the less is he influenced by consider- 
ations of the consequences of his action. The orientation of action 
wholly to the rational achievement of ends without relation to funda- 
mental values is, to be sure, essentially only a limiting case. 

5, It would he very unusual to find concrete cases of action, espe- 
cially of social action, which were oriented only in one or another of 
these ways. Furthermore, this classification of the modes of orientation 
of action is in no sense meant to exhaust the possibilities of the field, 
but only to formulate in conceptually pure form certain sociologically 
important types to which actual action is more or less closely approxi- 
mated or, in much the more common case, which constitute it.i ele- 
ments. The usefulness of the classification for the purposes of this 
investigation can only be judged in terms of its results. 



3 . The Concept of Social Relationship 

The term "social relationship" will be used to denote the behavior of 
a plurality of actors insofar as, in its meaningful content, the action of 
each takes account of that of the others and is oriented in these terms. 
The social relationship thus consists entirely and exclusivejy in the exist- 



3 ] The Concept of Social Relationship 2 7 

ence of a probability that there will be a meaningful course of social action 
— irrespective, for the time being, of the basis for this probability. 

1. Thus, as a defining criterion, it is essential that there should be 
at least a minimum of mutual orientation of the action of each to that 
of the others. Its content may be of the most varied nature: conflict, 
hostility, sexual attraction, friendship, loyalty, or economic exchange. It 
may involve the fulfillment, the evasion, or the violation of the terms 
of an agreement; economic, erotic, or some other form of "competition"; 
common membership in status, national or class groups (provided it 
leads to social action). Hence, the definition does not specify whether 
the relation of the actors is co-operative or the opposite. 

2. The "meaning" relevant in this context is always a case of the 
meaning imputed to the parties in a given concrete case, on the average, 
or in a theoretically formulated pure type — it is never a normal ively 
"correct" or a metaphysically "true" meaning. Even in cases of such 
forms of social organization as a state, church, association, or marriage, 
the social relationship consists exclusively in the fact that there has ex- 
isted, exists, or will exist a probability of action in some definite way 
appropriate to this meaning. It is vital to be continually clear about this 

' in order to avoid the "reineation" of these concepts. A "state," for ex- 
ample, ceases to exist in a sociologically relevant sense whenever there 
is no longer a probability that certain kinds of meaningfully oriented 
social action will take place. This probability may be very high or it may 
be negligibly low. But in any case it is only in the sense and degree in 
which it does exist that the corresponding social relationship exists. It is 
impossible to find any other clear meaning for the statement that, for 
instance, a given "state" exists or has ceased to exist. 

3. The subjective meaning need not necessarily be the same for all 
the parties who are mutually oriented in a given social relationship; 
there need not in this sense he "reciprocity." "Friendship," "love," 
'loyalty," "fidelity to contracts," "patriotism," on one side, may well be 
faced with an entirely different atdtude on the other. In such cases the 
parties associate different meanings with their actions, and the social 
relationship is insofar objectively "asymmetrical" from the points of view 
of the two parties. It may nevertheless be a case of mutual orientation 
insofar as, even though partly or wholly erroneously, one party pre- 
sumes a particular attitude toward him on the part of the other and 
orients his action to this expectation. This can, and usually will, have 
consequences for the course of action and the form of the relationship. 
A relationship is objectively symmetrical only as, according to the typi- 
cal expectations of the parties, the meaning for one party is the same as 
that for the other. Thus the actual attitude of a child to its father may be 
a least approximately that which the father, in the individual case, on 
the average or typically, has come to expect. A social relationship in 
which the attitudes are completely and fully corresponding is in reality 
a limiting case. But the absence of reciprocity will, for terminological 



2 8 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ck. 1 

purposes, be held to exclude trie existence of a social relationship only 
if it actually results in the absence of a mutual orientation of the action 
of the parties. Here as elsewhere all sorts of transitional cases are the 
rule rather than the exception. 

4. A social relationship can be of a very fleeting character or of 
varying degrees of permanence. In the latter case there is a probability 
of the repeated recurrence of the behavior which corresponds to its sub- 
jective meaning and hence is expected. In order to avoid fallacious im- 
pressions, let it be repeated that it is only the existence of the probability 
that, corresponding to a given subjective meaning, a certain type of 
action will take place which constitutes the "existence" of the social 
relationship. Thus that a "friendship" or a "state" exists or has existed 
means this and only this: that we, the observers, judge that there is or has , 
been a probability that on the basis of certain kinds of known subjective 
attitude of certain individuals there will result in the average sense 3 
certain specific type of action. For the purposes of legal reasoning it is 
essential to be able to decide whether a rule of law does or does not 
carry legal authority, hence whether a legal relationship does or does 
not "exist." This type of question is not, however, relevant to sociologi- 
cal problems. 

5. The subjective meaning of a social relationship may change, thus 
a political relationship once based on solidarity may develop into a 
conflict of interests. In that case it is only a matter of terminological 
convenience and of the degree of continuity of the change whether we 
say that a new relationship has come into existence or that the old one 
continues but has acquired a new meaning. It is also possible for the 
meaning to be partly constant, pardy changing. 

6. The meaningful content which remains relatively constant in a 
social relationship is capable of formulation in terms of maxims which ( 
the parties concerned expect to be adhered to by their partners on the 
average and approximately. The more rational in relation to values or 
to given ends the action is, the more is this likely to be the case. There 
is far less possibility of a rational formulation of subjective meaning in 
the case of a relation of erotic attraction or of personal loyalty or any 
other affectual type than, for example, in the case of a business contract. 

7. The meaning of a social relationship may be agreed upon by 
mutual consent. This implies that the parties make promises covering 
their future behavior, whether toward each other or toward third per- 
sons. In such cases each party then normally counts, so far as he acts 
rationally, in some degree on the fact that the other will orient his ac- 
tion to the meaning of the agreement, as he (the first actor) under- 
stands it. In part he orients his action rationally (.zweckTational) to these 
expectations as given facts with, to be sure, varying degrees of subjec- 
tively "loyal" intention of doing his part. But in part also he is motivated 
value-rationally 'by a sense of duty, which makes him adhere to the 
agreement as he understands it. This much may be anticipated. (For 
a further elaboration, see sees. 9 and 13 below.) 



4 ] Types of Orientation: Usage, Custom, Self-interest 2 y 

4. Types of Action Orientation: Usage, Custom, 
Self-Interest 

Within the realm of social action certain empirical uniformities can 
be observed, that is, courses of action that are repeated by the actor or 
(simultaneously) occur among numerous actors since the subjective 
meaning is meant to be the same. Sociological investigation is concerned 
with these typical modes of action. Thereby it differs from history, the 
subject of which is rather the causal explanation of important individual 
events; important, that is, in having an influence on human destiny. 

If an orientation toward social action occurs regularly, it will be called 
"usage" (Branch*) insofar as the probability of its existence within a 
group is based on nothing but actual practice. A usage will be called a 
"custom" (Sitte) if the practice is based upon long standing. On the 
other hand, a uniformity of orientation may be said to be "determined 
by self-interest," if and insofar as the actors' conduct is instrumentally 
(gweckrarional*) oriented toward identical expectations." 

1. Usage also includes "fashion" (Mode). As distinguished from 
custom and in direct contrast to it, usage will be called fashion so far 
as the mere fact of the novelty of the corresponding behavior is the 
basis of the orientation of action. Its locus is in the neighborhood of 
"convention," 17 since both of them usually spring from a desire for social 
prestige. Fashion, however, will not be further discussed here. 

2. As distinguished from both "convention" and 'Taw," "custom" 
refers to rules devoid of any external sanction. The actor conforms with 
them of his own free will, whether his motivation lies in the fact that 
be merely fails to think about it, that it is more comfortable to conform, 
or whatever eke the reason may be. For the same reasons he can consider 
it likely that other members of the group will adhere to a custom. 

Thus custom is not "valid" in anything like the legal sense; conform- 
ity with it is not "demanded" by anybody. Naturally, the transition from 
this to validly enforced convention and to law is gradual. Everywhere 
what has been traditionally handed down has been an important source 
of what has come to be enforced. Today it is customary every morning to 
eat a breakfast which, within limits, conforms to a certain pattern. But 
there is no obligation to do so, except possibly for hotel guests, and it 
• has not always been customary. On the other hand, the current mode 
of dress, even though it has partly originated in custom, is today very 
largely no longer customary alone, but conventional. 

(On the concepts of usage and custom, the relevant parts of vol. II 
of R. von Jhering's Zweck im Recht are still worth reading. Compare 
also, P. Oertmann, Hechtsordnung und Verhehrssitte (1914); and 
more recently E, Weigelin, Sitte, Hecht und Moral (1919), which 
agrees with the author's position as opposed to that of Stammler.) 



3 O BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ck. 1 

3. Many of the especially notable uniformities in the course of 
social action are not determined by orientation to any sort of norm 
which is held to be valid, nor do they rest on custom, but entirely on 
the fact that the corresponding type of social action is in the nature of 
the case best adapted to the normal interests of the actors as they them- 
selves are aware of them- This is above all true of economic action, for 
example, the uniformities of price determination in a "free" market, 
but is by no means confined to such cases. The dealers in a market 
thus treat their own actions as means for obtaining the satisfaction of 
the ends denned by what they realize to be their own typical economic 
interests, and similarly treat as conditions the corresponding typical 
expectations as to the prospective behavior of others. The more strictly 
rational (xweckrationat) their action is, the more will they tend to react 
similarly to the same situation. In this way there arise similarities, uni- 
formities, and continuities in their attitudes and actions which are often 
far more stable than they would be if action were oriented to a system 
of norms and duties which were considered binding on the members of 
a group. This phenomenon— the fact that orientation to the situation 
in terms of the pure self-interest of the individual and of the others to 
whom he is related can bring about results comparable to those which 
imposednorms prescribe, very often in vain— has aroused a lively inter- 
est, especially in economic affairs. Observation of this has, in fact, been 
one of the important sources of economics as a science. But it is true in 
all other spheres of action as well, This type, with its c'arity of self- 
consciousness and freedom from subjective scruples, is the polar anti- 
thesis of every sort of unthinking acquiescence in customary ways as 
well as of devotion to norms consciously accepted as absolute values. 
One of the most important aspects of the process of "rationaliza- 
tion" of action is the substitution for the unthinking acceptance of 
ancient custom, of deliberate adaptation to situations in terms of self- 
interest. To be sure, this process by no means exhausts the concept of 
rationalization of action. For in addition this can proceed in a variety 
of other directions; positively in that of a deliberate formulation of 
ultimate values (WeTtrationalisieTung); or negatively, at the expense 
not only of custom, but of emotional values; and, finally, in favor of a 
morally sceptical type of rationality, at the expense of anv belief in 
absolute values. The many possible meanings of the concept of 
rationalization will often enter into the discussion. 1S (Further remarks 
on the analytial problem will be found at the end.) 18 

4. The stability of merely customary action rests essentially on 
the fact that the person who does not adapt himself to it is subjected 
to both petty and major inconveniences and annoyances as long as the 
majority of the people he comes in contact with continue to uphold 
the custom and conform with it. 

Similarly, the stability of action in terms of self-interest rests on 
the fact that the person who does not orient his action to the interests 
of others, does not "take account" of them, arouses their antagonism 



4 ] Types of Orientation: Usage, Custom, Self-interest 3 1 

or may end up in a situation different from that which he had fore- 
seen or wished to bring about. He thus runs the risk of damaging 
his own interests. 



5. Legitimate Order 

Action, especially social action which involves a social relationship, 
may be guided by the belief in the existence of a legitimate order. The 
probability that action will actually be so governed will be called the 
"validity" (Geltung) of the order in question. 

1. Thus, the validity of an order means more than the mere 
existence of a uniformity of social action determined by custom or 
self-interest. If furniture movers regularly advertise at the time many 
leases expire, this uniformity is determined by self-interest. If a 
salesman visits certain customers on particular days of the month or 
the week, it is either a case of customary behavior or a product of self- 

1 interested orientation. However, when a civil servant appears in his 
office daily at a fixed time, he does not act only on the basis of 
custom or self-interest which he could disregard if he wanted to; as 
a rule, his action is also determined by the validity of an order (viz., 
the civil service rules), which he fulfills partly because disobedience 
would be disadvantageous to him but also because its violation would 
be abhorrent to his sense of duty (of course, in varying degrees). 

2. Only then will the content of a social relationship be called 
an order if the conduct is, approximately or on the average, oriented 
toward determinable "maxims," Only then will an order be called 

' "valid" if the orientation toward these maxims occurs, among other 
reasons, also because it is in some appreciable way regarded by the 
actor as in some way obligatory or exemplary for him. Naturally, in 
concrete cases, the orientation of action to an order involves a wide 
variety of motives. But the circumstance that, along with the other 
sources of conformity, the order is also held by at least part of the 
actors to define a model or to be binding, naturally increases the 
probability that action will in fact conform to it, often to a very 
considerable degree. An order which is adhered to from motives of 
pure expediency is generally much less stable than one upheld on a 
purely customary basis through the fact that the corresponding behavior 
has become habitual. The latter is much the most common type of 
subjective attitude. But even this type of order is in turn much less 
stable than an order which enjoys the prestige of being considered 
binding, or, as it may be expressed, of 'legitimacy." The transitions 
between orientation to an order from motives of tradition or of ex- 
pediency to the case where a belief in its legitimacy is involved are 
empirically gradual. 



3 2 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ck. 1 

3. It is possible for action to be oriented to an order in other 
ways tHan through conformity with its prescriptions, as they are 
generally understood by the actors. Even in the case of evasion or 
disobedience, the probability of their being recognized as valid norms 
may have an effect on action. This may, in the first place, be true 
from the point of view of sheer expediency. A thief orients bis action 
to the validity of the criminal law in that he acts surreptitiously. The 
fact that the order is recognized as valid in his society is made 
evident by the fact that he cannot violate it openly without punish- 
ment. But apart from this limiting case, it is very common for 
violation of an order to be confined to more or less numerous partial 
deviations from it, or for the attempt to be made, with varying degrees 
of good faith, to justify the deviation as legitimate. Furthermore, there 
may exist at the same time different interpretations of the meaning 
of the order. In such cases, for sociological purposes, each can be said 
to be valid insofar as it actually determines the course of action. The 
fact that, in the same social group, a plurality of contradictory 
systems of order may all be recognized as valid, is not a source of 
difficulty for the sociological approach. Indeed, it is even possible for 
the same individual to orient his action to contradictory systems of 
order. This can take place not only at different times, as is an every- 
day occurrence, but even in the case of the same concrete act. A 
person who fights a duel follows the code of honor; but at the same 
time, insofar as he either keeps it secret or conversely gives himself 
up to the police, he takes account of the criminal law. To be sure, 
when evasion or contravention of the generally understood meaning 
of an order has become the rule, the order can be said to be "valid" 
only in a limited degree and, ir the extreme case, not at all. Thus , 
for sociological purposes there does not exist, as there does for the 
law, a rigid alternative between the validity and lack of validity of a 
given order. On the contrary, there is a gradual transition between 
the two extremes; and also it is possible, as it has been pointed out, 
for contradictory systems of order to exist at the same time. In that 
case each is "valid" precisely to the extent that there is a probability 
that action will in fact be oriented to it. 

[Excursus:] ( Those familiar with the literature of this subject will 
recall the part played by the concept of "order" in the brilliant book 
of Rudolf Stammler, which was cited in the prefatory note, a book 
which, though like all his works it is very able, is nevertheless funda- 
mentally misleading and confuses the issues in 3 catastrophic fashion. 
(The reader may compare the author's critical discussion of it, which 
was also cited in the same place, a discussion which, because of the 
author's annoyance at Stammler's confusion, was unfortunately written 
in somewhat too acrimonious a tone.) Stammler fails to distinguish 
the normative meaning of "validity" from the empirical. He further 
fails to recognize that social action is oriented to other things beside 
systems of order. Above all, however, in a way which is wholly 



5 ] Legitimate Order 3 3 

indefensible from a logical point of view, he treats order as a "form" 
of social action and then attempts to bring it into a type of relation 
to "content," which is analogous to that of form and content in the 
theory of knowledge. Other errors in his argument will be left aside. 
But economic action, for instance, is oriented to knowledge of the 
relative scarcity of certain available means to want satisfaction, in 
relation to the actor's state of needs and to the present and probable 
action of others, insofar as the latter affects the same resources. But 
at the same time, of course, the actor in his choice of economic pro- 
cedures naturally orients himself in addition to the conventional and 
legal rules which he recognizes as valid, that is, of which he knows that 
a violation on his part would call forth a given reaction of other 
persons. Stammler succeeds in introducing a state of hopeless con- 
fusion into this very simple empirical situation, particularly in that 
he maintains that a causal relationship between an order and actual 
empirical action involves a contradiction in terms. It is true, of course, 
that there is no causal relationship between the normative validity of 
an order in the legal sense and any empirical process. In that context 
there is only the question of whether the order as correctly interpreted 
in the legal sense "applies" to the empirical situation. The question 
*is whether in a normative sense it should be treated as valid and, if so, 
what the content of its normative prescriptions for this situation 
should be. But for sociological purposes, as distinguished from legal, 
it is only the probability of orientation to the subjective belief in the 
validity of an order which constitutes the valid order itself. It is 
undeniable that, in the ordinary sense of the word "causal," there 
is a causal relationship between this probability and the relevant 
course of economic action. 



6 . Types of Legitimate Order: Convention and Law 

The legitimacy of an order may be guaranteed in two principal 
ways : i0 

I. The guarantee may he purely subjective, being either 

1. affectuai; resulting from emotional surrender; or 

2. value-rational: determined by the belief in the absolute validity 
of the order as the expression of. ultimate values of an ethical, 
esthetic or of any other type; or 

3. religious: determined by the belief that salvation depends upon 
obedience to the order. 

II. The legitimacy of an order may, however, be guaranteed also Cor 
merely) by the expectation of specific external effects, that is, by interest 
situations. 



3 4 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [Ch. I 

An older will be called 

(a) convention so far as its validity is externally guaranteed by the 
probability that deviation from it within a given social group will 
resillt in a relatively general and practically significant reaction of 
disapproval; 

(b) lav? if it is externally guaranteed by the probability that physical 
or psychological coercion will be applied by a staff of people in order 
to bring about compliance or avenge violation. 

(On the concept of convention see Weigelin, op. cit., and F. 
Tonnies, Die SUte [1909], besides Jhering, op, cit.') 

1. Trie term convention will be employed to designate that part of 
the custom followed within a given social group which is recognized 
as "binding" and protected against violation by sanctions of dis- 
approval. As distinguished from "law" in the sense of the. present 
discussion, it is not enforced by a staff. Stammfer distinguishes con- 
vention from law in terms of the entirely voluntary character of 
conformity. This is not, however, in accord with everyday usage and 

. does not even fit the examples he gives. Conformity with convention 
in such matters as the usual forms of greeting, the mode of dress 
recognized as appropriate or respectable, and various of the rules 
governing the restrictions on social intercourse, both in form and in 
content, is very definitely expected of the individual and regarded 
as binding on him. It is not, as in the case of certain ways of 
preparing food, a mere usage, which he is free to conform to or not 
as he sees fit. A violation of conventional rules — such as standards 
of "respectability" QStandesshte) — often leads to the extremely severe 
and effective sanction of an informal boycott on the part of members of 
one's status group. This may actually be a more severe punishment than ' 
any legal penalty. The only thing lacking is a staff with the specialized 
function of maintaining enforcement of the order, such as judges, prose- 
cuting attorneys, administrative officials, or sheriffs. The transition, how- 
ever, is gradual. The case of conventional guarantee of an order which 
most closely approaches the legal is the application of a formally threat- 
ened and organized boycott. For terminological purposes, this is best 
considered a form of legal coercion- Conventional rules may, in addition 
to mere disapproval, also be upheld by other means; thus domestic au- 
thority may be employed to expel a visitor who defies convention. This 
fact is not, however, important in the present context. The decisive 
point is that the individual, by virtue of the existence of conventional 
disapproval, applies these sanctions, however drastic, on his own author- 
ity, not as a member of a staff endowed with a specific authority for this 
purpose. 

2. For the purposes of this discussion the concept "law" will be 
made to turn on the presence of a staff engaged in enforcement, how- 
ever useful it might be to define it differently for other purposes. The 



6 ] Types of Legitimate Order. Convention and Law 3 5 

character of this agency naturally need not be at all similar to what is 
at present familiar. In particular it is not necessary that there should be 
any specifically "judicial" authority- The dan, as an agency of blood 
revenge and of the prosecution of feuds, is such an enforcing agency if 
there exist any sort of rules which governs its behavior in such situa- 
tions. But this is on the extreme borderline of what can be called legal 
enforcement. As is well known, it has often been denied that interna- 
tional law could be called law, precisely because there is no legal au- 
thority above the state capable of enforcing it. In terms of the present 
terminology this would be correct, for we could not call "law" a system 
the sanctions of which consisted wholly in expectations of disapproval 
and of the reprisals of injured parties, which is thus guaranteed entirely 
by convention and self-interest without the help of a specialized en- 
forcement agency. But for purposes of legal terminology exactly the 
opposite might well be acceptable. 

In any case the means of coercion are irrelevant. Even a "brotherly 
admonition," such as has been used in various religious sects as the first 
degree of mild coercion of the sinner, is "law" provided it is regulated 
by some order and applied by a staff. The same is to be said about the 
'[Roman] censorial reprimand as a means to guarantee the observance of 
ethical duties and, even more so, about psychological coercion through 
ecclesiastic discipline. Hence "law" may be guaranteed by hierocratic as 
well as political authority, by the statutes of a voluntary association or 
domestic authority or through a sodality or some other association. The 
rules of [German students' fraternities Jen own as] the Kcmmfittt [and 
regulating such matters as convivial drinking or singing] are also law in 
our sense, just as the case of those [legally regulated but unenforceable] 
duties which are mentioned in Section 888, paragraph 2 of the German 
Code of Civil Procedure [for instance, the duty arising from an engage- 
ment to many]. sl The leges imperfectae and the category of "natural 
obligations" are forms of legal terminology which express indirectly 
limits or conditions of the application of compulsion. In the same sense 
a trade practice which is compulsorily enforced is also law. See sees. 157 
and 242 of the German Civil Code. On the concept of "fair practice" 
Cgute Sȣte), that is, desirable custom which is worthy of legal sanction, 
see Max Rumelin's essay in the Schtvdhische Heimatgabe fur Theodor 
Hating (1918). 

3. It is not necessary for a valid order to be of a general and abstract 
character. The distinction between a legal norm and the judicial deci- 
sion in a concrete case, for instance, has not always and everywhere 
been as clearly made as we have today come to expect. An "order" may 
thus occur simply as the order governing a single concrete situation. The 
details of this subject belong in the Sociology of Law. But for present 
purposes, unless otherwise specified, the modem distinction between a 
norm and a specific decision will be taken for granted. 

4. A system of order which is guaranteed by external sanctions may 
at the same time be guaranteed by disinterested subjective attitudes* 



3 6 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ch. I 

The relations of law, convention, and "ethics" do not constitute a problem 
for sociology. From a sociological point of view an "ethical" standard is 
one to which men attribute a certain type of value and which, by virtue 
of this belief, they treat as a valid norm governing their action. In this 
sense it can be spoken of as denning what is ethically good in the same 
w iy that action which is called beautiful is measured by esthetic stand- 
ards. It is possible for ethically normative beliefs of this kind to have a 
profound influence on action in the absence of any sort of external 
guarantee. This is often the case when the interests of others would be 
little affected by their violation. 

Such ethical beliefs are also often guaranteed by religious motives, 
but they may at the same time, in the present' terminology, be upheld 
to an important extent by disapproval of violations and the consequent 
boycott, or even legally with the corresponding sanctions of criminal or 
private law or of police measures. Every system of ethics which has in a 
sociological sense become validly established is likely to be upheld to a 
large extent by the probability that disapproval will result from its viola- 
tion, that is, by convention. On the other hand, it is by no means neces- 
sary that all conventionally or legally guaranteed forms of order should 
claim the authority of ethical norms. Legal rules, mych more often than 
conventional ones, may have been established entirely on grounds of 
expediency. Whether a belief in the validity of an order as such, which 
is current in a social group, is to be regarded as belonging to the realm 
of "ethics" or is a mere convention or a mere legal norm, cannot, for 
. sociological purposes, be decided in general terms. It must be treated as 
relative to the conception of what values are treated as "ethical" in the 
social group in question. 



7. Bases of Legitimacy: Tradition, Faith, Enactment 
The actors may ascribe legitimacy to a social order by virtue of: 

(a) tradition: valid is that which has always been; 

(b) affectual, especially emotional, faith: valid is that which is newly 
revealed or exemplary; 

(c) value-rational faith: valid is that which has been deduced as an 
absolute; 

(d) positive enactment which is believed to be legal. 
Such legality may be treated as legitimate because: 

(») it derives from a voluntary agreement of the interested parties; 
09) it is imposed by an authority which is held to be legitimate and 
therefore meets with compliance. 

AH further details, except for a few other concepts to be defined 
below, belong in the Sociology of Law and the Sociology of Domination. 
For the present, only a few remarks are necessary. 



7 ] _ Bases of Legitimacy: Tradition, Faith, Enactment 3 7 

1. The validity of a social order by virtue of the sacredness of tradi- 
tion is the oldest and most universal type of legitimacy. The fear of 
magical evils reinforces the general psychological inhibitions against any 
sort of change in customary modes of action. At the same time the mani- 

' fold vested interests which tend to favor conformity with an established 
order help to perpetuate it. (More in ch. III.) 

2. Conscious departures from tradition in the establishment of a 
new order were originally almost entirely due to prophetic oracles or at 
least to pronouncements which were sanctioned as prophetic and thus 
were considered sacred. This was true as late as the statutes of the 
Greek aisymnetai. Conformity thus depended on belief in the legiti- 
macy of the prophet. In times of strict traditionalism a new order — one 
actually regarded as new— was not possible without revelation unless it 
was claimed that it had always been valid though not yet rightly known, 
or that it had been obscured for a time and was now being restored to its 
rightful place, 

3. The purest type of legitimacy based on value-rationality is natural 
law. The influence of its logically deduced propositions upon actual con- 
duct has lagged far behind its ideal claims; that they have had some 
influence cannot be denied, however. Its propositions must be distin- 
guished from those of revealed, enacted, and traditional law. 

4. Today the most common form of legitimacy is the belief in legal- 
ity, the compliance with enactments which are formally correct and 
which have been made in the accustomed manner. In this respect, the 
distinction between an order derived From voluntary agreement and one 
which has been imposed is only relative. For so far as the agreement 
underlying the order is not unanimous, as in the past has often been 
held necessary for complete legitimacy, the order is actually imposed 
upon the minority; in this frequent case the order in a given group de- 
pends upon the acquiescence of those who hold different opinions. On 
the other hand, it is very common for minorities, by force or by the use 
of more ruthless and far-sighted methods, to impose an order which in 
the course of time comes to be regarded as legitimate by those who orig- 
inally resisted it. Insofar as the ballot is used as a legal means of altering 
an order, it is very common for the will of a minority to attain a formal 
majority and for the majority to submit. In this case majority rule is a 
mere illusion. The belief in the legality of an order as established by 
voluntary agreement is relatively ancient and is occasionally found 
among so-called primitive people; but in these cases it is almost always 
supplemented by the authority of oracles. 

5. So far as it is not derived merely from fear or from motives of 
expediency, a willingness to submit to an order imposed by one man or 
a small group, always implies a belief in the legitimate authority (Herr- 
schaftsgewali) of the source imposing it. This subject will be dealt with 
separately below : see sections 13 and 16 and ch. III. 

6. Submission to an order is almost always determined by a variety 
of interests and by a mixture of adherence to tradition and belief in 



3 8 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ch. I 

legality, unless it is a case of entirely new regulations. In a very large 
proportion of cases, the actors subject to the order are of course not even 
aware how far it is a matter of custom, of convention, or of law, In such 
cases the sociologist must attempt to formulate the typical basis of valid- 
ity. 



8. Conflict, Competition, Selection 

A social relationship will be referred to as "conflict" (Kampf) insofar 
as action is oriented intentionally to carrying out the actor's own will 
against the resistance of the other party or parties. The term "peaceful" 
conflict will be applied to cases in which actual physical violence is not 
employed. A peaceful conflict is "competition" insofar as it consists in a 
formally peaceful attempt to attain control over opportunities and ad- 
vantages which are also desired by others. A competitive process is "regu- 
lated" competition to the extent that its ends and means are oriented to 
an order. The struggle, often latent, which takes place between human 
individuals or social types, for advantages and for survival, but without 
a meaningful mutual orientation in terms of -conflict, will be called "se- 
lection." Insofar as it is a matter of the relative opportunities of individ- 
uals during their own lifetime, it is "social selection"; insofar as it 
concerns differential chances for the survival of hereditary characteristics, 
"biological selection,". 

i. There are all manner of continuous transitions ranging from the i 
bloody type of conflict which, setting aside all rules, aims at the destruc- 
tion of the adversary, to the case of the battles of medieval chivalry, 
bound as they were to the strictest conventions, and to the strict regula- 
tions imposed on sport by the rules, of the game. A classic example of 
conventional regulation in war is the herald's call before the battle of 
Fontenoy: "Messieurs les Anglais, tirez Ies premiers/' 22 There are transi- 
tions such as that from unregulated competition of, let us say, suitors for 
. the favor of a woman to the competition for economic advantages in 
exchange relationships, bound as that is by the order governing the 
market, or to strictly regulated competitions for artistic awards or, finally, 
to the struggle for victory in election campaigns. The conceptual separa- 
tion of peaceful [from violent] conflict is justified by the quality of the 
means normal to it and the peculiar sociological consequences of its oc- 
currence (see ch. II and later). 

2. All typical struggles and modes of competition which take place 
on a large scale will lead, in the long run, despite the decisive im- 
portance in many individual cases of accidental factors and luck, to a 
selection of those who have in the higher degree, on the average, pos- 
sessed the personal qualities important to success. What qualities are 



8 ] Conflict, Competition, Selection 3 9 

important depends on the conditions in which the conflict or competi- 
tion takes place. It may be a matter of physical strength or of unscrupu- 
lous cunning, of the level of mental ability or mere lung power and 
skill in the technique of demagoguery, of loyalty to superiors or of 
ability to flatter the masses, of creative originality, or of adaptability, of 
qualities which are unusual, or of those which are possessed by the 
mediocre majority. Among the decisive conditions, it must not be for- 
gotten, belong the systems of order to which the behavior of the parties 
is oriented, whether traditionally, as a matter of rationally disinterested 
loyalty (wertrational'), or of expediency. Each type of order influences 
opportunities in the process of social selection differendy. 

Not every process of social selection is, in the present sense, a case of 
conflict. Social selection, on the contrary, means only in the first in- 
stance that certain types of behavior, and possibly of the corresponding 
personal qualities, lead more easily to success in the role of "lover," 
"husband," "member of parliament," "official," "contractor," "managing 
director," "successful business man," and so on. But the concept does not 
specify whether this differential advantage in selection for social success 
is brought to bear through conflict or not, neither does it specify 
whether the biological chances of survival of the type are affected one 
way or the other. 

It is only where there is a genuine competitive process that the term 
conflict will be used [i.e., where regulation is, in principle, possible]." 
It is only in the sense of "selection" that it seems, according to our 
experience, that conflict is empirically inevitable, and it is furthermore 
only in *he sense of biological selection that it is inevitable in principle- 
Selection is inevitable because apparently no way can be worked out of 
eliminating it completely. Even the most strictly pacific order can elimi- 
nate means of conflict and the objects of and impulses to conflict only 
partially. Other modes of conflict would come to the fore, possibly in 
processes of open competition. But even on the Utopian assumption that 
all competition were completely eliminated, conditions would still lead 
to a latent process of selection, biological or social, which would favor 
the types best adapted to the conditions, whether their relevant qualities- 
were mainly determined by heredity or by environment. On an empiri- 
cal level the elimination of conflict cannot go beyond a point which 
leaves room for some social selection, and in principle a process of bio- 
logical selection necessarily remains. 

3. From the struggle of individuals for personal advantages and sur- 
vival, it is naturally necessary to distinguish the "conflict" and the "selec- 
tion" of social relationships. It is only in a metaphorical sense that these 
concepts can be applied to the latter. For relationships exist only as 
individual actions with particular subjective meanings. Thus a process of 
selection or a conflict between them means only that one type of action - 
has in the course of time been displaced by another, whether it is action 
by the same persons or by others. This may occur in various ways. 
Human action may in the first place be consciously aimed to alter cer- 



4 O BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ch. I 

tain social relationships — that is, to alter the corresponding action — or it 
may be directed to the prevention of their development or continuance. 
Thus a "state" may be destroyed by war or revolution, or a conspiracy 
may be broken up by savage, suppression; prostitution may be suppressed 
by police action; "usurious" business practices, by denial of legal protec- 
tion or by penalties. Furthermore, social relationships may be influenced 
by the creation of differential advantages which favor one type over an- 
other. It is possible either for individuals or for organized groups to 
pursue such ends. Secondly, it may, in various, ways, be an unantici- 
pated consequence of a course of social action and its relevant conditions 
that certain types of social relationships (meaning, of course, the cor- 
responding actions) will be adversely affected in their opportunities to 
maintain themselves or to arise. All changes of natural and social condi- 
tions^have some sort of effect on the differential probabilities of survival 
of social relationships. Anyone is at liberty to speak in such cases of a 
process of "selection" of social relationships. For instance, he may say 
that among several states the "strongest," in the sense of the best 
"ad. - d," is victorious. It must, however, be kept in mind that this 
so-caiitd "selection" has nothing to do with the selection of types of 
human individuals in either the social or the biological sense. In every 
case it is necessary to inquire into the reasons which have led to a change 
in the chances of survival of one or another form of social action or 
social relationship, which have broken up a social relationship or per- 
mitted it to continue at the expense of other competing forms. The ex- 
planation of these processes involves so many factors that it does not 
seem expedient to employ a single term for them. When this is done, 
there is always a danger of introducing uncritical value- judgments into 
empirical investigation. There is, above all, a danger of being primarily 
concerned with justifying the success of an individual case. Since indi- 
vidual cases are often dependent on highly exceptional circumstances, 
they may be in a certain sense "fortuitous." In recent years there has 
been more than enough of this kind of argument. The fact that a given 
specific social relationship has been eliminated for reasons peculiar to a 
particular situation, proves nothing whatever about its "fitness to survive" 
in general terms. 



9. Communal and Associative Relationships 

A social relationship will be called "communal" (V ergemeinschaf- 
tung) if and so far as the orientation of social action — whether in the 
individual case, on the average, or in the pure type- — is based on a 
subjective feeling of the parties, whether affectual or traditional, that 
they belong together. 

A social relationship will be called "associative" QJergeselhchaftung) 
if and insofar as the orientation of social action within it rests on a 



o ] Communal and Associative Relationships 4 1 

rationally motivated adjustment of interests or a similarly motivated 
agreement, whether the basis of rational judgment be absolute values or 
reasons of expediency. It is especially common, though by no means 
inevitable, for the associative type of relationship to rest on a rational 
agreement by mutual consent. In that case the corresponding action is, 
at the pole of rationality, oriented either to a value-rational belief in one's 
own obligation, or to a rational (zweckrationale) expectation that the 
other party will live up to it. 

This terminology is similar to the distinction made by Ferdinand 
Tonnies in his pioneering work, Gemeinschaft und Gesellsckaft; but for 
his purposes, Tonnies has given this distinction a rather more specific 
meaning than would be convenient for purposes of the present discus- 
sion. 2 * The purest cases of associative relationships are: (a) rational free 
market exchange, which constitutes a compromise of opposed but com- 
plementary interests; (b) the pure voluntary association based on self- 
interest (Zweckverein'), a case of agreement as to a long-run course of 
action oriented purely to the promotion of specific ulterior interests, 
economic or other, of its members; (c) the voluntary association of indi- 
viduals motivated by an adherence to a set of common absolute values 
(Gesinnungsvere'm^), for example, the rational sect, insofar as it does not 
cultivate emotional and affective interests, but seeks only to serve a 
"cause." This last case, to be sure, seldom occurs in anything approach- 
ing the pure type. 

2. Communal relationships may rest on various types of affectual, 
emotional, or traditional bases. Examples are a religious brotherhood, an 
erotic relationship, a relation of persona] loyalty, a national community, 
the esprit de corps of a military unit. The type case is most conveniently 
illustrated by the family. But the great majority of social relationships 
has this characteristic to some degree, while being at the same time to 
some degree determined by associative factors. No matter how calculat- 
ing and hard-headed the ruling considerations in such a social relation- 
ship^ — -as that of a merchant to his customers — may be, it is quite pos- 
sible for it to involve emotional values which transcend its utilitarian 
significance. Every social relationship which goes beyond the pursuit of 
immediate common ends, which hence lasts for long periods, involves . 
relatively permanent social relationships between the same persons, and 
these cannot be exclusively confined to the technically necessary activi- 
ties. Hence in such cases as association in the same military unit, in the 
same school class, in the same workshop or office, there is always some 
tendency in this direction, although the degree, to he sure, varies enor- 
mously. Conversely, a social relationship which is normally considered 
primarily communal may involve action on the part of some or even all 
of the participants which is to an important degree oriented to consid- 
erations of expediency. There is, for instance, a wide variation in the 
extent to which the members of a family group feel a genuine com- 
munity of interests or, on the other hand, exploit the relationship for 



4 2 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ch. J 

their own ends. The concept of communal relationship has been in- 
tentionally denned in very general terms and hence includes a very 
heterogeneous group of phenomena. 

3. The communal type of relationship is, according to the usual 
interpretation of its subjective meaning, the most radical antithesis of 
conflict. This should not, however, be allowed to obscure the fact that 
coercion of all sorts is a very common thing in even the most intimate of 
such communal relationships if one party is weaker in character than 
the other. Furthermore, a process of the selection of types leading to 
differences in opportunity and survival, goes on within these relation- 
ships just the same as anywhere else. Associative relationships, on the 
other hand, very often consist only in compromises between rival in- 
terests, where only a part of the occasion or means of conflict has been 
eliminated, or even an attempt has been made to do so. Hence, outside 
the area of compromise, the conflict of interests, with its attendant com- 
petition for supremacy, remains unchanged. Conflict and communal 
relationships are relative concepts. Conflict varies enormously according 
to the means, employed, especially whether they are violent or peaceful, 
and to the ruthlessness with which they are used. It has already been 
pointed out that any type of order governing social action in some way 
leaves room for a process of selection among various rival human types. 

4. It is by no means true that the existence of common qualities, a 
common situation, or common modes of behavior imply the existence of 
a communal social relationship. Thus, for instance, the possession of a 
common biological inheritance by virtue of which persons are classified 
as belonging to the same "race," naturally implies no sojS of communal 
social relationship between them. By restrictions on stjdal intercourse 
and on marriage persons may find themselves in a similar situation, a 
situation of isolation from the environment which imposes these distinc- 
tions. But even if they all react to this situation in the same way, this 
does not constitute a communal relationship. The latter does not even 
exist if they have a common "feeling" about this situation and its conse- 

Suences. It is only when this feeling leads to a mutual orientation of 
leir behavior to each other that a social relationship arises between 
them rather than of each to the environment Furthermore, it is only so 
far as this relationship involves feelings of belonging together that it is 
a "communal" relationship. In the case of the jews, for instance, except 
for Zionist circles and the action of certain associations promoting speci- 
fically Jewish interests, there thus exist communal relationships only to 
a relatively small extent; indeed, jews often repudiate the existence of a 
Jewish "community." 

A common language, which arises from a similarity of tradition 
through the family and the surrounding social enviror merit, facilitates 
mutual understanding, and thus the formation of all types of social rela- 
tionships, in the highest degree. But taken by itself it is not sufficient 
to constitute a communal relationship, rather, it facilitates intercourse 
within thegroups concerned, hence the development of associate rela- 
tionships. This takes place between individuals, not because they speak 



9 ] Communal and Associative Relationships 4 3 

the same language, but because they have other types of interests. 
Orientation to the rules of a common language is thus primarily impor- 
tant as a means of communication, not as the content of a social rela- 
tionship. It is only with the emergence of a consciousness of difference 
from third persons who speak a different language that the fact that 
two persons speak the same language, and in that respect share a com- 
mon situation, can lead them to a feeling of community and to modes of 
social organization consciously based on the sharing of the common 
language. 

Participation in a "market" is of still another kind. It encourages 
association between the exchanging parties and a social relationship, 
above all that of competition, between the individual participants who 
must mutually orient their action to each other. But no further modes 
of association develop except in cases where certain participants enter 
into agreements in order to better their competitive situations, or where 
they all agree on rules for the purpose of regulating transactions and of 
securing favorable general conditions for all. (It may further be re- 
marked that the market and the competitive economy resting on it form 
the most important type of the reciprocal determination of action in 
terms of pure self-interest, a type which is characteristic of modern eco- 
nomic life.) 



lo. Open and Closed Relationships 

A social relationship, regardless of whether it is communal or associ- 
ative in character, will be spoken of as "open" to outsiders if and inso- 
far as its system of order does not deny participation to anyone who 
wishes to join and is actually in a position to do so. A relationship will, 
on the other hand, bes called "closed" against outsiders, so tar as, accord- 
ing to its subjective meaning and its binding rules, participation of certain 
persons is excluded, limited, or subjected $0 conditions. Whether a rela- 
tionship is open or closed may be determined traditionally, afrectually, 
or rationally in terms of values or of expediency, It is especially likely to 
be closed, for rational reasons, in the following type of situation: a social 
relationship may provide the parties to it with opportunities for the 
satisfaction of spiritual or material interests, whether absolutely or instro- 
mentally, or whether it is achieved through co-operative action or by a 
compromise of interests. If the participants expect that the adnusskm of 
others will lead to an improvement of their situation, an improvement in 
degree, in kind, in the security or the value of the satisfaction, their inter- 
est will be in keeping the relationship open. If, on the other hand, their 
expectations are of improving their position by monopolistic tactics, their 
interest is in a closed relationship. 



4 4 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ch. I 

There are various ways m which it is possible for a closed social rela- 
tionship to guarantee its monopolized advantages to the parties, (a) Such 
advantages may be left free to competitive struggle within the group; (b) 
they may be regulated or rationed in amount and kind, or (c) they may 
be appropriated by individuals or sub-groups on a permanent basis and 
become more or less inalienable. The last is a case of closure within, as 
well as against outsiders. Appropriated advantages will be called "rights." 
As determined by the relevant order, appropriation may be (i) for the 
benefit of the members of particular communal or associative groups (for 
instance, household groups), or (2) for the benefit of individuals. In 
the latter case, the individual may enjoy his rights on a purely personal 
basis or in such a way that in case of his death one or more other persons 
related to the holder of the right by birth (kinship), or by some other 
social relationship, may inherit the rights in question. Or the rights may 
pass to one or more individuals specifically designated by the holder. 
These are cases of hereditary appropriation. Finally, (3) it may be that 
the holder is more or less fully empowered to alienate his rights by volun- 
tary agreement, either to other specific persons or to anyone he chooses. 
This is alienable appropriation. A party to a closed social relationship 
will be called a "member"; in case his participation is regulated in such 
a way as to guarantee him appropriated advantages, a privileged mem- 
ber (Rechtsgenosse). Appropriated rights which are enjoyed by individ- 
uals through inheritance or by hereditary groups, whether communal or 
associative, will be called the "property" of the individual or of groups 
in question; and, insofar as they are alienable, "free" property. 

The apparently gratuitous tediousness involved in the elaborate def- 
inition of the above concepts is an example of the fact that we often 
neglect to think out clearly what seems to be obvious, because it is in- 
tuitively familiar. 

1. (a) Examples of communal relationships, which tend to be closed 
on a traditional basis, are those in which membership is determined by 
family relationship. 

(b) Personal emotional relationships are usually affectually closed. 
Examples are erotic relationships and, very commonly, relations of per- 
sonal loyalty. 

(c) Gosure on the basis of value-rational commitment to values is 
usual in groups sharing a common system of explicit religious belief. 

(d) Typical cases of rational closure on grounds of expediency are 
economic associations of a monopolistic or a plutocratic character. 

A few examples may be taken at random. Whether a group of peo- 
ple engaged in conversation is open or closed depends on its content. 
General conversation is apt to be open, as contrasted with intimate con- 
versation-ot the imparting of official information. Market relationships 



i o ] Of en and Closed Relationships 4 5 

are in most, or at least in many, cases essentially open. In the case of 
many relationships, both communal and associative, there is a tendency 
to shift from a phase of expansion to one of exclusiveness. Examples are 
the guilds and the democratic city-states of Antiquity and the Middle 
Ages. At times these groups sought to increase their membership in the 
interest of improving the security of their position of power by adequate 
numbers. At other times they restricted their membership to protect 
the value of their monopolistic position. The same phenomenon is not 
uncommon in monastic orders and religious sects which have passed 
from a stage of religious proselytizing to one of restriction in the interest 
of the maintenance of an ethical standard or for the protection of mate- 
rial interests. There is a similar close relationship between the extension 
of market relationships in the interest of increased turnover on the one 
hand, their monopolistic restriction on the other. The promotion of 
linguistic uniformity is today a natural result of the interests of pub- 
lishers and writers, as opposed to the earlier, not uncommon, tendency 
for status groups to maintain linguistic peculiarities or even for secret 
languages to emerge. 

2. Both the extent and the methods of regulation and exclusion in 
1 relation to outsiders may vary widely, so that the transition from a state 

of openness to one of regulation and closure is gradual. Various condi- 
tions of participation may be laid down; qualifying tests, a period of 
probation, requirement of possession of a share which can be purchased 
under certain conditions, election of new members by ballot, member- 
ship or eligibility by birth or by virtue of achievements open to anyone. 
Finally, in case of closure and the appropriation of rights within the 
group, participation may be dependent on the acquisition of an appro- 
priated right. There is * wide variety of different degrees of closure and 
of conditions of participation. Thus regulation and closure are relative 
concepts. There are all manner of gradual shadings as between an ex- 
clusive club, a theatrical audience the members of which have pur- 
chased tickets, and a party rally to which the largest possible number 
has been urged to come; similarly, from a church service open to the 
general public through the rituals of a limited sect to the mysteries of 
a secret cult. 

3. Similarly, closure within the group may also assume the most 
varied forms. Thus a caste, a guild, or a group of stock exchange 
brokers, which is closed to outsiders, may^Ilow to its members a per- 
fectly free competition for all the advantages which the group as a 
whole monopolizes for itself. Or it may assign every member strictly to 
the enjoyment of certain advantages, such as claims over customers 01 
particular business opportunities, for life or even on a hereditary basis. 
This is particularly characteristic of India. Similarly, a closed group of 
settlers (Markgenossensckaft) may allow its members free use of the 
resources of its area or may restrict them rigidly to a plot assigned to 
each individual household. A closed group of colonists may allow free 
use of the land or sanction and guarantee permanent appropriation of 



4 6 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ch. I 

separate holdings. In such cases all conceivable transitional and inter- 
mediate forms can be found. Historically, the closure of eligibility to 
fiefs, benefices, and offices within the group, and the appropriation on 
the part of those enjoying them, have occurred in the most varied forms. 
Similarly, the establishment of rights to and possession of particr 1 
jobs on the part of workers may develop all the way from the "closed 
shop" to a right to a particular job. The first step in this development 
may be to prohibit the dismissal of a worker without the consent of the 
workers' representatives. The development of the "works councils" [in 
Germany after 1918] might be a first step in this direction, though it 
need not be." 

All the details must be reserved for the later analysis. The most 
extreme form of permanent appropriation is found in cases where par- 
ticular rights are guaranteed to an individual or to certain groups of 
them, such as households, clans, families, in such a way that it is speci- 
fied in the order either that, in case of death, the rights descend to specific 
heirs, or that the possessor is free to transfer them to any other person 
at will. Such a person thereby becomes a party to the social relation- 
ship so that, when appropriation has reached this extreme within the 
group, it becomes to that extent an open group in relation to outsiders. 
This is true so long as acquisition of membership is not subject to the 
ratification of the other, prior members. 

4. The principal motives for closure of a relationship are: (a) The 
maintenance of quality, which is often combined with the interest in 
prestige and the consequent opportunities to enjoy honor, and even 
profit, examples are communities of ascetics, monastic orders, especially, 
for instance, the Indian mendicant orders, religious sects like the Puri- 
tans, gitganized groups of warriors, of ntinisteriaUs and other tunc- , 
tionaries, organized citizen bodies as in the Greek States, craft guilds; 

(b) the contraction of advantages in relation to consumption needs 
Q'iahrungssfielTaum)** examples are monopolies of consumption, the 
most developed form of which is a self-subsistent village community; 

(c) the growing scarcity of opportunities for acquisition (Erwerksspiel- 
raum). This is found in trade monopolies such as guilds, the an- 
cient monopolies of fishing rights, and so on. Usually motive (a) is 
combined with (b) or (c). 



1 1 . The Imputation of Social Action: Representation and 
Mutual Responsibility 

■Within a social relationship, whether it is traditional or enacted, cer- 
tain kinds of action of each participant may be imputed to all others, in 
which case we speak o£ "mutually responsible members"; or the action 
ei certain members (the "representatives") may be attributed to the 



1 1 ] Re-presentation and Mutual Responsibility 4 7 

others (the "represented"). In both cases, the members will share the 
resulting advantages as well as the disadvantages. 

In accordance with the prevailing order, the power of representation 
may be (a) completely appropriated in all its forms — the case of self- 
appointed authority (JLigenvollmachi); (b) conferred in accordance with 
particular characteristics, permanently or for a limited term; (c) conferred 
by specific acts of the members or of outside persons, again permanently 
or for a limited term — the cases of "derived" or "delegated" powers. 

There are many different conditions which determine the ways in 
which social relationships, communal or associative, develop relations of 
mutual responsibility or of representation. In general terms, it is possible 
only to say that one of the most decisive is the extent to which the action 
of the group is oriented to violent conflict or to peaceful exchange as its 
end. Besides these, many special circumstances, which can only be dis- 
cussed in the detailed analysis, may be of crucial importance. It is not 
surprising that this development is least "conspicuous in groups which 
pursue purely ideal ends by peaceful means. Often the degree of closure 
against outsiders is c .osely related to the development of mutual responsi- 
bility or of representation. But this is by no means always the case. 

1. Imputation may in practice involve both active and passive mu- 
tual responsibility. All participants may be held responsible for the 
action of any one just as he himself is, and similarly may be entitled to 
enjoy any benefits resulting from this action. This responsibility may 
be owed to spirits or gods, that is, involve a religious orientation; or it 
may be responsibility to other human beings, as regulated by convention 
or by law. Examples of regulation by convention are blood revenge 
carried out against or with the help of members of the kin group, and 
reprisals against the inhabitants of the town or the country of the of- 
fender; of the legal type, formal punishment of relatives and members 
of the household or community, and personal liability of members of a 
household or of a commercial partnership for each other's debts. Mutual 
responsibility in relation to gods has also had very significant historical 
results. For instance, in the covenant of Israel with Jahveh, in early 
Christianity, and in the early Puritan community. 

On the other hand, the imputation may mean no more than that the 
participants in 3 closed social relationship, by virtue of the traditional 
or legal order, accept as legally binding a representative's decisions, 
especially over economic resources. (Examples are the "validity" of de- 
cisions by the executive committee of a voluntary association or by 
the responsible agent of a political or economic organization over re- 
sources which, as specified in the statutes, are meant to serve the group's 
purposes.) 

2. Mutual responsibility is typically found in the following cases: 
(a) In traditional, communal groups based on birth or th» sharing of a 



4 8 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ch. I 

common life; for example, the household and the kinship unit; (b) 
in closed relationships which maintain by force a monopolized position 
and control over the corresponding benefits; the typical case is the 
political association, especially in the past, but also today, most strikingly 
in time of war; (c) in profit-oriented enterprises whose participants 
personally conduct the business; the type case is the business partner- 
ship; (d) in some cases, in labor associations; e.g., the [Russian] artel. 
Representation is most frequently found in associations devoted to 
specific purposes and in legally organized groups, especially when funds 
have been collected and must be administered in the interests of the 
group. This will be further discussed in the Sociology of Law. 

3. The power of representation is conferred according to characteris- 
tics when it goes by seniority or some other such rule. 

4. It is not possible to carry the analysis of this subject further in 
general terms; its elaboration must be reserved to the detailed investiga- 
tion. The most ancient and most universal phenomenon in this field is 
that of reprisal, meant either as revenge or as a means of gaining control 
of hostages, or some other kind of security against future injury. 



12. The Organization 

A social relationship which is either closed or limits the admission of 
outsiders will be called an organization (Verhand) when its regulations 
are enforced by specific individuals : a chief and, possibly, an administra- 
tive staff, which normally also has representative powers. The incumbency 
of a policy-making position or participation in the functions of the staff, 
constitute "executive powers" (,RegieTungsgewakten\ These may be ap- 
propriated, or they may be assigned, in accordan«*with the regulations 
of the organization, to specific persons or to individuals selected on the 
basis of specific characteristics or procedures. "Organized action" is (a) 
either the staff's action, which is legitimated by its executive or represent- 
ative powers and oriented to realizing the organization's order, or (b) 
the members' action as directed by the staff. 27 

1. It is terminologically indifferent whether the relationship is of a 
communal or associative character. It is sufficient for there to be a per- 
son or persons in authority — the head of a family, the executive com- 
mittee of an association, a managing director, a prince, a president, the 
head of a church — whose action is concerned with carrying into effect 
the order governing the organization. This criterion is decisive because 
it is not merely a matter of action which is oriented to an order, but 
which is specifically directed to its enforcement. Sociologically, this adds 
to the concept of a closed social relationship a further element, which is 
of far-reaching empirical importance. For by no means every closed com- 
munal or associative relationship is an organization. For instance,_ this is 



12 ] ^ The Organization 4 9 

not true of an erotic relationship or of a kinship group without a head. 

2. Whether or not an organization exists is entirely a matter of the 
presence of a person in authority, with or without an administrative staff. 
More precisely, it exists so far as there is a probability that certain persons 
wii' act in such a way as to carry out the order governing the organiza- 
tion; that is, that persons are present who can be counted on to act in 
this way whenever the occasion arises. For purposes of definition, it is 
indifferent what is the basis of the relevant expectation, whether it is a 
case of traditional, affectual or value-rational devotion (such as feudal 
fey'ty, loyalty to an officer or to a service). It may, on the other hand, 
be a matter of expediency, as, for instance, a pecuniary interest in the 
attached salary. Thus, for our purposes, the organization does not exist 
ap:\n from the probability that a course of action oriented in this way 
wiSi take place. If there is no probability of this type of action on the 
part of a particular group of persons or of a given individual, there is in 
shiest ten ns only a social relationship. On the other hand, so long as 
there is a probability of such action, the organization as a sociological 
phenomenon continues to exist, in spite of the fact that the specific 
individuals whose action is oriented to the order in question, may have 
been completely changed. The concept has been defined intentionally 
to include precisely this phenomenon. 

3. It is possible (a) that, in addition to the action of the adminis- 
trative staff itself or that which takes place under 'its direction, there 
may be other cases where action of the participants is intended to up- 
hold the authority of the order; for instance, contributions or 'liturgies," 
that is, certain types of personal services, such as jury service or military 
service. It is also possible (b) for the order to include norms to which it 
is expected that the action of the members of an organization will be 
oriented in respects other than those pertaining to the affairs of the 
organization as a unit. For instance, the law of the state includes rules 
governing private economic relations which are not concerned with the 
enforcement of the state's legal order as such, but with action in the 
service of private interests. This is true of most of the "civil" law. In 
the first case (a) one may speak of action oriented to organizational 
affairs (verbandsbezogenes Handeln); in the second (b) of action sub- 
ject to the organization's regulation (verbandsgeregeltes Handeln). It 
is only in the cases of the action of the administrative staff itself and of 
that deliberately directed by it that the term "organized action" (Ver- 
bandskandeln) will be used. Examples of such action would be partici- 
pation in any capacity in a war fought by a state, or a motion which is 
passed by the members at the behest of its executive committee, or a 
contract entered into by the person in authority, the validity of which is 
imposed ,m all members and for which they are held responsible (cf. 
section 11). Further, all administration of justice and administrative 
procedure belongs in this category (cf. section 14). 

An organization may He (a) autonomous or heteronomous, (b) auto- 
sphiilous cr heterocephalous. Autonomy means that the order governing 



J O BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ch, I 

the organization has been established by its own members on their own 
authority, regardless of how this has taken place in other respects. In the 
case of heteronomy, it has been imposed by an outside agency. Auto- 
cephaly means that the chief and his staff are selected according to the 
autonomous order of the organization itself, not, as in the case of hetero- 
cephaly, that they are appointed by outsiders. Again, this is regardless 
of any other aspects of the relationship. 

A case of heterocephaly is the appointment of the governors of the 
Canadian provinces by the central government of the Dominion. It is 
possible for a heterocephalous group to be autonomous and an auto- 
cephalous group to be heteronomous. It is also possible in both respects 
for an organization to have both characters at the same time in different ' 
spheres. The member-states of the German Empire, a federal state, were 
autocephalous. But in spite of this, within the sphere of authority of the 
Reich, they were heteronomous; whereas, within their own sphere, in 
such matters as religion and education, they were autonomous. Alsace- 
Lorraine was, under German jurisdiction, in a limited degree autono- 
mous, but at the same time heterocephalous in that the governor was 
appointed by the Kaiser. All those elements may be present in the same 
situation to some degree. An organization which is at the same time 
completely heteronomous and completely heterocephalous is usually 
best treated as a "part" of the more extensive group, as would ordinarily 
be done with a "regiment" as part of an army. But whether this is the 
case depends on the actual extent of independence in the orientation 
of action in the particular case. For terminological purposes, it is entirely 
a question of convenience. 



1 3 , Consensual and Imposed Order in Organizations 

An association's enacted order may be established in one of two ways: 
by voluntary agreement, or by being imposed and acquiesced in. The 
leadership in an organization may claim a legitimate right to impose new 
rules. The "constitution" of an organization is the empirically existing 
porbability, varying in extent, kind and conditions, that rules imposed 
by the leadership will be acceded to. The existing rules may specify that 
certain groups or sections of the members must consent, or at least have 
been heard. Besides this, there may be any number of other conditions. 

An organization's order may be imposed not only on its members hut 
also on certain non-members. This is especially true of persons who are 
linked to a given territorial area by virtue of residence, birth, or the per- 
formance of certain actions. In this case the order possesses "territorial 
validity" (Gebietsgeltung). An organization which imposes its order in 
principle on a territory will be called a "territorial organization" (Gebiets- 



13 ] Consensual and Imposed Order in Organizations 5 1 

verband). This usage will be employed regardless of how fat the claim 
to the validity of its order over its own members is also confined to 
matters pertaining to the area. (Such a limitation is possible 28 and indeed 
occurs to some extent.) 

1. In our terminology, an order is always "imposed" to the extent 
that it does not originate fromta voluntary personal agreement of all the 
individuals concerned. The concept of imposition hence includes "ma- 
jority rule," in that the minority must submit. For that reason there 
have been long periods when the legitimacy of majority rule has either 
not been recognized at all, or been held doubtful. This was true in the 
case of the Estates of the Middle Ages, and in very recent times, in 
the Russian obshchina. (This will he further discussed in the Sociology 
of Law and of Domination.) 

2. Even in cases where there is formally voluntary agreement, it is 
very common, as is generally known, for .there to be a large measure of 
imposition. (This is true of the obshchina.') In that case, it is he actual 
state of affairs which is decisive for sociological purposes. 

3. The concept of constitution made use of here is that also used by 
Lassalle. It is not the same as what is meant by a "written" constitution, 
or indeed by "constitution" in any sort of legal meaning. 29 The only 
relevant question for sociological purposes is when, for what purposes, 
and within what limits, or possibly under what special conditions (such 
as the approval of gods or priests or the consent of electors), the mem- 
bers of the organization will submit to the leadership. Furthermore, 
under what circumstances the administrative staff and the organized 
actions of the group will be at the leadership's disposal when it issues 
orders, in particular, new rules. 

4. The major cases of the territorial imposition of an order are 
criminal law and various other legal rules the applicability of which 
depends on whether the actor was resident, born, performed or com- 
pleted the action within the area controlled by a political organization. 
(Compare the concept of the "territorial corporate organization" — 
Gebietskorpersckaft — as used by Gierke and Preuss.) 30 



1 4 . Administrative and Regulative Order 

Rules which govern organized action constitute an administrative 
order (Verwaltungsordnung). Rules which govern other kinds of social 
action and thereby protect the actors' enjoyment of the resulting benefits 
will be called a regulative order (.Regulierungsordnung). So far as an 
organization is solely oriented to the first type, it will be called an ad- 
ministrative organization; so far as it is oriented to the second type, a 
regulative organization. 



5 1 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ck. I 

i. It goes without saying that the majority of actual organizations 
partake of both characteristics. An example of a merely regulative or- 
ganization would be a theoretically conceivable state based purely on 
the upholding of public order (Rechtsstaat) and committed to absolute 
laissez-faire. (This would imply that even the control of the monetary 
system was left to private enterprise.) 

2. On the concept of organized action see above, sec. 12:3, Under 
the concept of administrative order would be included, all the rules 
which govern not only the action of the administrative'staff, but also 
that of the members in their direct relation to the organization; hence 
these rules pertain to those goals the pursuit of which the administrative 
order seeks to facilitate through prescribed and coordinated action on 
the part of the administrative staff and the members. In a completely 
communist economy almost all social action would be of this character. 
In an absolute laissez-faire state (Rechtsstaai) only the functions of 
judges, police authorities, jurors and soldiers, and activity as legislator 
and voter would be included. The distinction between administrative 
and regulative order coincides in its broad lines, though not always in 
detail, with the distinction between public and private law. (AH further 
details are treated in the Sociology of Law.) 



15. Enterprise, Formal Organization, Voluntary and 
Compulsory Association 

Continuous rational activity of a specified kind will be called an 
enter-prise; an association with a continuously and rationally operating 
staff will be called a formal organization. 

An organization which claims authority only over voluntary members 
will be called a voluntary association (Verein); an organization which 
imposes, within a specifiable sphere of operations, its order (with relative 
success) on all action conforming with certain criteria will be called a 
compulsory organization or association QAnstalt). 

1. The concept of the enterprise covers business conducted by 
political and ecclesiastic organizations as well as by voluntary associa- 
tions insofar as it has rational continuity. 

2. Voluntary as well as compulsory associations are organizations 
with rationally established rules. More correctly, insofar as an organiza- 
tion has rational)- established rules, it is either a voluntary or a com- 
pulsory association. Compulsory organizations are, above all, the state 
with its subsidiary heterocephalous organizations, and the church insofar 
as its order is rationally established. The order governing a compulsory 
association claims to be binding on all persons to whom the particular 
relevant criteria apply — such as birth, residence, or the use of certain 
facilities. It makes no difference whether the individual joined volun- 



15 ] _ Enterprise, Formal Organization, Association 5 3 

tarily; nor does it matter whether he has taken any part in establishing 
the order. It is thus a case of imposed order in the most definite sense. 
Compulsory associations are frequently territorial organizations. 

3. The distinction between voluntary and compulsory associations is 
relative in its empirical application. The rules of a voluntary association 
may affect the interests of non-members, and recognition of the validity 
of these rules may be imposed upon them by usurpation and the exer- 
cize of naked power, but also by legal regulation, as in the case of the 
law governing corporate securities. 

4. It is hardly necessary to emphasize that the concepts of voluntary 
and compulsory associations are by no means exhaustive of all conceiv- 
able types of organizations. Furthermore, they are to be thought of as 
polar types, as are sect and church in the religious sphere. 



1 6 . Power and Domination 

A. "Power" (Macfet) is the probability that one actor within a social 
relationship will be in a position to carry out his own will despite resist- 
ance, regardless of the basis on which this probability rests. 

B. "Domination" (Herrscfcaft)" is the probability that a command 
with a given specific content will be obeyed by a given group of persons. 
"Discipline" is the probability that by virtue of habituation a command 
will receive prompt and automatic obedience in stereotyped Forms, on 
the part of a given group of persons." 

1. The concept of power is sociologically amorphous. All conceiv- 
able qualities of a person and all conceivable combinations of circum- 
stances may put him in a position to impose his will in a given situa- 
tion. The sociological concept of domination must hence be more precise 
and can only mean the probability that a command will be obeyed. 

2, The concept of discipline includes the habituation characteristic 
of uncritical and unresisting mass obedience. 

C. The existence of domination turns only on the actual presence 
of one person successfully issuing orders to others; it does not necessarily 
imply either the existence of an administrative staff or, for that matter, 
of an organization. It is, however, uncommon to find it unrelated to at 
least one of these. A "ruling organization" (Herrschaftsverband') exists 
insofar as its members are subject "to domination by virtue of the estab- 
lished order. 

1. The* head of a household rules without an administrative staff. A 
Bedouin chief, who levies contributions from the caravans, persons and 
shipments which pass his stronghold, controls this group of changing 
individuals, who do not belong to the same organization, as soon and as 



5 4 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ck. I 

long as they face the same situation; but to do this, he needs a follow- 
ing which, on the appropriate occasions, serves as his administrative staff 
in exercising the necessary compulsion. (However, it is theoretically 
conceivable that th'S type of control is exercised by a single individual.) 
2. If it possesses an administrative staff, an organization is always to 
some degree based on domination. But the concept is relative. In gen- 
eral, an effectively ruling organization is also an administrative one. The 
character of the organization is determined by a variety of factors: the 
mode in which tli^ administration is carried out, the character of the 
personnel, the objects over which it exercises control, and the extent of 
effective jurisdiction. The first two factors in particular are dependent in 
the highest degree on the way in which domination is legitimized (see 
ch. III). 



ly. Political and Hierocratic Organizations 

A "ruling organization" will be called "political" insofar as its exist* 
ence and order is continuously safeguarded within a given territorial area 
by the threat and application of physical force on the part of the adminis- 
trative staff. A compulsory political organization with continuous opera- 
tions (politischer Anstaltsbetrieb') will be called a "state" insofar as its 
administrative staff successfully upholds the claim to the monopoly of 
the legitimate use of physical force in the enforcement of its order. Social 
action, especially organized action, will be spoken of as "politically 
oriented" if it aims at exerting influence on the government of a political 
organization; especially at the appropriation, expropriation, redistribution 
or allocation of the powers of government. 

A "hierocratic organization" is an organization which enforces its 
order through psychic coercion by distributing or denying religious 
benefits ("hierocratic coercion"). A compulsory hierocratic organization 
will be called a "church" insofar as its administrative staff claims a 
monopoly of the legitimate use of hierocratic coercion. 

i. It goes without saying that the use of physical force CGewaltsam- 
fceit) is neither the sole, nor even the most usual, method of administra- 
tion of political organizations. On the contrary, their heads have em- 
ployed all conceivable means to bring about their ends. But, at the same 
time, the threat of force, and in the case of need its actual use, is the 
method which is specific to political organizations and is always the last 
resort when others have failed. Conversely, physical force is by no means 
limited to political groups even as a legitimate method of enforcement. 
It has been freely used by kinship groups, household groups, consocia- 
tions and, in the Middle Ages, under certain circumstances by all those 
entitled to bear arms. In addition to the fact that it uses, among other 



ij ] Political and Hierocratic Organizations 5 5 

means, physical force to enforce its system of order, the political organiza- 
tion is further characterized by the fact that the authority of its adminis- 
trative staff is claimed as binding within a territorial area and this claim 
is upheld by force. Whenever organizations which make use of force 
are also characterized by the claim to territorial jurisdiction, such as 
village communities or even some household groups, federations of 
guilds or of workers' associations ("soviets"), they are by definition to 
that extent political organizations. 

2. It is not possible to define a political organization, including the 
state, in terms of the end to which its action is devoted. All the way 
from provision for subsistence to the patronage of art, there is no con- 
ceivable end which some political association has not at some time pur- 
sued. And from the protection of personal security to the administration 
of justice, there is none which all have recognized. Thus it is possible 
to define the "political" character of an organization only in terms of the 
means peculiar to it, the use of force. This means is, however, in the 
above sense specific, and is indispensable to its character. It is even, 
under certain circumstances, elevated into an end in itself. 

This usage does not Exactly conform to everyday speech. But the lat- 
* ter is too inconsistent to be used for technical purposes. We speak of the 
foreign currency policy" of a central bank, the financial policy of an 
association, or the educational ■policy of a local authority, and mean the 
systematic treatment and conduct of particular affairs. It comes consid- 
erably closer to the present meaning when we distinguish the "political" 
aspect or implication of a question. Thus there is the "political" official, 
the "political" newspaper, the "political" revolution, the "political" 
club, the "political" party, and the "political" consequences of an 
action, as distinguished from others such as the economic, cultural, or 
religious aspect of the persons, affairs or processes in question. In this 
usage we generally mean by "political," things that have to do with 
relations of authority within what is, in the present terminology, a 
political organization, the state. The reference is to things which are 
likelyto uphold, to change or overthrow, to hinder or promote, these 
authority relations as distinguished from persons, things, and processes 
which have nothing to do with it. This usage thus seeks to bring out 
the common features of domination, the way it is exercised by the state, 
irrespective of the ends involved. Hence it is legitimate to claim that the 
definition put forward here is only a more precise formulation of what 
is meant in everyday usage in that it gives sharp emphasis to what is 
most characteristic of this -means: the actual or threatened use of force. 
It is, of course, true that everyday usage applies the term "political," 
not only to groups which are the direct agents of the legitimate use of 
force itself, but also to other, often wholly peaceful groups, which at- 
tempt to influence the activities of the political organization. It seems 
best for present purposes to distinguish this type of social action, "politi- 
cally oriented" action, from political action as such, the actual organized 
action of political groups. 



5 6 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ch. 1 

3. Since the concept of the state has only in modern times reached 
its full development, it is best to define it in terms appropriate to the 
modern type of state, but at the same time, in terms which abstract from 
the values of the present day, since these are particularly subject to 
change. The primary formal characteristics of the modern state are as 
follows: It possesses an administrative and legal order subject to change 
by legislation, to which the organized activities of the administrative 
staff, which are also controlled by regulations, are oriented. This sys- 
tem of order claims binding authority, not only over the members of 
the state, the citizens, most of whom have obtained membership by 
birth, but also to a very large extent over all action taking place in the 
area of its jurisdiction. It is thus a compulsory organization with a ter- 
ritorial basis. Furthermore, today, the use of force is regarded as legiti- 
mate only so far as it is either permitted by the state or prescribed by it. 
Thus the right of a father t<? discipline his children is recognized — a 
survival of the former independent authority of the head of a household, 
which in the right to use force has sometimes extended to a power of 
life and death over children and slaves. The clsim of the modern state 
to monopolize the use of force is as essential to it as its character of 
compulsory jurisdiction and of continuous operation, 

4. In formulating the concept of a hierocratic organization, it is not 
possible to use the character of the religious benefits it offers, whether 
worldly or other-worldly, material or spiritual, as the decisive criterion. 
What is important is rather the fact that its control over these values can 
form the basis of a system of spiritual domination over human beings. 
What is most characteristic of the church, even in the common usage 
of the term, is the fact that it is a rational, compulsory association with 
continuous operation and that it claims a monopolistic authority. It is 
normal for a church to strive for complete control on a territorial basis 
and to attempt to set up the corresponding territorial or parochial or- 
ganization. So far as this takes place, the means by which this claim to 
monopoly is upheld will vary From case to case. But historically, its 
control over territorial areas has not been nearly so essential to the 
church as to political associations; and this is particularly true today. It 
is its character as a compulsory association, particularly the fact that one 
beomes a member of the church by birth, which distinguishes the 
church from a "sect." It is characteristic of the latter that it is a volun- 
tary association and admits onlv persons with specific religious qualifi- 
cations. (This subject will be further discussed in the Sociology of Reli- 
gion.) 



NOTES 

Unless otherwise noted, all notes in this chapter are by Talcott Parsons. 
For Parsons' exposition and critique of Weber's methodology, see his introduction 
to The Theory of Social and Economic Organization and his Structure of Social 
Action. 



Notes 5 7 

i. "Uber einige Kategoiien der verstehenden Soziologie," originally in 
Logos, IV, 1 91 3, 253ft; reprinted in GAzW, 427-74. However, the reader should 
be aware from the very beginning that Part Two below, the older and major body of 
the manuscript, follows the terminology of this essay. For some of the relevant ter- 
minology, see Appendix I. CR) 

2. It has not seemed advisable to attempt a rigorous use of a single English 
term whenever Weber employs Verstehen. "Understanding" has been most com- 
monly used. Other expressions such as "subjectively understandable," "interpreta- 
tion in subjective terms," "comprehension," etc., have been used from time to 
time as the context seemed to demand. 

3. In this series of definitions Weber employs several important terms which 
need discussion. In addition to Verstehen, which has already been commented 
upon, there ore four important ones: Dettten, Sinn, Handeln, and Verhalten. 
Deuten has generally been translated as "interpret." As used by Weber in this 
context it refers to the interpretation of subjective states of mind and the meanings 
which can be imputed as intended by an actor. Any other meaning of the word 
"interpretation" is irrelevant to Weber's discussion. The term Sinn has generally 
been translated as "meaning"; and its variations, particularly the corresponding 
adjectives, sinnhaft, sinnvoll, smnfremd, have been dealt with by appropriately 
modifying the term meaning. The reference here again is always to features of 
the content of subjective states of mind or of symbolic systems which are ulti- 
mately referable to such states of mind. 

The terms Handeln and Verhalten are directly related. Verhalten is the 
broader term referring to any mode of behavior of human individuals, regardless 
of the frame of reference in terms of which it is analysed. "Behavior" has seemed 
to be the most appropriate English equivalent. Handeln, on the other hand refers 
to the concrete phenomenon of human behavior only insofar as it is capable of 
"understanding." in Weber's technical sense, in terms of subjective categories. 
The most appropriate English equivalent has seemed to he "action." This corre- 
sponds to [Parsons'] usage in The Structure of Social Action and would seem 
to be fairly well established. "Conduct" is also similar and has sometimes been 
used. Deuten, Verstehen, and Sinn are thus applicable to human behavior only 
insofar as it constitutes action or conduct in this specific sense. 

4. Weber's text in Part One is organized in a manner frequently found in the 
German academic literature of his day, in that he first lays down certain funda- 
mental definitions and then proceeds to comment on them. These comments, which 
apparently were not intended to be "read" in the ordinary sense, but rather serve 
as reference material for the clarification and systematization of the theoretical 
concepts and their implications, are in the German edition printed in a smaller 
type; a convention which we have followed in the rest of Part One. However, while 
in most cases the comments are relatively brief, under the definitions of "sociology" 
and "social action" Weber wrote what are essentially methodological essays (sec. 
1 :a-b), which because of their length we have printed in the ordinary type. (R) 

5. Weber means by "pure type" what he himself generally called and what 
has come to be known in the literature about his methodology as the "ideal type." 
The reader may be referred for general orientation to Weber's own essay (to 
which he himself refers below), "Die 'Objektivitat* soziahvissenschaftlicher Er- 
kenntnis" (" 'Objectivity' in Social Science and Social Policy," in Max Weber: 
The Methodology of the Social Sciences. Edward Shils and Henry Finch, trans, 
and eds. (Glencoe: The Free Press, 1949), 50-113; originally published in 
AfS, vol. 19, 1904, reprinted in GAzW, 146-214); to two works of Alexander von 
Schelting, "Die logische Theorie der historischen Kultunvissenschaften von Max 



5 8 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ck. I 

Weber," AfS, vol. 49, 1922, 623s and Max Webers Wissenschaftslehre, 1934; 
Talcott Parsons, The Structure of Social Action (New York: McGraw-Hill, 
i937)r ch. 16; Theodore Abel, Systematic Sociology in Germany, (New York: 
Columbia University Press, 1929). [See now also Raymond Aron, German Soci- 
ology, trans, by M. and T. Bottomore (New York: The Free Press of Glencoe, 
1964), based on 2nd French ed. of 1950.] 

6. This is an imperfect rendering of the German term Evidenz, for which, 
unfortunately, there is no good English equivalent. It has hence been rendered in 
a number of different ways, varying with the particular context in which it 
occurs. The primary meaning refers to the basis on which a scientist or thinker 
becomes satisfied of the certainty or acceptability o£ a proposition. As Weber him- 
self points out, there are two primary aspects of this. On the one hand a conclu- 
sion can be "seen" to follow from given premises by virtue of logical, mathemat- 
ical, or possibly other modes of meaningful relation. In this sense one "sees" the 
solution of an arithmetical problem or the correctness of the proof of a geometrical 
theorem. The other aspect is concerned with empirical observation. If an act of 
observation is competently performed, in a similar sense one "sees" the truth of 
the relevant descriptive proposition. The term Evidenz does not refer to the process 
of observing, but to the quality of its result, by virtue of which the observer feels 
justified in affirming a given statement. Hence "certainty" has seemed a suitable 
translation in some contexts, "clarity" in others, "accuracy" in still others. The 
term "intuition" is not usable because it refers to the process rather than to he 
result. 

7. Weber here uses the term aktuelles Verstehen, which he contrasts with 
erklarendes Verstehen. The latter he also refers to as motivationsmdssig. "Aktu- 
ell" in this context has been translated as "observational." It is clear from Weber's 
discussion that the primary criterion is the possibility of deriving the meaning of 
an act or symbolic expression from immediate observation without reference to any 
broader context. In erklarendes Verstehen, on the other hand, the particular act 
must be placed in a broader context of meaning involving facts which cannot be 
derived from immediate observation of a particular act or expression. , 

8. The German term is Sinnzusammenhang. It refers to aplurality of ele- 
ments which form a coherent whole on the level of meaning. There are several 
possible modes of meaningful relation between such elements, such as logical con- 
sistency, the esthetic harmony of a style, or the appropriateness of means to an 
end. In any case, however, a Sinnzusammenhang must fc» distinguished from a 
system of elements which are causally interdependent. There seems to be no sin- 
gle English term or phrase which is always adequate. According to variations in 
context, "context of meaning," "complex of meaning," and sometimes "meaning- 
ful system" have been employed. 

9. The German is gemcinter Sinn. Weber departs from ordinary usage not 
only in broadening the meaning of this conception. As he states at the end of the 
present methodological discussion, he does not restrict the use of this concept to 
cases where a clear self-conscious awareness of such meaning can be reasonably 
attributed to every individual actor. Essentially, what Weber is doing is to formu- 
late an operational concept. The question is not whether in a sense obvious to the 
ordinary person such an intended meaning "really exists," but whether the con- 
cept is capable of providing a logical framework within which scientifically impor- 
tant observations can be made. The test of validity of the observations is not 
whether their object is immediately clear to common sense, but whether the results 
of these technical observations can be satisfactorily organized and related to those 
of others in a systematic body of knowledge. 



Notes 5 9 

io. The above pa Mage is an exceedingly compact statement of Weber's theory 
of the logical condition* of proof of causal relationship. He developed this most 
fully in bis ewy on " 'Objectivity' in Social Science . . . ," op. tit. It is also dis- 
cussed in Other p*rt* of GAzW. The best and fullest secondary discussion is to 
be found in Scbelting'* book. Max Wehers Wissenschaftsiehre. There is a briefer 
discussion in Parsons Structure of Social Action, cb. 16. 

ii. See Eduard Meyer, Geschichte des Altertums, i<- si, vol. Ill, 420, 444fF, 
and Weber's essay on "Critical Studies in the Logic of the Cultural Sciences," in 
Shils and Finch, eds., op. tit., 1 1 3-188; also in GAzW, 21 5-90. (R) 

1 2. The expression sinnhafte AdSquanz is one of the most difficult of Weber's 
technical terms to translate. In most places the cumbrous phrase "adequacy on the 
level of meaning" has had to be employed. It should be clear from the progress of 
the discussion that what Weber refers to is a satisfying level of knowledge for the 

Particular purposes of the subjective state of mind of the actor or actors. He is, 
owever, careful to point out that causal adequacy involves in addition to this a 
satisfactory correspondence between the results of observations from the subjec- 
tive point of view and from the objective; that is, observations of the overt course 
of action which can be described without reference to the state of mind of the 
actor. For a discussion of the methodological problem involved here, see Structure 
of Social Action, chaps. II and V. 

r3. This is the first occurrence in Weber's text of the term Chance which he 
uses very frequently. It is here translated by "probability," because he uses it as 
interchangeable with Wahrschein1ichke.it. As the term "probability" is used in a 
technical mathematical and statistical sense, however, it implies the possibility of 
numerical statement. In most of the cases where Weber uses Chance this is out of 
the question. It is, however, possible to speak in terms of higher and lower de- 
grees of probability. To avoid confusion with the technical mathematical concept, 
the term "likelihood" will often be used in the translation. It is by means of this 
concept that Weber, in a biddy ingenious way, has bridged the gap between the 
interpretation of meaning and the inevitably more complex facts of overt action. 

14. The term "reincation" as used by Professor Morris Cohen in his book, 
Reason and Nature, seems to fit Weber's meaning exactly. A concept or system of 
concepts, which critical analysis can show to be abstract, is "reified" when it is 
used naively as though it provided an adequate total description of the concrete 
phenomenon in question. The fallacy of ' reification" is virtually another name 
tor what Professor Whitehead has called "the fallacy of misplaced concreteness.'' 
See his Science and the Modern World. 

15. See August Weismann, Die AUmacht der Naturzuchtung (Jena: Fischer, 
1893); his opponent was probably Alexander Gotte 0840-1922), author of 
Lekrbuch der Zoologie (Leipzig: Engelmann, 1902) and of Tierkunde (Stras- 
bourg: Trttbner, 1904). (R) 

16. In the above classification as well as in some of those which follow, 
the terminology is not standardized either in German or in English. Hence, 
just as there is a certain arbitrariness in Weber's definitions, the same is true of 
any corresponding set of definitions in English. It should be kept in mind that 
all of them are modes of orientation of action to patterns which contain a 
normative element. "Usage" has seemed to be the most appropriate translation 
of Branch since, according to Weber's own definition, the principal criterion is 
that "it is done to conform with the pattern." There would also seem to be 
good precedent for the translation of Sitte by "custom." The contrast with 
fashion, which Weber takes up in his first comment, is essentially the same in 
both languages. The term Interessenlage presents greater difficulty. It involves 



6 O BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS { Ch. 1 

two components: the motivation in terms of self-interest and orientation to the 
opportunities presented by the situation. It has not seemed possible to use any 
single term to convey this meaning in English and hence, a more roundabout 
expression has had to be resorted to. 

17. The term "convention" in Weber's usage is narrower than Branch. The 
difference consists in the fact that a normative pattern to which action is 
oriented is conventional only insofar as it is regarded as part of a legitimate 
order, whereas the question of moral obligation to conformity which legitimacy 
implies is not involved in "usage." The distinction is closely related to that of 
W. G. Sumner between "mores" and "folkways." It has seemed best to retain 
the English term closest to Weber's own. 

18. It is, in a sense, the empirical reference of this statement which consti- 
tutes the central theme of Weber's series of studies in the Sociology of Religion. 
Insofar as he finds it possible to attribute importance to "ideas" in the determina- - 
tion of action, the most important differences between systems of ideas are not 
so much those in the degree of ration a iiza tion as in the direction which the 
process of rationalization in each case has taken. This series of studies was left 
uncompleted at his death, but all the material which was in a condition fit for 
publication has been assembled in the three volumes of the Gesammelte 
Aufsatze zur Religionssoziologie CGAzRS}. 

19. It has'not been possible to identify this reference of Weber's. It refers 
most probably to a projected conclusion which was never written, 

20. The reader may readily become confused as to the basis of the following 
classification, as compared with that presented in sec. 7. The first classification 
is one of motives for maintaining a legitimate order in force, whereas the second 
is one of motives for attributing legitimacy to the order. This explains the in- 
clusion of self-interested motives in the 6rst classification, but not in the second. 
It is quite possible, for instance, for irreligious persons to support the doctrine 
of the divine right of kings, because they fee! that the breakdown of an order 
which depends on this would have undesirable consequences. This is not, how- 
ever, a possible motive on which to base a direct" sense of pcisona! mora! obliga- 
tion to conform with the order. < 

21. Rheinstein's emendation, see his edition, op. cii., 7. (R) 

22. In 1745, Maurice de Saxc defeated the British under the Duke of 
Cumberland even though he sustained heavy losses in the one-sided opening 
round, (R) 

23. A cautionary note is in order here: The definitions of conflict or struggle 
(K<wnpf) and of power (section 16) have often been wrenched out of context 
in discussions of Weber as a "power politician." The present section, however, 
defines the varieties of con flic t, from the extreme case of violent, unlimited 3nd 
unregulated struggle to peaceful and regulated competition. In fact, mere con- 
flict and power are not Weber's major concern, which is rather with variously 
regulated and legitimated actions and their group context. (R) 

24. As Weber goes- on to explain, he uses Vergemeinschaftung and Ver«c- 
selhchaftung in 3 continuous rather than a dichotomous sense, and thus main- 
tains his critical distance from Tonnies' paired contrast of Gemeinschuft and 
Geselhchaft. Similarly, Weber rejected Gierke's invidious contrast between 
"cold-blooded" Roman law and "communal" Germanic law, even though he 
started his career as a Germanist rather than a Romanist (R) 

25. This is a reference to the Betriehsrcite which were formed in German 
industrial plants during the Revolution of 1918-19 and were recognized in the 
Weimar Constitution as entitled to representation in the Federal Economic 



Notes 6 i 

Council. The standard work in English is W. C. Guillebaud, The Works 
Council. A German Experiment in Industrial Democracy (Cambridge University 
Press, 1928), 

26. Weber's term here is Nahrungsspielraum. The concept refets to the 
scope of economic resources and opportunities on which the standard of living 
of an individual or a group is dependent.. By contrast with this, Erwerbxfielrttum 
is a similar scope of resources and economic opportunities seen from the point 
of view of their possible role as sources of profit. The basic distinction implied in 
this contrast is of central importance to Weber's analysis later on (see chapter 
II, sec. 1 off.). 

27. The term "corporate group" for Verband, as used by Parsons, is. open 
to misunderstandings on both the common-sense and the historical level since 
Weber's term includes more than cither economic groups or self-governing, often 
professional bodies. Parsons' alternative term, "organized group," has been re- 
tained. The term "organization" should be understood literally in the sense of a 
group with an "organ," but not necessarily of a rationalized kind* the latter would 
make it an "enterprise" or a "formal organization" (see sec. 15). — For Weber's 
older definition of Verband and Verbandshandeln see Appendix I. (R) 

28. The concept "objective possibility" (ofc/eJttive Moglichkeit) plays an 
important technical role in Weber's methodological studies. According to bis 
usage, a thing is "objectively possible" if it "makes sense" to conceive it as an 
empirically existing entity. It is a question of conforming with the formal, 
logical conditions. The question whether a phenomenon which is in this sense 
"objectively possible" will actually be found with any significant degree of 
probability or approximation, is a logically distinct question. 

29. See Ferdinand I.assallc, "Ober Verfassungswesen" (1862), in Gesam- 
melte Beden und Schriften, Eduard Bernstein, ed. (Berlin: Cassirer, 19:9), 7-62. 

00 

30. See Otto Gierke, Geschichte des deutschen Korperschaftsbegriffs (Berlin-. 
Weidmann, 1873), 829; Hugo Preuss, Gemeinde, Staat, Reich ah Gcbii tshorper- 
schaft (1889). Preuss, one of Gierke's pupils, exerted decisive influence on the 
making of the Weimar constitution, to which Weber also contributed at about 
the same time that he worked intermittently on these definitions. ( W and R) 

. 31. In his translation Parsons pointed out that "the term Herrschaft has no 
satisfactory English equivalent. The term "imperative control," however, as used 
by N. S. Timashcff in his Introduction to the Sociology of Law is close to 
Weber's meaning" (Parsons, ed., of. cit., 152). Therefore, he borrowed 1 this term 
"for the most general purposes." At a later time. Parsons indicated that he now 
preferred the term "leadership," For more specific purposes, however, he used the 
, term "authority." In objecting to "domination" (as used by Bendix and Rhein- 
stein/Shils) Parsons noted: "It is true to be sure that the term Herrschaft, which 
in its most general meaning I should now translate as "leadership," implies that 
a leader has power over his followers. But "domination" suggests that this fact, 
rather than the integration of the collectivity, in the interest of effective func- 
tioning (especially the integration of the crucial Verband or corporate group), is 
the critical factor from Weber's point of view. I do not believe that the former 
interpretation represents the main trend of Weber's thought, although he wis in 
certain respects a "realist" m the analysis of power. The preferable inttrpietation, 
as I see it, is represented especially by his tremendous emphasis on the importance 
of legitimation. I should therefore wish to stick to my own decision to translate 
legitime Herrschaft, which for Weber was overwhelmingly the most significant 
case for general structural analysis, as authority.'" . Si'C T Parsons' review article 



6 2 BASIC SOCIOLOGICAL TERMS [ Ch. I 

of Reinhard Bendix, Max Weben An baeP^ctttci Portrait, in American Soda- 
logical "Review, 15:5, i960, 752.) 

I prefer the term domination in this section because Weber stresses die fact 
of mem compliance with a command, which may be due to habit, a belief in 
legitimacy, or to considerations of expediency. However, Weber emphasizes here 
as later that, in addition to the willingness of subjects to comply with a command, 
there is usually a staff, which again may act on the basis or habit, legitimacy or 
self-interest. Sociologically, a Herrschaft is a structure of superordination and 
subordination, of leaders and led, rulers and ruled; it is based on a variety of 
motives and of means of enforcement. In ch. Ill, Weber presents a typology of 
legitimate Hemchaft where the term "authority" is indeed feasible. However, in 
ch. X, he deals extensively with both faces of Herrschaft- legitimacy and force. It 
should he clear to the reader that both "domination'' and "authority" are "cor- 
rect'* although each stresses a different component of Hemcfutft Moreover, in 
Part Two a HetTscJwft is quite specifically the medieval setgnewie or manor or simi- 
lar structures in patrimonial regimes. This is also the historical derivation of the 
term. For a major, and sociologically valuable, study see Otto Brunnej, Land und 
Herrsckaft: Grundfragen der temUmalen Verfassvngsgnckichu Ottmreichs hn 
MitteUdier (Vienna, 1950). (R) .' ■' 

31. For the earlier discussion of discipline, see Part Two, ch. XrV:«ii:i, "The 
Meaningof Discipline." / 

33. The German is DevisenpoUtik, Translation in this context is made more 
difficult by the fact that the German language does not distinguish between 
"politics" and "policy," Politik having both meanings. The remarks which Weber 
makes about various kinds of policy would have been unnecessary, had he written 
originally in English. . 



CHAPTER XI 

SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES 
OF ECONOMIC ACTION 



Prefatory Note 

' What foBoWtis not intended in any sense to be "economic theory." 
Rather, it consistt&nly in an attempt to define certain concepts which 
are frequently used and to analyze certain of the simplest sociological 
relationships in the economic sphere. As in the first chapter, the procedure 
here has-been determined entirely by consideratkMB of convenience. It 
has proved possible entirely to avoid the controversial concept of "value." 1 
The usage here, in the relevant sections on the division of labor [see sec. 
isff.], has deviated from the tctminclogy of Karl Bucher only so far as 
seemed necessary for the purposes of me present undertaking. For the 
present all questions of dynamic process will be left out of account. 

r. The Concept of Economic* Action 

Action will be said to be "economicaHy oriented" so far as, according 
to its subjective meaning, it is concerned with the satisfaction of a desire 
, for "utilities" (JNutdetsttmgen), "Economic action" QVirtschaften) is 
any peaceful exercise of an. actor's control over resources which is in its 
main impulse oriented towards economic ends. "Rational economic ac- 
tion" requires instrumental rationality in this orientation, that is, deliber- 
ate planning. We will call autocephalous economic action an "economy" 
(Wirtschaft), and an organized system of continuous economic action 
an "economic establishment" ( Wirtschaftsbetrieb^. 

i. It was pointed out above (ch. I, sec. i:b) that economic ac- 
tion as such need not be social action. 

[6 3 1 



64 SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION [Ch. II 

Xy The definition of economic action must be as general as possible 
and must bring out the fact that a! I "economic" processes and objects are 
characterized as such entirely by the meaning they have for human ac- 
tion in such roles as ends, means, obstacles, and by-products. It is not, 
however, permissible to express this by saying, as is sometimes done, that 
economic action is a "psychic" phenomenon. The production of goods, 
prices, or even the "subjective valuation" of goods, if they are empirical 
processes, are far from being merely psychic phenomena. But underlying 
this misleading phrase is a correct insight. It is a fact that these phenom- 
ena have a peculiar type of subjective meaning. This alone defines the 
unity of the corresponding processes, and this alone makes them accessi- 
ble to subjective interpretation. 

The definition of "economic action" must, furthermore, be formu- 
lated in such a way as to include the operation of a modem business en- 
terprise fun for profit. Hence the definition cannot be based directly on 
"consumption needs" and the "satisfaction" of these needs, but must, 
rather, start out on the one hand from the fact that there is a desire (de- 
mand) for utilities (which is true even in the case of orientation to 
purely monetary gains), and on the other hand from the fact that •pro- 
vision is being made to furnish the supplies to meet this demand (which 
is true even in the most primitive economy merely "satisfying needs," 
and regardless of how primitive and frozen in tradition the methods of 
this provision are). 

3. As distinguished from "economic action" as such, the term "eco- 
nomically oriented action" will be applied to two types: (a) every action 
which, though primarily oriented to other ends, takes account, in the 
pursuit of them, of economic considerations; that is, of the consciously 
recognized necessity for economic prudence. Or (b) that which, though 
primarily oriented to economic ends, makes use of physical force as a^ 
means. It thus includes all primarily non-economic action and all non- 
peaceful action which is influenced by economic considerations. "Eco- 
nomic action", thus is a conscious, primary orientation to economic con- 
siderations. It must he conscious, for what matters is not the objective 
necessity of making economic provision, but the belief that is is neces- 
sary. Robert Liefmann has rightly laid emphasis on the subjective un- 
derstandable orientation of action which makes it economic action. He 
is not, however, correct in attributing the contrary view to al! other au- 
thors. 2 

4. Every type of action, including the use of violence, may he eco- 
nomically oriented. This is true, for instance, of war-h'ke action, such as 
marauding expeditions and trade wars. Franz Oppenheimer, in particu- 
lar, has rightly distinguished "economic" means from "political" means. 3 
It is essential to distinguish the latter from economic action. The use of 
force is unquestionablv very strongly opposed to the spirit of economic ac- 
quisition in the usual sense. Hence the term "economic action" will not 
be applied to the direct appropriation of goods by force and the direct 
coercion of the other party by threats of force. It goes without saying, at 



i ] _ The Concept of Economic Action 6 5 

the same time, that exchange is not the only economic means, though it 
is one of the most important. Furthermore, the formally peaceful provi- 
sion for the means and the success of a projected exercise of force, as in 
the case of armament production and economic organization for war, is 
just as much economic action as any other. 

Every rational course of political action is economically oriented with 
respect to provision for the necessary means, and it is always possible for 
political action to serve the interest of economic ends. Similarly, though 
it is not necessarily true of every economic system, certainly the modem 
economic order under modern conditions could not continue if its con- 
trol of resources were not upheld by the legal compulsion of the state; 
that is, if its formally "legal" rights were not upheld by the threat of 
force. But the fact that an economic system is thus dependent on protec- 
tion by force, does not mean that it is itself an example of the use of 
force. 

How entirely untenable it is to maintain that the economy, however 
defined, is only a means, by contrast, for instance, with the state, be- 
comes evident from the fact that it is possible to define the state itself 
.only in terms of the means which it today monopolizes, namely, the use 
of force. If anything, the most essential aspect of economic action for 

Ectical purposes is the prudent choice between ends. This choice is, 
vever, oriented to the scarcity of the means which are available or 
could be procured for these various ends. 

5. Not every type of action which is rational in its choice of means 
will be called "rational economic action," or even "economic action" in 
any sense; in particular, the term "economy" will be distinguished from 
that of "technology."* The "technique" of an action refers to the means 
employed as opposed to the meaning or end to which the action is, in 
the last analysis, oriented. "Rational" technique is a choice of means 
which is consciously and systematically oriented to the experience and 
reflection of the actor, which consists, at the highest level of rationality, 
in scientific knowledge. What is concretely to be treated as a "techni- 
nique" is thus variable. The ultimate meaning of a concrete act may, 
seen in the total context of action, be of a "technical" order; that is, it 
, may be significant only as a means in this broader context. Then the 
"meaning" of the concrete act (viewed from the larger context) lies in 
its technical function; and,- conversely, the means which are applied in 
order to accomplish this are its "techniques." In this sense there are 
techniques of every conceivable type of action, techniques of prayer, of 
asceticism, of thought and research, of memorizing, of education, of ex- 
ercising political or hierocratic domination, of administration, of making 
love, of making war, of musical performances, of sculpture and painting, 
of arriving at legal decisions. AH these are capable of the widest varia- 
tion in degree of rationality. The presence of a "technical question" al- 
ways means that there is some doubt over the choice of the most rational 
means to an end. Among others, the standard of rationality for a tech- 
nique may be the famous principle of "least effort," the achievement of 



66 SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION [ Ch. II 

an optimum in. the relation between the result and the means to be ex- 
pended on it (and not the attainment of a result with the absolute min- 
imum of means). Seemingly the same principle, of course, applies to 
economic action — or to any type of rational action. But there it has a 
different meaning. As long as the action is purely "technical" in the pres- 
ent sense, it is oriented only to the selection of the means which, with 
equal quality, certainty, and permanence of the result, are comparatively 
most "economical" of effort in the attainment of a given end; compara- 
tively, that is, insofar as there are at all directly comparable expenditures 
of means in different methods of achieving the end. The end itself is 
accepted as beyond question, and a purely technical consideration ig- 
nores other wants. Thus, in a question of whether to make a technically 
necessary part of a machine out of iron or platinum, a decision on tech- 
nical grounds alone would, so long as the requisite quantities of both 
metals for their particular purpose were available, consider only which 
of the two would in this case best bring about the given result and 
would at the same time minimize the other comparable expenditure of 
resources, such as labor. But once consideration is extended to take ac- 
count of the relative scarcity of iron and platinum in relation to their 
potential uses, as today every technician is accustomed to do even in the 
chemical laboratory, the action is ho longer in the present sense purely 
technical, but also economic. From the economic point of view, "techni- 
cal" questions always involve the consideration of "costs." This is a 
question of crucial importance for economic purposes and in this con- 
text always takes the form of asking what would be the effect on the 
satisfaction of other wants if this particular means were not used for 
satisfaction of one given want. The "other wants" may be qualitatively 
different present wants or qualitatively identical future wants, (A simi- - 
Iar position is taken by Friedrich von Gottl-Ottlilienfeld in Grundriss 
der SoziaUfkonomik, Part II, 2; an extensive and very good discussion of 
this issue in R. Liefmann, Grundsatze der VolkswirtschaftslehTe, vol. I 
(3rd ed.), p. 3iiff. Any attempt to reduce all means to "ultimate ex- 
penditures of labor" is erroneous.) 

For the answer to the question, what is, in comparative terms, the 
"cost" of using various means for a given technical end, depends in the 
last analysts on their potential usefulness as means to other ends. This is 
particularly true of labor. A technical problem in the present sense is, 
for instance, that of what equipment is necessary in order to move loads 
of a particular kind or in order to raise mineral products from a given 
depth in a mine, and which of the alternatives is the most "suited," that 
is, among other things, which achieves a given degree of success with 
the least expenditure of effort. It is, on the other hand, an economic 
problem whether, on the assumption of a market economy, these expen- 
ditures will pay off in terms of money obtained through the sale of the 
goods; or, -on the assumption of a planned economy, whether the nec- 
essary labor and other means of production can be provided without 
damage to the satisfaction of other wants held to be more urgent. In 
both cases, it is a problem of the comparison of ends. Economic action 



] The Concept of Economic Action 6 7 

is primarily oriented to the problem of choosing the end to which a 
thing shall be applied; technology, to the problem, given the end, of 
choosing the appropriate means. For purposes of the theoretical (not, of 
course, the practical) definition of technical rationality it is wholly in- 
different whether the product of a technical process is in any sense use- 
ful. In the present terminology we can conceive of a rational technique 
for achieving ends which no one desires. It would, for instance, be possi- 
ble, as a kind of technical amusement, to apply all the most modern 
methods to the production of atmospheric air. And no one could take 
the slightest exception to the purely technical rationality of the action. 
Economically, on the other hand, the procedure would under normal 
circumstances be clearly irrational because there would be no demand 
for the product. (On all this, compare v. Gottl-OttHHenfeld, op. cit.) 

The fact that what is called the technological development of mod- 
em times has been so largely oriented economically to profit-making is 
one of the fundamental facts of the history of technology. But however 
fundamental it has been, this economic orientation has by no means 
stood alone in shaping the development of technology. In addition, a 
part has been played by the games and cogitations of impractical ideolo- i 

gists, a part by otherworldly interests and all sorts of fantasies, a part by 
preoccupation with artistic problems, and by various other non.-economic 
motives. None the less, the main emphasis at all times, and especially 
the present, has lain in the economic determination of technological 
development. Had not rational calculation formed the basis of economic 
activity, had there not been certain very particular conditions in its 
economic background, rational technology could never haw come into 
existence. 

The fact that the aspects of economic orientation which distinguish 
it from technology were not explicitly brought into the initial definition, 
is a consequence of the sociological starting point. From a sociological 
point of view, the weighing of alternative ends in relation to each other 
and to costs is a consequence of "continuity." This is true at least so far 
as costs mean something other than altogether giving up one end in ■■... 

favor of more urgent ones. An economic, theory, on the other hand, vZ 

would do well to emphasize this criterion from the start. 

6. It is essential to include the criterion of power of control and dis- 
posal (Verfugungsgewatt)* in the sociological concept of economic ac- 
tion, if for no other reason than that at least a modern market economy 
CErwerbswirtschaft) essentially consists in a complete network of ex- . 
change contracts, that is, in deliberate planned acquisitions of powers of 
control and disposal. This, in such an economy, Is the principal source 
of the relation of economic action to the law. But any other type of or- 
ganization of economic activities would involve some kind of de facte 
distribution of powers of control and disposal, however different its un- «. 
derlying principles might be from those of the modem private enterprise 
economy with its legal protection of such powers held by autonomous 
and autocephalous economic units. Either the central authority, as in the 
case of socialism, or the subsidiary parts, as m anarchism, must be able 



6 8 SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION [ Ck. 11 

to count on having some kind of control over the necessary services of 
labor and of the means of production. It is possible to obscure this fact 
by verbal devices, but it cannot be interpreted out of existence. For pur- 
poses of definition it is a matter of indifference in what way this control 
is guaranteed; whether by convention or by law, or whether it does riot 
even enjoy the protection of any external sanctions at all, but its security 
rests only on actual expectations in terms of custom or self-interest. 
These possibilities must be taken into account, however essential legal 
compulsion may be for the modem economic order. The indispensability 
of powers of control for the concept of social action in its economic 
aspects thus does not imply that legal order is part of that concept by 
definition, however important it may be held to be on empirical 
grounds. 

7. The concept of powers of control and disposal will here be taken 
to include the possibility of control over the actor's own labor power, 
whether this is in some way enforced or merely exists in fact. That this 
is not to be taken for granted is shown by its absence in the case of 
slaves. 

8. It is necessary for the purposes of a sociological theory of eco- 
nomic action to introduce the concept of "goods" at an early stage, as is 
done in sec. 1. For this theory is concerned with a type of action which 
is given its specific meaning by the results of the actors' deliberations, 
which themselves can be isolated only in theory [but cannot be observed 
empirically]. Economic theory, the theoretical insights of which provide 
the basis for the sociology of economic action, might (perhaps) be able 
to proceed differently; the latter may find it necessary to create its own 
theoretical constructs. 



2. The Concept of Utility 

By "utilities" (Nutzleisttmgen) will always be meant the specific and 
concrete, real or imagined, advantages CChancen) of opportunities for 
present or future use as they are estimated and made an object of specific 
provision by one or more economically acting individuals. The action of 
these individuals is oriented to the estimated importance of such utilities 
as means for the ends of their economic action. 

Utilities may be the services of non-human or inanimate objects or 
of human beings. Non-human objects which are the sources of potential 
utilities of whatever sort will be called "goods." Utilities derived from a 
human source, so far as this source consists in active conduct, will be 
called "services'* (Leistwtgcn). Social relationships which are valued as 
a potential source of present or future disposal over utilities are, however, 
also objects of economic provision. The opportunities of economic ad- 
vantage, which are made available by custom, by the constellation of 



2 ] The Concept of Utility 6 9 * 

interest, or by a conventional or legal order for the purposes of an eco- 
nomic unit, will be called "economic advantages." 

On the following comments, compare E. von Bohm-Bawerk, Rechte 
und Verhaltnisse vom Standfunkt der volkswirtschaftlichen Giiterlehre 
(Innsbruck 1881). 

1. The categories of goods and services do not exhaust those aspects 
of the environment which may be important to an individual for eco- 
nomic purposes and which may hence be an object of economic con- 
cern. Such things as "good will," or the tolerance of economic measures 
on the part of individuals in a position to interfere with them, and nu- 
merous other forms of behavior, may have the same kind of economic 
importance and may be the object of economic provision and, for in- , 

. stance, of contracts. It would, however, result in a Confusion of con- 
cepts to try to bring such things under either of these two categories. 
This choice of concepts is thus entirely determined by consideration of 
convenience. 

2. As Bohm-Bawerk has correctly pointed out, it would be equally 
imprecise if all concrete objects of life and of everyday speech were 

v without distinction designated as "goods," and the concept of a good 
were then equated to that of a material utility. In the strict sense of 
utility, it is not a "horse" or a "bar of iron" which is an economic "good," 
but the specific ways in which they can be put to desirable and practical 
uses; for instance the power to haul loads or to carry weights, or some- 
thing of the sort. Nor can we, in the present terminology, call goods ' 
such potential future advantages (Chancen') which appear as objects of 
exchange in economic transactions, as "good will," "mortgage," "prop- 
erty." Instead, for simplicity's sake, we shall call the services of such 
potential powers of control and disposal over the utilities of goods and 
services, promised or guaranteed by the traditional or legal order, "eco- 
nomic advantages" (CfeoMceM) or simply "advantages" wherever this is 
not likely to be misunderstood. 

3. The fact that only active conduct, and not mere acquiescence, 
permission, or omission, are treated as "services" is a matter of conven- 
ience. But it must be remembered that it follows from this that goods 
and services do not constitute an exhaustive classification of all econom- 
ically significant utilities. 

On the concept of 'labor," see below, sec. 15. 



3 . Modes of the Economic Orientation of Action 

Economic orientation may be a matter of tradition or of goal-oriented 
rationality. Even in cases where there is a high degree of rationalization 
of action, the element of traditional orientation remains considerable. 
For the most part, rational orientation is primarily significant for "mana- 
gerial" action, no matter under what form of organization. (See below, 



7 O SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION [ Ck. II 

sec. 15.) The development of rational economic action from the instinc- 
tively reactive search for food or traditional acceptance of inherited 
techniques and customary social relationships has been to a large extent 
determined by non-economic events and actions, including those outside 
everyday routine," and also by the pressure of necessity in cases of in- 
creasing absolute or relative limitations on subsistence. 

1. Naturally there cannot in principle be any scientific standard for 
any such concept as that of an "original economic state." It would be 
possible to agree arbitrarily to take die economic state on a given tech- 
nological level, as, for instance, that characterized by the lowest devel- 
opment of tools and equipment known to us, and to treat it and analyze 
it as the most primitive. But; there is no scientific justification for con- 
cluding from observations of living primitive peoples on a low techno- 
logical level that the economic organization of all peoples of the past 
with similar technological standing has been the same as, for instance, 
that of the Vedda or of certain tribes of the Amazon region. For, from 
a purely economic point of view, this level of technology has been just 
as compatible with large-scale organization of labor as with extreme 
dispersal in small groups (see below, sec. r6). It is impossible to infer 
from the economic aspects of the natural environment alone, which of 
these, would be more nearly approached. Various non-economic factors, 
for instance, military, could make a substantial difference. 

2. War and migration are not in themselves economic processes, 
though particularly in early times they have been largely oriented to 
economic considerations. At all times, nowewt, indeed up to the pres- 
ent, they have often been responsible for radical changes in the eco- 
nomic system. In cases where, through such factors as cOmatic changes, 
inroads of sand, or deforestation, there has been an absolute decrease in , 
the means of subsistence, human groups have adapted themselves in 
widely differing ways, depending on the structure of interests and on 
the manner in which non-economic factors have played a role.* The typ- 
ical reactions, however, have been s fall in the standard of living and 
an absolute decrease i population. Similarly, in cases of relative impov- 
erishment in means of subsistence, as determined by a given standard of 
living and of the distribution of chances of acquisition, there have also 
been wide variations. But on the whole, this type of situation has, more 
frequently than the other, been met by the increasing rationalization of 
economic activities. Even in this case, however, it is not possible to make 
general statements. So far as the "statistical" information can be relied 
upon, there was a tremendous increase of population In China after the 
beginning of the eighteenth century, but it had exacdy the opposite 
effect from the similar phenomenon of about the same time in Europe. 

It is, however, possible to say at least something about the reasons for 
this (see below, sec, n.). The chronic scarcity of the means of subsist- 
ence in the Arabian desert has only at certain times resulted in a change 
in the economic and political structure, and these changes have been 



3 ] Modes of Economic Orientation of Action 7 1 

most prominent when non-economic Creligious) developments have 
played a part. 

3. A high degree of traditionalism in habits of life, such as charac- 
terized the laboring classes in early modem times, has not prevented a 
great increase in the rationalization of economic enterprise under capi- 
talistic direction. But it was also compatible with, for instance, the ration- 
alization of public finances in Egypt on a state-socialistic model. Nev- 
ertheless, this traditionalistic attitude had to be at least partly overcome 
in the Western World before the further development to the specifically 
modem type of rational capitalistic economy could take place. 



4. Tyfical Measures of Rational Economic Action 

The following are typical measures of rational economic action: 

(1) The systematic Allocation as between present and future of util- 
ities, on the control of which the actor for whatever reason feels able to 
count. (These are the essential features of saving.) 

(2) The systematic allocation of available utilities to various potential 
uses in the order of their estimated relative urgency, ranked according to 
the principle of marginal utility. 

These two cases, the most definitely "static," have been most highly 
developed in times of peace. Today, for the most part, they take the form 
of the allocation of money incomes. 

■ (3) The systematic procurement* through production or transporta- 
tion of such utilities for which all the necessary means of production are 
controlled by the actor himself. Where action is rational, this type of 
action will take place so far as, according to the actor's estimate, the 
urgency of his demand for the expected result of the action exceeds the 
necessary expenditure, which may consist in (a) the irksomeness of the 
requisite labor services, and (b) the other potential uses to which the 
requisite goods could be put; including, that is, the utility of the potential 
alternative products and'their uses. This is "production" in the broader 
sense, which includes transportation. 

(4) The systematic acquisition, by agreement (VergeseUschaftung) 
with the present possessors or with competing bidders, of assured powers 
of control and disposal over utilities. The powers of control may or may 
not be shared with others. The occasion may lie in the fact that utilities 
themselves are in the control of others, that their means of procurement 
are in such control, OX that third persons desire to acquire them in such 
a way as to endangeflfhe actor's own supply. 

The relevant rational association (Vergeselhckaftung) with the 
present possessor of a power of .control or disposal may consist in (a) the 



7 2 SOCIOLOGICAL- CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION [ Ch. 11 

establishment of an organization with, an order to which the procurement 
and use of utilities is to be oriented, or (b) in exchange. In the first case 
the purpose of the organization may be to ration the procurement, use, or 
consumption, in order to limit competition of procuring actors. Then it 
is a "regulative organization." Or, secondly, its purpose may be to set 
up a unified authority for the systematic administration of the utilities 
which had hitherto been subject to a dispersed control. In this case there 
is an "administrative organization." 

"Exchange" is a compromise of interests on the part of the parties in 
the course of which goods or other advantages are passed as reciprocal 
compensation. The exchange may be traditional or conventional, 8 and 
hence, especially in the latter case, not economically rational. Or, sec- 
ondly, it may be economically rational both in intention and in result. 
Every case of a rationally oriented exchange is the resolution of a pre- 
viously open or latent conflict of interests by means of a compromise. The 
opposition of interests which is resolved in the compromise involves the 
actor potentially in two different conflicts. On the one hand, there is the 
conflict over the price to be agreed upon with the partner in exchange; 
the typical method is bargaining. On the other hand, there may also he 
competition with actual or potential rivals, either in the present or in the 
future, who are competitors in the same market. Here, the typical method 
is competitive bidding and offering. 

i. Utilities, and the goods or labor which are their sources, are un- 
der the control (Eigenverfugung) of an economically acting individual 
if he is in a position to be able in fact to make use of them at his con- 
venience Cat least, up to a point) without interference from other per- 
sons, regardless of whether this ability rests on the Bfcal order, on con- 
vention, on custom or on a complex of interests. It is by no means true 
that only the legal assurance of powers of disposal is decisive, either for 
the concept or in fact. It is, however, today empirically an indispensable 
basis for economic activitiy with the material means of production. 

2. The fact that goods are not as yet consumable may be a result of 
the fact that while they are, as such, finished, they are not yet in a suit- 
able place for consumption; hence the transportation of goods, which 
is naturally to be distinguished from trade, a change in the control over 
the goods, may here be treated as part of the process of production. 

3. When there is a lack of control (Eigenverfugung) over desired 
utilities, it is in principle indifferent whether the individual is typically 
prevented from forcibly interferir^j|with the control of others by a legal 
order, convention, custom, his own 1 self-interest, or his consciously-held 
moral standards. 

4. Competition in procurement may exist under the most various 
conditions. It is particularly important when supplies are obtained by 
seizure, .as in hunting, fishing, lumbering, pasturage, and clearing new 



4 I Typical Measures of Rational Economic Action 7 3 

land. It may also, and most frequently does, exist within an organization 
which is closed to outsiders. An order which seeks to restrain such 
competition then always consists in the rationing of supplies, usually 
combined with the appropriation of the procurement possibilities thus 
guaranteed for the benefit of a limited number of individuals or, more 
often, households. AH medieval Mark- and fishing associations, the reg- 
ulation of forest clearing, pasturage and wood gathering rights in the 
common fields and wastes, the grazing rights on Alpine meadows, and 
so on, have this character. Various types of hereditary property-rights in 
land owe their development to this type of regulation, 

5. Anything which may in any way be transferred from the control 
of one person to that of another and for which another is willing to give 
compensation, may be an object of exchange. It is not restricted to goods 
and services, but includes all kinds of potential ecpnomic advantages; for 
instance., "good will," which exists only by custom or self-interest and 
cannot be enforced; in particular, however, it includes all manner of ad- 
vantages, claims to which are enforceable under some kind of order. 
Thus objects of exchange are not* necessarily presently existing utilities. 

For present purposes, by "exchange" in the broadest sense will be 
meant every case of a formally voluntary agreement involving the offer 
of any sort of present, continuing, or future utility in exchange for util- 
ities of any sort offered in return. Thus it includes the turning over of 
the utility of goods or money in exchange for the future return of the 
same kind of goods. It also includes any sort of permission for, or toler- 
ance of, the use of an object in return for "rent" or "hire," or the hiring 
of any kind of services forNvages or salary. The fact that the last exam- 
ple today involves, from a sociological point of view, the subjection of 
the "worker," as defined in sec. 15 below, under a form of domination 
will, for preliminary purposes, be neglected, as will the distinction be- 
tween loan and purchase. 

6. The conditions of exchange may be traditional, partly traditional 
though enforced by convention, or rational. Examples of conventional 
exchanges are exchanges of gifts between friends, heroes, chiefs, princes; 
as, for instance, the exchange of armor between Diomedes and Glaucos. 
It is not uncommon for these to be rationally oriented and controlled 
to a high degree, as can be seen in the Tell-el-Amarna documents. 
Rational exchange is only possible when both parties expect to profit 
from it, or when one is under compulsion because of his own need or 
the other's economic power. Exchange may serve either purposes of 
consumption or of acquisition (see below, sec. 1 1). It may thus be ori- 
ented to provision for the personal use of the actor or to opportunities 
for profit. In the first case, its conditions are to a large extent differenti- 
ated from case to case, and it is in this sense irrational. Thus, for in- 
stance, household surpluses will be valued according to the individual 
marginal utilities of the particular household economy and may on oc- 
casion be sold very cheaply, and the fortuitous desires of the moment 
may establish the marginal utility of goods which are sought in ex- 



7 4 SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION [ Ch. II 

change at a very high level. Thus the exchange ratios, as determined by 
marginal utility, wul fluctuate widely. Rational competition develops 
only in the case o£ "marketable goods" Csee sec. 8) and, to the highest 
degree, when goods are used and sold in a profit system Csee sec. 1 0. 

7. The modes of intervention of a regulatory system mentioned above 
under point (4) are not the only possible ones, but merely those which 
are relevant here because they are the most immediate consequences of 
a tightening of the supply basis. The regulation of marketing processes 
will be discussed below. 



5. Types of Economic Organizations 

According to its relation to the economic system, an economically 
oriented organization may be: (a) an "economically active organization" 
Cwirtschaftender Verhand) if the primarily non-economic organized ac- 
tion oriented to its order includes economic action; (b) an "economic 
organization" (WirtsckaftsverbaneO if its organized action, as governed 
by the order, is ■pn-marily autocephalous economic action of a given kind; 
(c) an "economically regulative organization" (yrirtschaftsreguHerender 
VerbancT) if the autocephalous economic activity of the members is 
directly oriented to the order governing the group; that is, if economic 
action is heteronomous in that respect; (d) an "organization enforcing 
a formal order" (Ordnungsverband)* if its order merely guarantees, by 
means of formal rules, the autocephalous and autonomous economic 
activities of its members and the corresponding economic advantages thus 
acquired. 

1. The state, except for the socialistic or communist type, and all 
other organizations like churches and voluntary associations are econom- 
ically active groups if they manage their own financial affairs. This is 
also true of educational institutions and all other organizations which 
are not primarily economic. 

2. In the category of "economic organizations" in the present sense 
are included not only business corporations, co-operative associations, 
cartels, partnerships, and so on, but all permanent economic establish- 
ments (Brtrfefee) which involve the activities of a plurality of persons, all 
the way from a workshop run by two artisans to ft conceivable commu- 
nistic organization of the whole world. 

3. "Economically regulative organizations" are the following: medi- 
eval village associations, guilds, trade unions, employers' associations, 
cartels, and all other groups, the directing authorities of which carry 
on an "economic policy" which seeks tf regulate both the ends and the 
procedures of economic activity. It thus includes the villages and towns 
of the Middle Ages, just as much as a modem state which follows such 
apolky. 



5 ] Types of Economic Organizations 7 5 

4. An example of a group confined to the "enforcement of a formal 
order" is the pure laissez-faire state, which would leave the economic 
activity of individual households and enterprises entirely free and con- 
fine its regulation to the formal function of settling disputes connected 
with the fulfillment of free contractual obligations. 

5. The existence of organizations "regulating economic activity" or 
merely "enforcing a formal order" presupposes in principle a certain 
amount of autonomy in the field of economic activity. Thus there is in 
principle a sphere of free disposal over economic resources, though it 
may he limited in varying degrees by means of rules to which the ac- 
tors are oriented. This implies, further, the Cat least relative) appropri- 
ation of economic advantages, over which the actors then have autono- 
mous control; The purest type of a group "enforcing a formal order" is 
thus present when all human action is autonomous with respect to 
content, and oriented to regulation only with respect to form, and when 
all non-human sources of utility are completely appropriated so that in- 
dividuals can have free disposal of them, in particular by exchange, as 
is the case in a modem property system. Any other kind of limitation on 
appropriation and autonomy implies "regulation of economic activity," 
because it restricts the orientation of human activities. 

6. The dividing line between "regulation of economic activity" and 
mere "enforcement of a formal order" is vague. For, naturally, the type 
of "formal" order not only may, but must, in some way also exert a 
material influence on action; in some cases, a fundamental influence. 
Numerous modem legal ordinances, which claim to do no more than 
set up formal rules, are so drawn up that they actually exert a material 
influence (see "Soc. of Law," Part Two; ch. VIII). Indeed, a really 
s,trict limitation to purely formal rules is possible only in theory. Many 
of the recognized "overriding" principles of law, of a kind which cannot 
he dispensed with, imply to an appreciable degree important limitations 
on the content of economic activity. Especially "enabling provisions" 
can under certain circumstances, as in corporation law, involve quite 
appreciable limitations on economic autonomy. 

7. The limits of the material regulation of economic activity may 
■ he reached when it results in (a) the abandonment of certain kinds of 

economic activity, as when a tax on turnover leads to the cultivation of 
land only for consumption; or 00 in evasion, in such cases as smug 
gling, boodegging, etc. 



6. Media of Exchange, Means of Payment, Money 

A material object offered in exchange will be called a "medium of 
exchange" so far as it is typically accepted primarily by virtue of the fact 
that the recipients estimate that they will, within the relevant time hori- 
zon, be able to utilize it in another exchange to procure other goods at an 
acceptable exchange ratio, regardless of whether it is exchangable for 



76 SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION [ Ch. II 

all other goods or only for certain specific goods, The probability that the 
medium of exchange will be accepted at a given rate for specific other 
goods will be called its "substantive val; lity" (materiale Gehung) in rela- 
tion to these. The use itself will be cahed the "formal validity" {formate 
Geltung}. 

An object will be called a "means of payment" so far as its acceptance 
in payment of specific agreed or imposed obligations is guaranteed by 
convention or by law. This is the "formal validity" of the means of pay- 
ment, which may also signify its formal validity as a means of exchange. 
Means of exchange or of payment will be called "cbartal" Qchartaiy" 
when they are artifacts which, by virtue of their specific form, enjoy a - 
definite quantum, conventional or legal, agreed or imposed, of formal 
. validity within the membership of a group of persons or within a ter- 
ritorial area; and when (b) they are divisible in such a way that they 
represent a particular unit of nominal value or a multiple or a fraction 
of it, so that it is possible to use diem in arithmetical calculations. 

"Money" we call a chartal means of payment which is also a means 
of exchange. 

An organization will be called a "means of exchange," "means of 
payment," or "money" group insofar as it effectively imposes within the 
sphere of authority of its orders the conventional or legal (tormol) 
validity of a means of exchange, of payment, or money; these will be 
termed "internal", means of exchange, etc. Means used in transactions 
with non-members will be called "external" means of exchange. 

Means of exchange or of payment which are not chartal are "natural", 
means. They may be differentiated (a) in technical terms, according to 
their physical characteristic— they may be ornaments, clothing, useful 
objects of various sorts — or according to whether their utilization occurs 
in terms of weight or not. They may also (b) be distinguished economi- 
cally according to whether they are used primarily as means of exchange 
or for purposes of social prestige, the prestige of possession. They may 
also be distinguished according to whether they are used as means of ex- 
change and payment in internal or in external transactions. 

Money, means of exchange or of payment are "tokens" so far as they 
do not or no longer possess a value independent of their use as means of 
exchange and of payment. They are, on the other hand, "material" means 
so far as their value as such is influenced by their possible use for other 
purposes, or may be so influenced. 

Money may consist either of coined or of note (document) money. 
Notes are usually adapted to a system of coinage or have a name which is 
historically derived from it. 

(1) Coined money will be called "free" money or "market" money 
so far as the monetary metal will be coined by the mint on thelnitiative 



6 ] Media of Exchange, Means of Payment, Money 7 7 

of any possessor of it without limit of amount. This means that in effect 
the amount issued is determined hy the demand of parties to market 
transactions. 

(2) It will be called "limited" money or "administrative" money if 
the transformation of the metal into its chartal form (coinage) is subject 
to the formally quite arbitrary decisions of the governing authority of an 
organization and is in effect primarily oriented to its fiscal needs, 

(3) It will be called "regulated" money if, though its issue is limited, 
the kind and amount of coinage is effectively subject to rules. 

The term "means of circulation" will be applied to a document which 
functions as "note" money, if it is accepted in normal transactions as "pro- 
visional" money with the expectation that it can, at any time, be con- 
verted into "definitive" money, that is into coins, or a given weight of 
monetary metal. It is a "certificate" if this is assured by regulations which 
require maintenance of stocks providing full coverage in coin or bullion. 

We call "conversion scales" the conventional or legally imposed ex- 
change ratios valid within an organization for the different "natural" 
nieans of exchange or payment. 

"Currency money" is the money which by the effective arrangements 
within an organization has validity as a means of payment without limi- 
tation on the amount that need he accepted. ''Monetary material" is the 
material from which money is made; "monetary metal" is this material 
in the case of market money. "Monetary value scale" we call the relative 
valuation of the various subdivisions and denominations, consisting of 
different material substances, of "note" or "administrative" money; the 
same ratios in the case of types of market money made of different mc-uls 
we call "exchange ratios." 

"International" means of payment are those means of payment which 
serve to balance accounts between different monetary systems, that is, so 
far as payments are not postponed bv funding operations. 

Every reform of the monetary system by an organization must neces- 
sarily take account of the fact that certain means of payment have 
previously been used for the liquidation of debts. It must cither accept as 
legal their continued use as a means of payment, or impose new uiies. In 
the latter case an exchange ratio must be established bctwcvii the old 
units, whether natural, by weight, or chartal, and the new ones. This is 
the principle of the so-called "historical" definition of money as a means 
of payment. It is impossible here to discuss how far this reacts upon the 
exchange relation between money as a means of exchange and goods. 

It should be strongly emphasized that the present discussion is not 
an essay in monetary theory, but only an attempt to work out the sim- 
plest possible formulations of a set of concepts which will have to be 



7 8 .SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION [Ch. 11 

frequently employed later on. In addition, this discussion is concerned 
primarily- with certain very elementary sodohffcal consequences of the 
use of money. The formulation of monetary theory, which has been 
most acceptable to the author, is that of von Mises." The Stootlfcfee 
Theorie des Geides by G. F. Knapp" is the most imposing work in the 
field and in its way solves the formal problem brilliantly. It is, how- 
ever, as will be seen below, incomplete for substantive monetary prob- 
lems. Its able and valuable attempt to systematize terminology and con- 
cepts will be left out of account at this point 

i. Means of exchange and means of payment very often, though by 
no means always, coincide empirically. They are, however, particularly 
likely not to do so in primitive conditions. The means of payment for 
dowries, tribute, obligatory gifts, fines, wergild, etc., are often specified 
in convention or by law without regard to any relation to the means of 
exchange actually in circulation. It is only when the economic affairs of 
the organization are administered in money terms that von Mises* con- 
tention that even the state seeks means of payment only as a means of 
exchange becomes tenable. This has not been true of cases where the 
possession of certain means of payment has been primarily significant as 
a mark of social status. (See Heinrich Schurtz, Grundriss einer Entsteh- 
ungsgeschichte des Geides, 1898). With die introduction of regulation 
of money by the state, means of payment becomes the legal concept and 
means of exchange die economic concept. 

a. There seems at first sight to be an indistinct line between a 
"good" which is purchased solely with a view to its future resale and a 
medium of exchange. In fact, however, even under conditions which 
are otherwise primitive there is a strong tendency for particular objects 
to monopolize the function of medium of exchange so completely that 
there is no doubt about their status. Wheat futures are traded in terms 
which imply that there will be a final buyer. Therefore they cannot be 
treated as means of payment or medium of exchange, let alone money, 

3. So long as there is no officially sanctioned money, what is used as 
means of exchange is primarily determined by the customs, interests, 
and conventions to which the agreements between the partie* to trans- 
actions are oriented. The reasons why specific things have become ac- 
cepted as means of exchange cannot be gone into here. They have, 
however, been exceedingly various and tend to he determined by the 
type of exchange which has been of the greatest importance. By no 
means every medium of exchange, even within the social group where 
it has been employed, has been universally acceptable for every type of 
exchange. Far instance, cowry shells, though used for other things, have 
not been acceptable in payment for wives or cattle. 

4. Sometimes means of payment which were not the usual means of 
exchange have played an important part in the development of money 
to its special status. As G F. Knapp has pointed out, the fact that vari- 
ous types of debt have existed, such as obligations stemming from trib- 
utes, dowries, payments for bride purchase, conventional gifts to kings 



6 ] Media of Exc&mge, Means 'of Payment,. Money , 7 9 

or by king? to each other, wergild, etc., and the fact that these have 
often been payable in certain specific media, has created for these media, 
by convention or by law, a special position. Very often they have been ' 
specific types of artifacts. 

5. Money in the meaning of the present terminology may have been 
the one-fifth shekel pieces bearing the stamp of merchant firms which 
are mentioned in the Babylonian records, on the assumption, that i«. 
that they were actually used as means of exchange. On the other hand, 
bars of bullion which were not coined, but weighed, will here not be 
treated as money, but only as means of payment and exchange. The 
fact, however, that they were weighed has been enormously important 
for the development of the habit of economic calculations. There are, 
naturally, many transitional forms, such as the acceptance of coins by 
weight rather than by denomination. 

6. "Chartal" is a term introduced by Knapp in his Staatliche Theo- 
rie des Geldes. All types of money which have been stamped or coined, 
endowed with validity by law or by agreement, belong in this category, 
whether they were metal or not. It does not, however;, seem reasonable 
to confine the concept to regulations by the state and not to include 
cases where acceptance is made compulsory by convention or by some 
agreement. There seems, furthermore, to be no reason why actual mint- 
fog by the state or under the control of the political authorities should 
he a decisive criterion. For long periods this did not exist in China at all 
and was very much limited in the European Middle Ages. As Knapp 
would agree, it is only the existence of norms regulating the monetary 
form which is decisive. As will be noted below, validity as a means of 
payment'and formal acceptability as means of exchange in private trans- 
actions may be made compulsory by law within the jurisdiction of the 
political authority. 

7. Natural means of exchange and of payment may sometimes be 
used more for internal transactions, sometimes more for external. The 
details need not be considered here. The question of the substantive 
validity of money will be taken up later. 

8. This is, furthermore, not the place to take up the substantive 
theory of money in its relation to prices so fat as this subject belongs in 
the field of economic sociology at all. For present purposes it will suffice 

■ to state the fact that money, in its most important forms, is used, and 
then to pf8ceed"'to develop some of the most general sociological con- 
sequences of this fact, which is merely a formal matter when seen from 
an economic point of view. It must, howevet, be emphasized that money 
can never be merely a harmless "voucher" or a purely nominal unit of 
accounting so long as it is money. Its valuation is always in very complex 
ways dependent also on its scarcity or, in case of inflation, on its over- 
abundance. This has been particularly evident in recent times, but is 
equally true for all times. 

A socialistic regime might issue vouchers, in payment for a given 
quantity of socially useful 'labor," valid for the purchase of certain 



8o SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION [Ch. JI 

types of goods. These might be saved or used in exchange, but their 
behavior would follow the rules of barter exchange, not of money, 
though the exchange might be indirect. 

9. Perhaps the most instructive case of the Far-reaching economic 
consequences of the relations between the monetary and non-monetary 
uses of a monetary metal is that of Chinese monetary history, because 
copper money, with high costs of production and wide fluctuations in 
output of the monetary meta!, permits an especially clear view of the 
phenomena involved. 



7. The Primary Consequences of the Use of Money. 
Credit 

The primary consequences of the widespread use of money are; 

( 1 ) The so-called "indirect exchange" as a means of satisfying con- 
sumers' wants. The use of money makes it possible to obtain goods which 
are separated from those offered in exchange for them in space, in time, 
in respect to the persons involved, and, what is very important, in respect 
to the quantity on each side of the transaction. This results in a tremen- 
dous extension of the area of possible exchange relationships. 

(2.) The valuation in terms of money of delayed obligations, espe- 
cially of compensatory obligations arising out of an exchange Cshat is, 
debts). This is, of course, closely related to the first point. 

(3) The so-called "storage of value"; that is, the accumulation of 
money in specie or in the form of claims to payment collectable at any 
time as a means of insuring future control over opportunities of advanta- 
geous economic exchange. 

(4) The increasing transformation of all economic advantages into 
the ability to control sums of money. 

(5) The qualitative individuation of consumption and, indirectly, its 
expansion for those who have control of money, of claims to money pay- 
ment, or of opportunities to acquire money. This means the ability to 
offer money as a means of obtaining goods and services of all kinds. 

(6) The orientation of the procurement of utilities, as it has become 
widespread today, to their bearing on the marginal utility of the sums of 
money which the directing authorities of an economic unit expect to he 
able tc£ontrol in the relevant future. 

(7) With this goes the orientation of acquisitive activities to all the 
opportunities which are made available by the extension of the area of 
possible exchanges, in time, in place, and with respect to personal agents, 
as noted above. 



7 ] Primary Consequences of the Use of Money. Credit 8 i 

(8) AH of these consequences are dependent on what is, in princi- 
ple, the most important fact of all, the possibility of monetary calculation; 
that is, the possibility of assigning money values to all goods and services 
which in any way might enter into transactions of purchase and sale. 

In substantive as distinguished from formal terms, monetary calcula- 
tion means that goods are not evaluated merely in terms of their im- 
mediate importance as utilities at the given time and place and for the 
given person only. Rather, goods are more or less systematically com- 
pared, whether for consumption or for production, with all potential 
future opportunities of utilization or of gaining a return, including their 
possible utility to an indefinite number of other persons who can be 
brought into the comparison insofar as they are potential buyers of the 
powers of control and disposal of the present owner. Where money cal- 
culations have become typical, this defines the "market situation" of the 
good in question. (The above statement formulates only the simplest and 
best-known elements of any discussion of "money" and does not need 
to be further commented upon. The sociology of the "market" will not 
yet be developed here. On the formal concepts, see sees. 8 and io.) 

The term "credit" in the most general sense will be used to designate 
any exchange of goods presently possessed against the promise of a future 
transfer of disposal over utilities, no matter what they may be. The grant- 
ing of credit means in the first instance that action is oriented to the 
probability that this future transfer of disposal will actually take place. 
In this sense the primary significance of credit lies in the fact that it 
makes it possible for an economic unit to exchange an expected future 
surplus of control over goods or money against the present control of 
some other unit over goods which the latter does not now intend to use- 
Where the action is rational, both parties expect an improvement in their 
position, regardless of what it consists in, over what it would be under 
the present distribution of resources without the exchange. 

i. It is by no means necessary for the advantages in question to be 
. economic. Credit may be granted and accepted for all conceivable pur- 
poses, for instance, charitable and military. 

2. Credit may be granted and accepted in kind or in money, and in 
both cases the promises may be of concrete goods or services or of 
money payments. Carrying out credit transactions in terms of money, 
however, means that they become the subject of monetary calculations 
with all the attendant consequences, which will be discussed below. 

3. This definition (of credit) for the most part corresponds to the 
usual one. It is clear that credit relationships may exist between organi- 
zations of all sorts, especially socialist or communist organizations. If 
theft* exist side by side several such groups, which are not economically 
autarkic, credit relationships are unavoidable. When the use of money 



/ 



8 2 SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION [ Ch. 11 

is completely absent, 18 there is a difficult problem of finding a rational 
basis of calculation. For die mere fact of the possibility of transactions 
involving compensation in the future does not tell us anything about 
the degree of rationality with which the parties agree on the conditions, 
especially in the case of long-term credit. Such parties would be in some- 
what the same situation as the household economic units (oifeos) of an- 
cient times which exchanged their surpluses for things they had need 
of. But there is this difference, that in the present situation die interests 
of huge masses on a long-term basis would be at stake; and for rhe great 
masses of the low-income groups, the marginal utility of present con- 
sumption is particularly high. Thus there would be a probability that 
goods urgently needed could only be obtained on unfavorable terms. 

4. Credit may be obtained and used for the purpose of satisfying 
. present consumption needs which are inadequately provided for. Even 

in that case it will, so far as the action is economically rational, only be 
granted in exchange for advantages. This is not, however, historically 
usual for the earliest type of consumption credit and especially for 
p emergency credit, the motives for which more frequently stemmed from 
an appeal to ethical obligations. This will be discussed in Part Two, chap. 
111:2. , 

5, What is the most common basis of credit, in money or in kind, 
when it is granted for profit, is very obvious. It is the fact that, because 
the lender is usually in a better economic situation, the marginal utility 
of future expectations, as compared with present ones, is higher than it 
is for the borrower. It should, however, be noted that what constitutes 
a "better" situation is highly relative. 



8. The Market 

By the "market situation" (.Marktlage) for any object of exchange is 
meant all the opportunities of exchanging it for money which are known 
to the participants in exchange relationships and aid their orientation in 
the competitive price struggle. 

"Marketability" (MarktgangigkeiO is the degree of regularity with 
which an object tends to be an object of exchange on the market. 

"Market freedom" is the degree of autonomy enjoyed by the parties 
to market relationships in the price struggle and in competition. 

"Regulation of the market," on the contrary, is the state of affairs 
where there is a substantive restriction, effectively enforced by the pro- 
visions of an order, on Ihe marketability of certain potential objects of 
exchange or on the market freedom of certain participants. Regulation 
of the market may be determined CO traditionally, by the actors' be- 
coming accustomed to traditionally accepted limitations on exchange or 
to traditional conditions; (2) by convention, through social disapproval 



8 ) The Market 8 3 

of treating certain utilities as marketable or of subjecting certain objects 
of exchange to free competition and free price determination, in general 
or when undertaken by certain groups of persons; (3) by law, through 
legal restrictions on exchange or on the Freedom of competition, in gen- 
eral or for particular groups of persons or for particular objects of ex- 
change. Legal regulations may take the form of influencing the market 
situation of objects of exchange by price regulation, o. of limiting the 
possession, acquisition, or exchange of rights of control and disposal over 
certain goods to certain specific groups of persons, as in the case of legally 
guaranteed monopolies or of legal limitations on economic action. (4) By 
voluntary action arising from the structure of interests. In this case there 
is substantive regulation of the market, though the market remains for- 
mally free. This type of regulation tends to develop when certain par- 
ticipants in the market are, by virtue of their totally or approximately 
exclusive control of the possession of or opportunities to acquire certain 
utilities — that is, of their monopolistic powers — in a position to influence 
the market situation in such a way as actually to abolish the market free- 
dom of others. In particular, they may make agreements with each other 
and with typical exchange partners for regulating market conditions. 
Typical examples are market quota agreements and price cartels. 

i. It is convenient, though not necessary, to confine the term "mar- 
ket situation" to cases of exchange for money, because it is only then 
that uniform numerical statements of relationships become possible. 
Opportunities for exchange in kind are best described simply as "ex- 
change opportunities." Different kinds of goods are and have been mar-/ 
ketable in widely different and variable degrees, even where a money 
economy was well developed. The details cannot be gone into here. In 
general, articles produced in standardized form in large quantities and 
widely consumed have been the most marketable; unusual goods, only 
occasionally in demand, the least. Durable consumption goods which can 
be used up over long periods and means of production with a long or 
indefinite life, above all, agricultural and forest land, have been mar- 
ketable to a much less degree than finished goods of everyday use or 
means of production which are quickly used up, which can be used only 
once, or which give quick returns. 

2. Rationality of the regulation of markets has been historically asso- 
ciated with the growth of formal market freedom and the extension of 
marketability of goods. The original modes of market regulation have 
been various, partly traditional and magical, partly dictated by kinship 
relations, by status privileges, by military needs, by welfare policies, and 
not least by the interests and requirements of the governing authorities 
of organizations. But in each of these cases the dominant interests have 
not been primarily concerned with maximizing the opportunities of ac- 
quisition and economic provision of the participants in the market 



8 4 SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION [ Ch. II 

themselves; have, indeed, often been in conflict with them. CO Some- 
times the effect has been to exclude certain objects from market dealings, 
either permanendy or for a time. This has happened in the magical 
case, by taboo; in that of kinship, by the entailing of landed property; 
on the basis of social status, as with knightly fiefs. In times of famine 
the sale of grain has been temporarily prohibited. In other cases per- 
mission to sell has been made conditional on a prior offer of the good 
to certain persons, such as kinsmen, co-members of the status group, of 
the guild, or of the town association; or the sale has been limited by 
maximum prices, as is common in war time, or by minimum prices. 
Thus, in the interests of their status dignity magicians, lawyers, or phy- 
sicians may not be allowed to accept fees below a certain minimum. (.2) 
Sometimes certain categories of persons, such as members of the nobil- 
ity, peasants, or sometimes even artisans, have been excluded from 
market trade in general or with respect to certain commodities. (3) 
Sometimes the market freedom of consumers has been restricted by regula- 
tions, as by the sumptuary laws regulating the consumption of different 
status groups, or by rationing in case of war or famine. (4) Another type 
is the restriction of the market freedom of potential competitors in the 
interest of the market position of certain groups, such as the professions or 
the guilds. Finally, (5) certain economic opportunities have been reserved 
to the political authorities (royal monopolies) or to those holding a charter 
from such authorities. This was typical for the early capitalistic mono- 
polies. 

Of all these, the fifth type of market regulation bad the highest 
"market-rationality," and the first the lowest. By "rationality" we here 
mean a force which promotes the orientation of the economic activity 
of strata interested in purchase and sale of goods on the market to the , 
market situations. The other types of regulation fit in between these two 
with respect to their rationality-impeding effect. The groups which, rel- 
ative to these forms of regulation, have been most interested in the free- 
dom of the market, have been those whose interests lay in the greatest 
possible extension of the marketability of goods, whether from the point 
of view of availability for con sumption, or of ready opportunities for 
sale. Voluntary market regulation first appeared extensively and per- 
manently only on behalf of highly developed profit-making interests. 
With a view to the securing of monopolistic advantages, this could take 
several forms: (i) the pure regulation of opportunities for purchase and 
sale, which is typical of the widespread phenomena of trading mono- 
polies: (2) the regulation of transportation facilities, as in shipping and 
railway monopolies; ( 3} the monopolization of the production of certain 
goods; and (4) that of the extension of credit and of financing. The last 
two types generally are accompanied by an increase in the regulation of 
economic activity by organizations. But unlike the primitive, irrational 
forms of regulation, this is apt to be oriented in a methodical manner to the 
market situation. The starting point of voluntary market regulation has in 
general been the fact that certain groups with a far-reaching degree of 



8 ] _ The Market 8 5 

actual control over economic resources have been in a position to take 
advantage o£ the formal Freedom of the market to establish monopolies. 
Voluntary associations of consumers, such as consumers' co-operatives, 
" have, on the other hand, tended to originate among those who were in 
^,an economically weak position. They have hence often been able to ac- 
complish savings for their members, but only occasionally and limited to 
particular localities have they been able to establish an effective system 
of market regulation. 



9. Formal and Substantive Rationality of Economic 
Action 

The term "formal rationality of economic action" will be used to 
designate the extent of quantitative calculation or accounting which is 
technically possible and which is actually applied. The "substantive 
rationality," on the other hand, ts the degree to which the provisioning of 
gjven groups of persons (no matter how delimited) with goods is shaped 
by economically oriented social action under some criterion (past, 
present, or potential) of ultimate values (weriende Postulated, regardless 
of the nature of these ends. These may be of a great variety. 

1. The terminology suggested above is thought of merely as a means 
of securing greater consistency in the use of the word "rational" in this 
field. It is actually only a more precise form of the meanings which are 
continually recurring in the discussion of "nationalization" and of the 
economic calculus in money and in kind. 

2. A system of economic activity will be called "formally" rational 
according to the degree in which the provision for needs, which is es- 
sential to every rational economy, is capable of being expressed in nu- 
merical, calculable terms, and is so expressed. In the first instance, it is 
quite independent of the technical form these calculations take, particu- 
larly whether estimates are expressed in money or in kind, The concept 
is thus unambiguous, at least in the sense that expression in money 
term yields the highest degree of formal caiculabiiity. Naturally, even 
this is true only relatively, so long as other things are equal. 

3. The concept of "substantive rationality," on the other hand, is full 
of ambiguities. It conveys only one element common to all "substantive" 
analyses: namely, that they do not restrict themselves to note the purely 
formal and (relatively) unambiguous fact that action is based on "goal- 
oriented" rational calculation with the technically most adequate availa- 
ble methods, but apply certain criteria of ultimate ends, whether they be 
ethical, political, utilitarian, hedonistic, feudal (_standisch), egalitarian, 
or whatever, and measure the results of the economic action, however 
formally "rational" in the sense of correct calculation they may be, 
against these scales of "value rationality" or "substantive goal ration- 



8 6 SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OP ECONOMIC ACTION [ Cfc. II 

ality." There is an infinite number of possible value scales for this type 
of rationality, of which the socialist and communist standards consti- 
tute only one group. The latter, although by no means unambiguous 
in themselves, always involve elements of social justice and equality. 
Others are criteria of status distinctions, or of the capacity for power, 
especially of the war capacity, of a political -unit; all these and many 
others are of potential "substantive" significance. These points of view 
are, however, significant only as bases from which to judge the out- 
come of economic action. In addition and quite independently, it is 
possible to judge from an ethical, ascetic, or esthetic point of view the 
spirit of economic activity (Winsehaftsgemimtng) as well as the 
instruments of economic activity. All of these approaches may consider 
the "purely formal" rationality of calculation in monetary terms as of ■ 
quite secondary importance or even as fundamentally inimical to their 
respective ultimate ends, even before anything has been said about the 
consequences of the specifically modern calculating attitude. There is 
no question in this discussion of attempting value judgments in this 
field, but only of determining and delimiting what is to be called 
"formal." In this context the concept "substantive" is itself in a certain 
sense "formal;" that is, it is an abstract, generic concept. 



jo. The Rationality of Monetary Accounting. Manage- 
ment and Budgeting 

From a purely technical point of view, money is the most "perfect" 
means of economic calculation. That is, it is formally the most rational 
means of orienting economic activity. Calculation in terms of money, 
and not its actual use, is thus the specific means of rational, economic 
provision. So far as it is completely rational, money accounting has the 
following primary consequences: 

(O The valuation of all the means of achieving a productive purpose 
in terms of the present or expected market situation. This includes every- 
thing which is needed at present or is expected to be needed in the fu- 
ture^ everything actually in the actor's control, which he may come to 
control or may acquire by exchange from the control of others; everything 
lost, or in danger of damage or destruction; all types of utilities, of means 
of production, or any other sort of economic advantage. 

(2) The quantitative statement of (a) the expected advantages of 
every projected course of economic action and (b) the actual results of 
every completed action, in the form of an account comparing money costs 
and money returns and the estimated net profit to be gained from alterna- 
tives of action. 

(3) A periodical comparison of all the goods and other assets con- 



io ] - Rationality of Monetary Accounting 8 7 

trolled by an economic unit at a given time with those controlled at the 
beginning of a period, both in terms of money, 

(4) An ex-ante estimate and an ex-post verification of receipts and 
expenditures, either those in money itself-, orthose which can be va' sed 
in money, which the economic unit is likely to have available for its use 
during a period if it maintains the money value of the means at its dis- 
posal intact. 

(5) The orientation of consumption to these data by the utilization of 
the money available (on the basis of point 4) during the accounting period 
for the acquisition of the requisite utilities in accordance with the principle 
of marginal utility. 

The continual utilization and procurement of goods, whether through 
production or exchange, by an economic unit for purposes of its own 
consumption or to procure other goods for consumption, will be called 
"budgetary management" (Haushali) ." Where rationality exists, its 
basis for an individual or for a group economically oriented in this way is 
the "budget" (_Haushaltsplan), which states systematically in what way 
the needs expected for an accounting period— needs for utilities or for 
means of procurement to obtain them — can be covered by the anticipated 
income. 

The "income" of a "budgetary unit" is the total of goods; valued in 
money, which, as estimated according to the principle stated above in 
point (4), has been available during a previous period or on the availa- 
bility of which the unit is likely to be able to count on the basis of a 
rational estimate for the present or for a future period. The total esti- 
mated value of the goods at the disposal of a budgetary unit which are 
normally utilized over a longer period, either directly or as a source of 
income, will be called its "wealth" (Vermdgen'). 1 * The possibility of com- 
plete monetary budgeting for the budgetary unit is dependent on the pos- 
sibility that its income and wealth consist either in money or in goods 
which are at any time subject to exchange for money; that is, which are 
in the highest degree marketable. 

A rational type of management and budgeting of a budgetary unit is 
possible also where calculation is carried out in terms of physical units, 
as will be further discussed below. It is true that in that case there is no 
such thing as "wealth" capable of being expressed in a single sum of 
money, nor is there a single "income" in the same sense. Calculation is 
in terms of "holdings" of concrete goods and, where acquisition is limited 
to peaceful means, of concrete "receipts" from the expenditure of avail- 
able real goods and services, which will he administered with a view to 
attaining the optimum provision for the satisfaction of wants. If the 
wants are strictly given, this involves a comparatively simple problem 



8 8 SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION [ Ch. II 

from the technical point of view so long as the situation does not require 
a very precise estimate of the comparative utility fo be gained from the 
allocation of the available resources to each of a large number of very 
heterogeneous modes of use. If the situation is markedly different, even 

the simple self-sufficient household is faced with problems which are 
only to a very limited degree subject to a formally exact solution by cal- 
culation. The actual solution is usually found partly by the application 
of purely traditional standards, partly by making very rough estimates, 
which, however, may be quite adequate where both the wants concerned 
and the conditions of provision for them are well known and readily 
comparable. When the "holdings" consist in heterogpneous goods, as 
must be the case in the absence of exchange, a formally exact calculable 
comparison of the state of holdings at the beginning and the end of a 
period, or of the comparison of different possible ways of securing 
receipts, is possible only for categories oi goods which ars qualitatively 
identical. The typical result is that all availabie goods are treated as form- 
ing a totality of physical holdings, and certain quantities of goods are 
treated as available for consumption, so long as it appears that this will 
not in the long run diminish die available resources. But every change 
in the conditions of production — as, for instance, through a bad harvest 
— or any change in wants necessitates a new allocation, since it alters the 
scale of relative marginal utilities. Under conditions which are simple 
and adequately understood, this adaptation may be carried out without 
much difficulty. Otherwise, it is technically more difficult than if money 
terms could be used, in which case any change in the price situation in 
principle influences the satisfaction only of the wants which are marginal 
on the scale of relative urgency and are met with the last increments of 
money income. 

As accounting in kind becomes completely rational and is emanci- 
pated from tradition, the estimation of marginal utilities in terms of the 
relative urgency of wants encounters grave complications; whereas, if it 
were carried out in terms of monetary wealth and income, it would be 
relatively simple. In the latter case the question is merely a "marginal" 
one, namely whether to apply more labor or whether to satisfy or sacri- 
fice, as the case may be, one or more wants, rather than others. For when 
the problems of budgetary management are expressed in money terms, 
this is the form the "costs" take [opportunity cost]. But if calculations 
are in physical terms, it becomes necessary to take into account, besides 
the scale of urgency of the wants, also (i) the alternative modes of 
utilization of all means of production, including the entire amount of 
labor hitherto expended, which means different (according to the mode 
of utilization) and variable ratios between want satisfaction "and the ex- 
penditure of resources, and therefore, (2), requires a consideration of 



io ] Rationality c*f Monetary Accounting 8 9 

the volume and type of additional labor which the householder would 
have to expend to secure additional receipts and, (3), of the mode of 
utilization of the material expenditures if the goods to be procured can 
be of various types. It is one of the most important tasks of economic 
theory to analyse the various possible ways in which these evaluations 
can be rationally carried out. It is, en the other hand, a task for economic 
history to pursue the ways in which the budgetary management in 
physical terms has been actually worked out in the course of various 
historical epochs. In general, the following may be said: (1) that the 
degree of formal rationality has, generally speaking, fallen short of the 
level which was even empirically possible, to say nothing of the theoreti- 
cal maximum. As 3 matter of necessity, the calculations of money-less 
budgetary management have in the great majority of cases remained 
strongly bound to tradition. (2.) In the larger units of this type, precisely 
because an expansion and refinement of everyday wants has not taken 
place, there has been a tendency to employ surpluses for uses of a non- 
routine nature — above all, for artistic purposes. This is an important basis 
for the artistic, strongly stylized cultures of epochs with a "natural 
economy." 

1. The category of "wealth" includes more than physical goods. 
Rather, it covers all economic advantages over which the budgetary 
unit has an assured control, whether that control is due to custom, to 
the play of interests, to convention, or to law. The "good will" of a 
profit-making organization, whether it be a medical or legal practice, 
or a retail shop, belongs to the "wealth" of the owner if it is, for what- 
ever reason, relatively stable since, if it is legally appropriated, it can 
constitute "property" in the terms of the definition in ch. 1: 10 above. 

2. Monetary calculation can be found without the actual use of 
money or with its use limited to the settlement of balances which can- 
not be paid in kind in the goods being exchanged on both sides. 
Evidence of this is common in the Egyptian and Babylonian records. 
The use of money accounting as a measure for payments in kind is 

,. found in the permission in Hammurabi's Code and in provincial -. 
Roman and early Medieval law that a debtor may pay an amount 
due expressed in money "in whatever form he will be able" (in aw 
potnerit). The establishment of equivalents must in such cases have 
been carried out on the basis of traditional prices or of prices laid down 
by decree. 

3. Apart from this, the above discussion contains only common- 
places, which are introduced to facilitate the formulation of a precise 
concept of the rational budgetary unit as distinguished from that of a 
rational profit-making enterprise — the latter will be discussed presently. 
It is important to state explicitly that both can take rational forms. 
The satisfaction of needs; is not something more "primitive" than 
profit-seeking; "wealth" is not necessarily a more primitive category 



9 O SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION [ Ch. 11 

than capital; "income," than profit. It is, however, true that historically 
the budgetary unit has been prior and has been the dominant form in 
most periods of the past. 

4. It is indifferent what unit is the bearer of a budgetary manage- 
ment economy. Both the budget of a state and the family budget of a 
wr ker fall under the same category. 

5. Empirically the administration of budgetary units and profit- 
making are not mutually exclusive alternatives. The business of a 
consumers* cooperative, for instance, is normally oriented to the eco- 
nomical provision for wants; but in the form of its activity, it is a 
"profit-making organization" without being oriented to profit as a 
substantive end. In the action of an individual, the two elements may 
be so intimately intertwined, and in the past have typically been so, • 
that only the concluding act — namely, the sale or the consumption 

of the product — can serve as a basis for interpreting the meaning of the 
action. This has been particularly true of small peasants. Exchange may 
well be a part of the process of budgetary management where it is a 
matter of acquiring consumption goods by exchange and of disposing 
of surpluses. On the other hand, the budgetary economy of a prince 
or a landed lord may include profit-making enterprises in the sense of 
the following discussion. This has been true on a large scale in earlier 
times. Whole industries have developed out of the heterocephalous 
and heteronomous auxiliary enterprises which seigneurial landowners, 
monasteries, princes, etc., have established to exploit the products of 
their lands and forests. AH sorts of profit- ma king enterprises today are 
part of the economy of such budgetary units as local authorities or even 
states. In these cases it is legitimate to include in the "income" of the 
budgetary units, if they are rationally administered, only the net profits 
of these enterprises. Conversely, it is possible for profit-making enter- , 
prises to establish various types of heteronomous budgetary units under 
their direction for such purposes as providing subsistence for slaves 
or wage workers — among them are "welfare" organizations, housing and 
eating facilities. Net profits in the sense of point CO of this section are 
money surpluses after the deduction of all money costs. 

6. It Has been possible here to give only the most elementary 
starting points for analysing the significance of economic calculations 
in kind for general social development. 



1 1 , The Concept and Types of Profit-Making. The Role 
of Capital 

"Profit-making" QLTwerhen)™ is activity which is oriented to oppor- 
tunities for seeking new powers of control over goods on a single oc- 
casion, repeatedly, or continuously. "Profit-making activity" is activity 
which is oriented at least in part to opportunitie 1 ; of profit-making. Profit- 



1 1 ] Concept and Types of Profit-Making. Capital 9 1 

making is "economic" if it is oriented to acquisition by peaceful methods 
It may be oriented to the exploitation of market situations. "Means of 
profit-making" (ErwethsmitteV) are those goods and other economic ad- 
vantages which are used in the interests of economic profit-making. "Ex- 
change for profit" is that which is oriented to market situations in order to 
increase control over goods rather than to secure means for consumption 
(budgetary exchange). "Business credit" is that credit which is extended 
or taken up as a means of increasing control over the requisites of profit- 
making activity. 

There is a form of monetary accounting which is peculiar to rational 
economic profit-making; namely, "capital accounting." Capital accounting 
is the valuation and verification of opportunities for profit and of the 
success of profit-making activity by means of a valuation of the total 
assets (goods and money) of the enterprise at the beginning of a profit- 
making venture, and the comparison of this with a similar valuation of 
the assets still present and newly acquired, at the end of the process; in 
the case of a profit-making organization operating continuously, the 
same ts done for an accounting period. In either case a balance is drawn 
between the initial and final states of the assets. "Capital" is the money 
value of the means of profit-making available to the enterprise at the 
balancing of the hooks; "profit" and correspondingly "loss," the differ- 
ence between the initial balance and that drawn at the conclusion of the 
period. "Capital risk" is the estimated probability of a loss in this 
balance. An economic "enterprise" (Unternehmen) is autonomous 
action capable of orientation to capital accounting. This orientation takes 
place by means of "calculation"; ex-ante calculation of the probable risks 
and chances of profit, ex-post calculation for the verification of the actual 
pro^t or loss resulting. "Profitability" means, in the rational case, one of 
two things: (1) the profit estimated as possible by ex-snte calcu tions, 
the attainment of which is made an objective of the entrepreneur's ac- 
tivity; or (2) that which the ex-post calculation shows actually to have 
been earned in a given period, and which is available for the consump- 
tion uses of the entrepreneur without prejudice to his chances of future 
profitability. In both cases it is usually expressed in ratios — today, per- 
centages^ — in relation to the capital of the initial balance. 

Enterprises based on capital accounting may be oriented to the ex- 
ploitation of opportunities of acquisition afforded by the market, or they 
may be oriented toward other chances of acquisition, such as those based 
on power relations, as in the case of tax farthing or the sale of offices. 

Each individual operation undertaken by a rational profit-making 
enterprise is oriented to estimated profitability by rneans of calculation. 
In the case of profit-making activities on the market, capital accounting 



9 2 SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION [ Ck. II 

requires: (i) that there exist, subject to estimate beforehand, adequately 
extensive and assured opportunities for sale of the goods which the en- 
terprise procures; that is, normally, a high degree of marketability; (2) 
that the means of carrying on the enterprise, such as the potential means 
of production and the services of labor, are also available in the market 
at costs which can be estimated with an adequate degree of certainty; 
and finally, (3) that the technical and legal conditions, to which the 
process from the acquisition of the means of production to final sale, 
including transport, manufacturing operations, storage, etc., is subjected, 
give rise to money costs which in principle are calculable. 

The extraordinary importance of the highest possible degree of cal- 
culability as the basis for efficient capital accounting will be noted time 
and again throughout the discussion of the sociological conditions of 
economic activity. It is far from the case that only economic factors are 
important to it. On the contrary, it will be shown that the most varied 
sorts of external and subjective barriers account for the fact that capital 
accounting has arisen as a basic form of economic calculation only in the 
Western World. 

As distinguished from the calculations appropriate to a budgetary 
unit, the capital accounting and calculations of the market entrepreneur 
are oriented not to marginal utility, but to profitability. To be sure, the 
probabilities of profit are in the last analysis dependent on the income of 
consumption units and, through this, on the marginal utility structure of 
. the disposable money incomes of the final consumers of consumption 
goods. As it is usually put, it depends on their "purchasing power" for 
the relevant commodities. But from a technical point of view, the ac- 
counting calculations of a profit-making enterprise and of a consumption 
unit differ as fundamentally as do the ends of want satisfaction and of 
profit-making which they serve. Fox purposes of economic theory, it is 
the marginal consumer who detetaimes the direction of production. In 
actual fact, given the actual distribution of power, this is only true in a 
limited sense for the modern situation. To a large degree, even though 
the consumer has to be in a position to buy, his wants are "awakened" 
and "directed" by the entrepreneur. 

In a market economy every form of rational calculation, especially of 
capital accounting, is oriented to expectations of prices and their changes 
as they are determined by the conflicts of interests in bargaining and 
competition and the resolution of these conflicts. In profitabiuty^account- 
ing this is made particularly clear in that system of bookleeping which 
is (up to now) the most highly developed one from a technical point 
of view, in the so-called double-entry bookkeeping. Through a system 
of individual accounts the fiction is here created that different depart- 



1 1 ] Concept and Types of Profit-Making. Capital 9 3 

merits within an enterprise, or individual accounts, conduct exchange 
operations with each other, thus permitting a check in the technically 
most perfect manner on the profitability of each individual step or 
measure. 

Capital accounting in its formally most rational shape thus presup- 
poses the battle of man -with man. And this in turn involves a further 
very specific condition. No economic system can directly translate sub- 
jective "feelings of need" into effective demand, that is, into demand 
which needs to be taken into account and satisfied through the produc- 
tion of goods. For whether or not a subjective want can be satisfied de- 
pends, on the one hand, on its place in the scale of relative urgency; on 
the other hand, on the goods which are estimated to be actually or 
potentially available for its satisfaction.- Satisfaction does not take place 
if the utilities needed for it are applied to other more urgent uses, or if 
they either cannot be procured at all, or only by such sacrifices of labor 
and goods that future wants, which are still, from a present point of view, 
adjudged more urgent, could not be satisfied. This is triie of consump- 
tion in every kind of economic system, including a comnfunist one. 

In an economy which makes use of capital accounting and which 
is thus characterized by the appropriation of the means cf production by 
individual units, that is by "property" (see ch. I, sec. 10), profitability • 
depends on the prices which the "consumers," according 10 the marginal 
utility of money in relation to their income, can and will bfiy. It is possi- 
ble to produce profitably only for those consumers who, m; these terms, 
have sufficient income. A need may fail to be satisfied not fcfely when an 
individual's own demand for other goods takes precedence, hut also when 
the greater purchasing power of others for all types of goods prevails. 
Thus the fact that the batde of man against man on the Tnarjiet is an 
essential condition for the existence of rational money— accounting further 
implies that the outcome of the economic process is decisively influenced 
by the ability of persons who are more plentifully supplied with money to 
outbid the others, and of those more favorably situated for production to 
underbid their rivals on the selling side. The latter ate particularly those 
well supplied with goods essential to production or with money. In par- 
ticular, rational money-accounting presupposes the existence of effective 
prices and not merely of fictitious prices conventionally employed for* 
technical accounting purposes. This, in turn, presupposes money func- 
tioning as an effective medium of exchange, which is in demand as such, 
not mere tokens used as purely technical accounting units. 14 Thus die 
orientation of action to money prices and to profit .has the following 
consequences: (1) that the differences in the distribution of money or 
marketable goods between the individual parties in the market is de 



94 SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION [Ck. 11 

cisive in determining the direction taken by the production of goods, so 
* far as it is carried on by profit-making enterprises, in that it is only demand 
made effective through the possession of purchasing power which is and 
can be satisfied- Further, (2) the question, what type of demand is to 
be satisfied by the production of goods, becomes in rum dependent on 
the profitability of production itself. Profitability is indeed formally a 
rational category, but for that very reason it is indifferent with respect to 
substantive postulates unless these can make themselves felt in the 
market in the form of sufficient purchasing power. 

"Capital goods," as distinguished from mere possessions or parts of 
wealth of a budgetary unit, are all such goods as are administered on the 
basis of capital accounting. "Capital interest," as distinct from various 
other possible kinds of interest on loans, is: CO what is estimated to be 
the minimum normal profitability of the use of material means of profit- 
making, CO the rate of interest at which profit-making enterprises can 
obtain money or capital goods. 

This exposition only repeats generally known things in a some- 
what more precise form. For the technical aspects of capital accounting, 
compare the standard textbooks of accountancy, which are, in part, 
excellent. E.g. those of Leitner, Sch&r, etc. 

1. The concept of capital has been defined strictly with reference 
to the individual private enterprise and in Accordance with private 
business-accounting practice, which was, indeed, the most convenient 
method for present purposes. This usage is much less in conflict with 
everyday speech than with the usage which in the past was frequently 
found in the social sciences and which has by no means been consistent- 
In order to test the usefulness of the present business-accounting term, 
which is now being increasingly employed in scientific writings again, 
it is necessary only to ask the following que«ions: (1) What does it 
mean when we say that a corporation has a "basic capital" (net worth) 
of one miiiior pounds? And CO> what when we.tay that capital is 
"written down"? What, (3), when corporation law prescribes what ob- 
jects may be "brought in" as capital and in what manner? The first 
statement means that only that part of a surplus of assets over liabilities, 
as shown on the balance-sheet after proper inventory control and veri- 
fication, which exceeds one million pounds can he accounted as 
"profit" and distributed to the share-holders to do with as they please 
(or, in the case of a oneman enterprise, that only this excess can be 
consumed in the household). The second statement concerns a situa- 
tion where there have been heavy business losses, and means that the 
distribution of profit need not be postponed until perhaps after many 
years a surplus exceeding one million pounds has again been ac- 
cumulated, but that the distribution of "profits" may begin at a lower 
surplus. But in order to do this, it is necessary to "write down" the 
capital, and this is the purpose of the operation. Finally, the purpose 



1 1 ] Concept and Types of Profit-Making. Capital 9 5 

of prescriptions as to how basic capital (net worth, or ownership) can 
be "covered" through the bringing into the company of material assets, 
and how it may be "written up" or "written down," is to give creditors 
and purchasers of shares the guarantee that the distribution of profits 
will be carried cut "correctly" in accordance with the rules of rational 
business accounting, i.e., in such a way that Ca) long-run profitability 
is maintained and, (b), that the security of creditors is not impaired. 
The rules about "bringing in" are all concerned with the admissability 
and valuation of objects as paid-in capital. (4) What does it mean when 
we say that as ?. result of unprofitability capital "seeks different invest- 
ments"? Either we are talking about "wealth," for "investment" (A«- 
legen) is a category of the administration of wealth, not of profit- 
making enterprise. Or else, more rarely, it may mean that real capital 
goods on the one hand have ceased to be such by being sold, for in- 
stance as scrap or junk, and on the other have regained that quality in 
other uses. (5) What is meant when we speak of the "power of capital"? 
We mean that the possessors of control over the means of production 
and over economic advantages which can be used as capital goods in a 
profit-making enterprise enjoy, by virtue of this control and of the orien- 
tation of economic action to the principles of capitalistic business cal- 
culation, a specific position of power in relation to others. 

In the earliest beginnings of rational profit-making activity capital 
appears, though not under this name, and only as a sum of money used 
in accounting. Thus in the commenda relationship various types of 
goods were entrusted to a travelling merchant to sell in a foreign market 
and at times for the purchase of other goods wanted for sale at home. 
The profit or loss was then divided in a particular proportion between 
the travelling merchant and the entrepreneur who had advanced the 
capital. For for this to take place it was necessary to value the goods in 
money; that is, to strike balances at the beginning and the conclusion 
of the venture. The "capital" of the comittenda or the societas maris was 
simply this money valuation, which served only the purpose of settling 
accounts between the parties and no other. 

What do we mean by the term "capital market"? We mean that 
certain "goods," including in particular money, are in demand in order 
to be used as capital goods, and that there exist profit-making enter- 
prises, especially certain types of "banks," which derive their profit from 
the business of providing these goods. In the case of so-called "loan capi- 
tal," which consists in handing over money against a promise to return 
the same amount at a later time with or without the addition of interest, 
the term "capital" will be used only if lending is the object of a profit- 
making enterprise. Otherwise, the term "money loans" will be used. 
Everyday speech tends to talk about "capital" whenever "interest" is 
paid, because the latter is usually expressed as a percentage of the basic 
sum; only because of this calculatory function is the amount of a loan or 
a deposit called a "capital." It is true, of course, that this was the origin 
of the term: cafitale was the principal sum of a loan; the term is said, 



9 6 SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION [Ck. II 

though it cannot he proved, to derive from the heads counted in a loan 
of cattle. But this is irrelevant. Even in very early times a loan of real 
goods was reckoned in money terms, on which basic interest was then 
calculated, so that already here capital goods and capital accounting are 
typically related, as has been true in later times, In the case of an ordi- 
nary loan, which is made nmply as a phase in the administration of 
budgetary wealth and so far as it is employed for the needs of a 
budgetary unit, the term "loan capital" will not be used. The same, of 
course, applies to the recipient of the loari. 

The concept of an "enterprise" is in accord with the ordinary usage, 
except for the fact that the orientation to capital accounting, which is 
usually taken for granted, is made explicit. This is done in order to 
emphasize that not every case of search for profit as such constitutes an 
"enterprise," but only when it is capable of orientation to capital ac- 
counting, regardless of whether it is on a large or a small scale. At the 
same time it is indifferent whether this capital accounting is in fact 
rationally carried out according to rational principles. Similarly the terms 
"profit" and "loss" will be used only as applying to enterprises oriented 
to capital accounting. The money earned without the use of capital by 
such persons as authors, physicians, lawyers, civil servants, professors, 
clerks, technicians, or workers, naturally is also "acquisition" (.Erwerh*), 
but shall here not be called "profit." Even everyday usage would not call 
it profit. "Profitability" is a concept which is applicable to every dis- 
crete act which can be individually evaluated in terms of business 
accounting technique with respect to profit and loss, such as the employ- 
ment of a particular worker, me purchase of a new machine, the deter- 
mination ot rest periods in the working day, etc. 

It is not expedient in defining the concept of interest cm capital to 
start with contracted Interest returns on any type of loan. If somebody 
helps out a peasant by giving him seed and demands an increment on 
its return, or if the same is done in the case of money loaned to a house- 
hold to be returned with interest, we would hardly want to call this a 
"capitalistic" process. It is possible, where action is rational, for the 
lender to secure an additional amount because his creditor is in a posi- 
tion to expect benefits from the use of the loan greater than the amount 
of the interest he pays; when, that is, the situation is seen in terms of 
what it would be if he had to do without the loan. Similarly, the lender, 
being aware of the situation, is in a position to exploit it, in that for him 
the marginal utility of his present control over the goods he lends is 
exceeded by the marginal utility at the relevant future time of the 
repayment with the addition of the interest. These are essentially cate- 
gories of the administration of budgetary units and their wealth, not of 
capital accounting. Even a person who secures an emergency loan for 
his urgent personal needs from a "Shylock" is not for purposes of the 
present discussion said to be paying interest on capital, nor does the 
lender receive such interest It is rather a case of return for the loan. 
The person who makes a business of lending charges himself interest on 



1 1 ] Concept and Types of Profit-Making. Capital 9 7 

his business capital if he acts rationally, and must consider that he has suf- 
fered a "loss" if the returns from loans do not cover this rate of profita- 
bility. This interest we will consider "interest on capital"; the former is 
simply "interest." Thus for the present terminological purposes, interest 
on capital is always that which is calculated on capital, not that which 
is a payment for capital. It is always oriented to money valuations, and 
thus to the sociological fact that disposal over profit-making means, 
whether through the market or not, is in private hands; that is, appro- 
priated. Without this, capital accounting, and thus calculation of interest, 
would be unthinkable. 

In a rational profit-making enterprise, the interest, which is charged 
on the books to a capital sum, is the minimum of profitability. It is in 
terms of whether or not this minimum is reached that a judgment of 
the advisability of this particular mode of use of capital goods is arrived 
at. Advisability in this context is naturally conceived from the point of 
view of profitability. The rate for this minimum profitability is, it is well 
known, only approximately that which it is possible to obtain by giving 
credit on the capital market at the time. But nevertheless, the existence 
of the capital market is the reason why calculations are made on this 
basis, just as the existence of market exchange is the basis for making 
entries against the different accounts. It is one of the fundamental phe- 
nomena of a capitalistic economy that entrepreneurs are permanently 
willing to pay interest for loan capital. This phenomenon can only be 
explained by understanding bow it is that the average entrepreneur may 
hope in the long run to earn a profit, or that entrepreneurs on the 
average in fact do earn it, over and above what they have to pay as 
interest on loan capital — that is, under what conditions it is, on the 
average, rational to exchange 100 at the present against 100 plus X in 
the future. 

Economic theory approaches this problem in terms of the relative 
marginal utilities of goods under present and under future control. So 
far, so good. But the sociologist would then like to know in what human 
actions this supposed relation is reflected in such a manner that the 
actors can take the consequences- of this differential valuation [of pres- 
ent and future goods], in the form of an "interest rate," as a criterion 
for their own operations. For it is by no means obvious that this should 
happen at all times and places. It does indeed happen, as we know, in 
profit-making economic units. But here the primary cause is the eco- 
nomic power distribution QMachiiage) between profit-making enter- 
prises and budgetary units (households), both those consuming the 
goods offered and those offering certain means of production (mainly 
labor). Profit-making enterprises will be founded and operated continu- 
ously (capitaKstically) only if it is expected ^that the minimum rate of 
interest on capital can be earned. Economic theory — which could, bow- 
ever, also be developed along very different lines — might then very well 
say that this exploitation of the power distribution (which itself is a 
consequence of the institution or private property in goods and the 



9 8 SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION [ Ck. 11 

means of production) permits it only to this particular class of economic 
actors to conduct their operations in accordance with the "interest" cri- 
terion. 

2. The administration of budgetary "wealth" and profit-making en- 
terprises may he outwardly so similar as to appear identical. They are in 
fact in the analysis only distinguishable in terms of the difference in 
meaningful orientation of the corresponding economic activities. In the 
one case, it is oriented to maintaining and improving profitability and 
the market position of the enterprise; in the other, to the security and 
increase of wealth and income. It is, however, by no means necessary 
that this fundamental orientation should always, in a concrete case, be 
turned exclusively in one direction or the other; sometimes, indeed, this is - 
impossible. In cases where the private wealth of an entrepreneur is identi- 
cal with this business control over the means of production of his firm 
and his private income is identical with the profit of the business, the 
two things seem to go entirely hand in hand. But all manner of personal 
considerations may in such a case cause the entrepreneur to enter upon 
business policies which, in terms of the rationality of the conduct of 
enterprise, are irrational. Yet very generally private wealth and control 
of the business are not identical. Furthermore, such factors as personal 
indebtedness of the proprietor, his personal demand for a higher present 
income, division of an inheritance, and the like, often exert what is, in 
terms of business considerations, a highly irrational influence on the 
business. Such situations often lead to measures intended to eliminate 
these influences altogether, as in the incorporation of family businesses. 

The tendency to separate the sphere of private affairs from the busi- 
ness is thus not fortuitous. It is a consequence of the fact that, from the 
point of view of business interest, the interest in maintaining the private 
wealth of the owner is often irrational, as is his interest in income 
receipts at any given time from the point of view of the profitability of 
the enterprise. Considerations relevant to the profitability of a business 
are also not identical with those governing the private interests of per- 
sons who are related to it as workers or as consumers. Conversely, the 
interests growing out of the private fortunes and income of persons or 
organizations having powers of control over an enterprise do not neces- 
sarily lie in the same direction as the long-run considerations of optimiz- 
ing its profitability and its market power position. This is definitely, 
even especially, also true when a profit-making enterprise is controlled 
by a producers' co-operative association. The objective interests of 
rational management of a business enterprise and the persona! interest 
of the individuals who control it are by no means identical and are 
often opposed. This fact implies the separation as a matter of principle 
of the budgetary unit and the enterprise, even where both, with respect 
to powers of control and the objects controlled, are identical. 

The sharp distinction between the budgetary unit and the profit- 
making enterprise should also be clearly brought out in the terminology. 
The purchase of securities on the part of a private investor who wishes 



i z ] Concept and Types of Profit-Making. Capital 9 9 

to consume the proceeds is not a "capital- investment," but a "wealth' 
investment." A money loan made by a private individual for obtaining 
the interest is, when regarded from the standpoint of die lender, en- 
tirely different from one made by a bank to the same borrower. On the 
other hand, a loan made to a consumer and one to an entrepreneur for 
business purposes are quite different from the point of view of the bor- 
rower. The bant is investing capital and the entrepreneur is borrowing 
capital; but in the lirst case, it may be for the borrower a matter simply 
of borrowing fo* purposes of budgetary management; in the second it 
may be, for the lender, a case of investment of private wealth. This dis- 
tinction between private -wealth and capital, between the budgetary unit 
and the profit- nuking enterprise, is of far-reaching importance. In par- 
ticular, without it it is impossible to understand the economic develop- 
ment of the ancient world and the limitations on the development of the 
capitalism of those times. (The well-known articles of Rodbertus are, in 
spite of their errors and incompleteness, still important in this context, 
but should be supplemented by the excellent discussion of Karl 
Biicher.) 18 

3. By no means all profit-making enterprises with capital accounting 
1 are doubly oriented to the market in that they botb purchase means of 

production on the market and sell their product or-'iinal services there. 
Tax farming and all sorts of financial operations 'Have been carried on 
with capital accounting, but without selling any products. The very 
important consequences of this will be discussed later. It is a case of 
capitalistic profit-making which is not oriented to the market, 

4. For reasons of ' convenience, acquisitive activity (Erwerhstatigkeit) 
and profit-making enterprise (TLrwerbshetTieh*) have been distinguished. 
Anyone is engaged in acquisitive activity so far as he seeks, among other 
things, in given ways to acquire goods -money or others — which he 
does not yet possess. This includes the civil servant and the worker, no 
less than the entrepreneur. 'But the term "profit- making enterprise" will 
be confined to those types of acquisitive activity which are continually 
oriented to market advantages, using goods as means to secure profit, 
either (a) through the production and sale of goods in demand, or (b) 
through the offer of services in demand in exchange for money, be it 
through free exchange or through the exploitation of appropriated ad- 
vantages, as has been pointed out above under (3). The person who is 
a mere rentier or investor of private wealth is, in the present terminol- 
ogy, not engaged in profit-making, no matter how rationally he adminis- 
ters his resources. 

5. It goes without saying that in terms of economic theory the direc- 
tion in which goods can be profitably produced by profit-making enter- 
prises is determined by the marginal utilities for the last consumers in 
conjunction with the tatter's incomes. But from a sociological point of 
view it should not be forgotten that, to a large extent, in a capitalistic 
economy (a) new wants are created and others allowed to disappear and 
(b) capitalistic enterprises, through tbeir aggressive advertising policies, 



I O O SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION [ Ck. II 

exercise an important influence on the demand functions of consumers. 
Indeed, these are essential traits of a capitalistic economy. It is true that 
this applies primarily to wants which are not of the highest degree of 
necessity, hut even types of food provision and housing are importantly 
determined by the producers in a capitalistic economy. 



12. Calculations in Kind 

Calculations in kind can occur in the most varied form. We speak of 
a "money economy," meaning an economy where the use of money is 
typical and where action is typically oriented to market situations in 
terms of money prices. The term "natural economy" CNatundwinschafi), 
on the other hand, means an economy where money is not used. The 
different economic systems known to history can be classified according 
to the degree to which they approximate the one or the other. 

The concept "natural economy" is not, however, very definite, since 
it can cover systems with widely varying structures. It may mean (a) an 
economy where no exchange at all takes place or (b) one where exchange 
is only by barter, and thus money is not used as a medium of exchange. 
The first type may be an individual economic unit organized on a com- 
pletely communistic basis, or with some determinate distribution of 
rights of participation. In both cases, there would be a complete lack of 
autonomy or autocephaly of the component parts. This may l>e called a 
"closed household economy." Or, secondly, it may be a combination of 
otherwise autonomous and autocephalous individual units, all of which, 
however, are obligated to make contributions in kind to a central or- 
ganization which exists for the exercise of authority or as a communal 
institution. This is an "economy based on payments in kind" Coikos 
economy, "Iiturgically" organized political group). In both cases, so far 
as the pure type is conformed to, there is only calculation in kind. 

In the second case, type (b), where exchange is involved, there may 
be natural economies where exchange is only by barter without either 
the use of money or calculation in money terms. Or there may be econ- 
omies where there is exchange in kind, but where calculation is oc- 
casionally or even typically carried out in money terms. This was typical 
of the Orient in ancient times and has been common everywhere. 

For the purposes of analysing calculation in kind, it is only the cases 
of type (a) which are of interest, where the unit is either completely 
self-sufficient, or the liturgies- are produced in rationally organized per- 
manent units, such as would be inevitable in attempting to employ 
modern technology in a completely "socialized" economy. 



1 2 ] _ Calculations in Kind i o i 

Calculation in kind is in its essence oriented to consumption, the 

satisfaction of wants. It is, of course, quite possible to have something 
analogous to profit-making on this basis. This may occur (a) in that, 
without resort to exchange, available material means of production and 
labor are systematically applied to the production and transportation of 
goods on the basis of calculations, according to which the state of want 
satisfaction thus attained is compared with the state which would exist 
without these measures or if the resources were Used in another way, and 
thus a judgment as to the most advantageous procedure is arrived at. Or 
Cb) in a barter economy, goods may be disposed of and acquired by ex- 
change,-perhap in systematically repeated barters, though strictly with- 
' out the use of money. Such action would be systematically oriented to 
securing a supply of goods which, as compared with the state which 
would exist without these measures, is judged to establish a more ade- 
quate provision for the needs of the unit. It is, in such cases, only when 
quantities of goods which are qualitatively similar are compared that it 
is possible to use numerical terms unambiguously and without a wholly 
subjective valuation. It is possible, of course, to set up a system of in- 
kind wages consisting of typical bundles of consumer goods- (Koksww- 
Defutate), such as were the in-kind salaries and benefices particularly 
of tiis ancient Orient (where they even became objects of exchange 
transactions, similar to our government bonds). In the case of certain 
very homogenous commodities, such as the grain of the Nile valley, a 
system of storage and .trade purely in terms of paper claims to certain 
quantities of the commodity was of course technically just as possible 
as it is with silver bars under the conditions of fcawco-currencies." What 
is more important, it is in that case also possible to express the technical 
efficiency of a process of production in numerical terms and thereby 
compare it with other types of technical processes. This may be done, if 
the final product is the same, by comparing the relative requirements of 
different processes in both the quantity and the type of means of produc- 
tion. Or, where the means of production are the same, the different 
products which result from different production processes may be com- 
pared. It is often, ihough by no means always, possible in this way to 
secure numerical comparisons for the purposes of important, though sec- 
torally restricted, problems. But the more difficult problems of calcula- 
^ tion begin when it becomes a question of comparing different kinds of 
means of production, their different possible modes of use, and quali- 
tatively different final products. 

Every capitalistic enterprise is, to be sure, continually concerned with 
calculations in kind. For instance, given a certain type of loom and a 
certain quality of yarn, it is a question of ascertaining, given certain 



I O 2 SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION [ Ch. 11 

other relevant data such as the efficiency of machines, the humidity of 
the air, the rate of consumption of coal, lubricating oil, etc., what will be 
the product per hour per worker and thus the amount of the product 
which is attributable to any individual worker for each unit of time. For 
industries with typical waste products or by-products, this can be de- 
termined without any use of money accounting and is in fact so de- 
termined. Similarly, under given conditions, it is possible to work out, in 
technical terms without the use of money, the normally expected annual 
consumption of raw materials by the enterprise according to its technical 
production capacity, the depreciation period for buildings and machinery, 
the typical loss by spoiling or other forms of waste- But the comparison . 
of different kinds of processes of production, with the use of different 
kinds of raw materials and different ways of treating them, is carried out 
today by making a calculation of comparative profitability in terms of 
money costs. For accounting in kind, on the other hand, there are 
formidable problems involved here which are incapable of objective solu- 
tion. Though it does not at first sight seem to be necessary, a modern 
enterprise tends to employ money terms in its capital calculations even 
where such difficulties do not arise. But this is not entirely fortuitous. In 
the case of depreciation write-offs, for example, money accounting is used 
because this is the method of assuring the conditions of future produc- 
tivity of the business which combines the greatest degree of certainty 
with the greatest flexibility in relation to changing circumstances; with 
any storing of real stocks of materials or any other mode of provision in 
'kind such flexibility would be irrationally and severely impeded. It is 
difficult to see, without money accounting, how "reserves" could be built 
up without being specified in detail. Further, an enterprise is 'always 
faced with the question as to whether any of its parts is operating ir- 
rationally: that is, unprofitably, and if so, why. It is a question of de- 
termining which components of its real physical expenditures (that is, of 
the "costs" in terms of capital accounting) could be saved and, above 
all, could more rationally be used elsewhere. This can be determined 
with relative ease in an ex-post calculation of the relation between 
accounting "costs" and "receipts" in money terms, the former including 
in particular the interest charge allocated to that account. But it is ex- 
ceedingly difficult to do this entirely in terms of an in-kind calculation, 
and indeed it can be accomplished at all only in very simple cases. This, 
one may believe, is not a matter of circumstances which could be over- 
come by technical improvements in the methods of calculation, but of 
fundamental limitations, which make really exact accounting in terms 
of calculations in kind impossible in principle. 

It is true this might be disputed, though naturally not with arguments 



12 ] Calculations in Kind i o 3 

drawn from the Taylor system and from the possibility of achieving im- 
provements in efficiency by employing a system of bonus points without 
the use of money. The essential question is that of how it is possible £0 
discover at what -point in the organization it would be profitable to em- 
ploy such, measures because there existed at that point certain elements 
of irrationality. It is in finding out these points that accounting in kind 
encounters difficulties which an ex-post calculation in money terms does 
not have to contend with. The fundamental limitations of accounting in 
kind as the basis of calculation in enterprises— of a type which would 
include the bete rocephalous and heteronomous units of production in a 
planned economy — are to be found in the problem of imputation, which 
in such a system cannot take the simple form of an ex-post calculation of 
profit or loss on the books, but rather that very controversial form which 
it has in the theory of marginal utility. In order to make possible a ra- 
tional utilization of the means of production, a system of in-kind account- 
ing would have to determine "value"-indicators of some kind for the 
individual capital goods which could take over the role of the "prices" 
- used in book valuation in modern business accounting. But it is not at all 
clear how such indicators could be established and, in particular, verified; 
whether, for instance, they should vary from one production unit to the 
next (on the basis of economic location), or whether they should be 
uniform for the entire economy, on the basis of "social utility," that is, of 
(present and future") consumption requirements? 

Nothing is gained by assuming that, if only the problem of a non- 
monetary economy were seriously enough attacked, a suitable accounting 
method would be discovered or invented. The problem is fundamental 
to any kind of complete socialization. We cannot speak of a rational 
"planned economy" so long as in this decisive respect we have no instru- 
ment for elaborating a rational "plan," 

The difficulties of accounting in kind become more marked when the 
question is considered of whether, from the point of view of efficiently 
satisfying the wants of a given group of persons, it is rational to locate a 
certain enterprise with a given productive function at one or an alterna- 
tive site. The same difficulties arise if we want to determine whether a 
given economic unit, from the point of view of the most rational use of 
the labor and raw materials available to ft, would do better to obtain cer- 
tain products by exchange with other units or by producing them itself. 
It is true that the criteria for the location of industries consist of "natural!' 
considerations and its simplest data are capable of formulation in non- 
monetary terms. (On this' point, see Alfred Weber in the Grundriss der 
Sozialokonomik, Part IV [English ed.: The Theory of Location, trsl. 
C. J. Friedrich, Chicago 1929]). Nevertheless, the concrete determina- 



104 SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION [ Ol. II 

tidn of whether, according to the relevant circumstances of its particular 

location, a production unit with a given set of output possibilities or one 
with a different set would be rational, is in terms of calculation in kind 
capable of solution only in terms of very crude estimates, apart from the 
few cases where the solution is given by some natural peculiarity, such 
as a unique source of a raw material. But in spite of the numerous un- 
knowns which may be present, the problem in money terms is always 
capable of a determinate solution in principle. 

Finally, there is the independent problem of the comparative im- 
portance of the satisfaction of different wants, provision for which is, 
under the given conditions, equally feasible! In the last analysis, this 
problem is, in at least some of its implications, involved in every par- 
ticular case of^the calculations of a productive unit. Under conditions of 
money accounting, it has a decisive influence on profitability and thereby 
on the direction of production of profit-making enterprises. But where 
calculation is only in kind, it is in principle soluble only in one of two 
ways: by adherence to tradition or by an arbitary dictatorial regulation 
which, on whatever basis, lays down the pattern of consumption and 
enforces obedience. Even when that is resorted to, it still remains a fact 
that the problem of imputation of the part contributed to the total output 
of an economic unit by the different factors of production and by dif- 
ferent executive decisions is not capable of the kind of solution which is 
at present attained by calculations of profitability in terms of money. It 
is precisely the process of provision for mass demand by mass production 
so lypical of the present day which would encounter the greatest diffi- 
culties. 

i . The problems of accounting in kind have been raised in a par- 
ticularly penetrating form by Dr. Otto Neuratfi in his numerous works 20 
apropos of the tendencies to "socialization" in recent years. The prcfaiem 
is a central one in any discussion of complete socialization; that is, that 
which would lead to the disappearance of effective prices. It may, how- 
ever, be explicitly noted that the fact that it is incapable of rational solu- 
tion serves only to point out some of the "costs," including economic 
ones, which would have to be incurred for the sake. of enacting this type 
of socialism; however, this does not touch the question of the justifica- 
tion of such a program, so far as it does not rest on technical considera- 
tions, but, like most such movements, on ethical postulates or other forms 
of absolute value. A "refutation" of these is beyond the scope of any 
science. From a purely technical point of view, however, the possibility 
must be considered that the maintenance of a certain density of popu- 
lation within a given area may be possible only on the basis of accurate 
calculation- Insofar as this is true, a limit to the possible degree of lo- 
cialization would be set by the necessity of maintaining a system of 
effective prices. That cannot, however, be considered here. It miky be 
It is true this might be disputed, though naturally not with arguments 



12 ] Calculations in Kind i o 3 

drawn from the Taylor system and from the possibility of achieving im- 
provements in efficiency by employing a system of bonus points without 
the use of money. The essential question is that of how it is possible £0 
discover at what -point in the organization it would be profitable to em- 
ploy such, measures because there existed at that point certain elements 
of irrationality. It is in finding out these points that accounting in kind 
encounters difficulties which an ex-post calculation in money terms does 
not have to contend with. The fundamental limitations of accounting in 
kind as the basis of calculation in enterprises— of a type which would 
include the bete rocephalous and heteronomous units of production in a 
planned economy — are to be found in the problem of imputation, which 
in such a system cannot take the simple form of an ex-post calculation of 
profit or loss on the books, but rather that very controversial form which 
it has in the theory of marginal utility. In order to make possible a ra- 
tional utilization of the means of production, a system of in-kind account- 
ing would have to determine "value"-indicators of some kind for the 
individual capital goods which could take over the role of the "prices" 
- used in book valuation in modern business accounting. But it is not at all 
clear how such indicators could be established and, in particular, verified; 
whether, for instance, they should vary from one production unit to the 
next (on the basis of economic location), or whether they should be 
uniform for the entire economy, on the basis of "social utility," that is, of 
(present and future") consumption requirements? 

Nothing is gained by assuming that, if only the problem of a non- 
monetary economy were seriously enough attacked, a suitable accounting 
method would be discovered or invented. The problem is fundamental 
to any kind of complete socialization. We cannot speak of a rational 
"planned economy" so long as in this decisive respect we have no instru- 
ment for elaborating a rational "plan," 

The difficulties of accounting in kind become more marked when the 
question is considered of whether, from the point of view of efficiently 
satisfying the wants of a given group of persons, it is rational to locate a 
certain enterprise with a given productive function at one or an alterna- 
tive site. The same difficulties arise if we want to determine whether a 
given economic unit, from the point of view of the most rational use of 
the labor and raw materials available to ft, would do better to obtain cer- 
tain products by exchange with other units or by producing them itself. 
It is true that the criteria for the location of industries consist of "natural!' 
considerations and its simplest data are capable of formulation in non- 
monetary terms. (On this' point, see Alfred Weber in the Grundriss der 
Sozialokonomik, Part IV [English ed.: The Theory of Location, trsl. 
C. J. Friedrich, Chicago 1929]). Nevertheless, the concrete determina- 



104 SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION [ Ol. II 

tidn of whether, according to the relevant circumstances of its particular 

location, a production unit with a given set of output possibilities or one 
with a different set would be rational, is in terms of calculation in kind 
capable of solution only in terms of very crude estimates, apart from the 
few cases where the solution is given by some natural peculiarity, such 
as a unique source of a raw material. But in spite of the numerous un- 
knowns which may be present, the problem in money terms is always 
capable of a determinate solution in principle. 

Finally, there is the independent problem of the comparative im- 
portance of the satisfaction of different wants, provision for which is, 
under the given conditions, equally feasible! In the last analysis, this 
problem is, in at least some of its implications, involved in every par- 
ticular case of^the calculations of a productive unit. Under conditions of 
money accounting, it has a decisive influence on profitability and thereby 
on the direction of production of profit-making enterprises. But where 
calculation is only in kind, it is in principle soluble only in one of two 
ways: by adherence to tradition or by an arbitary dictatorial regulation 
which, on whatever basis, lays down the pattern of consumption and 
enforces obedience. Even when that is resorted to, it still remains a fact 
that the problem of imputation of the part contributed to the total output 
of an economic unit by the different factors of production and by dif- 
ferent executive decisions is not capable of the kind of solution which is 
at present attained by calculations of profitability in terms of money. It 
is precisely the process of provision for mass demand by mass production 
so lypical of the present day which would encounter the greatest diffi- 
culties. 

i . The problems of accounting in kind have been raised in a par- 
ticularly penetrating form by Dr. Otto Neuratfi in his numerous works 20 
apropos of the tendencies to "socialization" in recent years. The prcfaiem 
is a central one in any discussion of complete socialization; that is, that 
which would lead to the disappearance of effective prices. It may, how- 
ever, be explicitly noted that the fact that it is incapable of rational solu- 
tion serves only to point out some of the "costs," including economic 
ones, which would have to be incurred for the sake. of enacting this type 
of socialism; however, this does not touch the question of the justifica- 
tion of such a program, so far as it does not rest on technical considera- 
tions, but, like most such movements, on ethical postulates or other forms 
of absolute value. A "refutation" of these is beyond the scope of any 
science. From a purely technical point of view, however, the possibility 
must be considered that the maintenance of a certain density of popu- 
lation within a given area may be possible only on the basis of accurate 
calculation- Insofar as this is true, a limit to the possible degree of lo- 
cialization would be set by the necessity of maintaining a system of 
effective prices. That cannot, however, be considered here. It miky be 



iz] Calculations in Kind i o 5 

noted, though, that the distinction between "socialism" and "social re- 
form," if there is any such, should be made in these terms. 

2. It is naturally entirely'correct that mere money accounts, whether 
they refer to single enterprises, to any number of them, or to all enter- 
prises — indeed, even the most complete statistical information about the 
movement of goods in money terms — tell us nothing whatever about the 
nature of the real provision of a given group with what it needs; 
namely, real articles of consumption. Furthermore, the much discussed 
estimates of "national wealth" in money terms are only to be taken seri- 
ously so far as they serve fiscal en^.s; that is, as they determine taxable 
weakh. This stricture does not £pply, of course, in any similar degree 
to income statistics in money terms, provided the prices of goods in 
money are known. But even then there is no possibility of checking real 
welfare in terms of substantive rationality. It is further true, as has been 
convincingly shown for the case of extensive farming in the Roman 
campcgna by Sismondi and Sombart, 21 that satisfactory profitability, 
which in the camfagna existed for all participants, in numerous cases 
has nothing to do with an optimum use of the available productive re- 
sources for the provision of consumers' goods for a given population. 
The mode of appropriation, especially that of land (this much must be 
conceded to Franz Oppenheimer), 22 leads to a system of claims to rent 
and earnings of various kinds which may well obstruct permanently the 
development of a technical optimum in the exploitation of productive 
resources. This is, however, very far from being a peculiarity of capital- 
istic economies. In particular, the much-discussed limitation of produc- 
tion in the interest of profitability was very highly developed in the 
economy of the Middle Ages, and the modern lahor movement is ac- 
quiring a position of power which may lead to similar consequences. But 
there is no doubt that this phenomenon exists in the modem capitalistic 
economy. 

The existence of statistics (or estimates) of money Sows has not, as 
some writers have tended to give the impression, hindered the develop- 
ment of statistics of physical quantities. This is true, however much fault 
we may find with the available statistics when measured by ideal stand- 
ards. Probably more than nine-tenths of economic statistics are not in 
terms of money, but of physical quantities. 

The work of a whole generation of economists has been concentrated 
almost entirely on a critique of the orientation of economic action to 
profitability with respect to its effects on the provision of the population 
with real goods. All the work of the so-called "socialists of the lectern" 
(Kathedersozialisten) was, in the last analysis, quite consciously con- 
cerned with this. They have, however, employed as a standard of judg- 
ment a mode of social reform oriented to social welfare, implving (in ■ 
contrast to a moneyless economy) the continued existence of effective 
prices, rather than full socialization, as the only solution possible either 
at the present or at any time in an economy at the stage of mass produc- 
tion. It is, of course, quite possible to consider this merely a half- 
measure, but it is not in itself a nonsensical attitude. It is true that the 
problems of a non-monetary economy, and especially of the possibility 



I O 6 SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION f Ck. II 

of rational action in terms of calculations in kind, have not received 
much attention. Indeed most of the attention they have received has 
been historical and not concerned with present problems. But the World 
War, like* every war in history, has brought these problems emphati- 
cally to the fore in the form of the problems of war economy and the 
post-war adjustment. It is, indeed, one of the merits of Otto Neurath 
to have produced an analysis of just these problems, which, however 
much it is open to criticism both in principle and in detail, was one of 
the first and was very penetrating. That "the profession" has taken little 
notice of his work is not surprising because until now he has given us 
only stimulating suggestions, which are, however, so very broad that it 
is difficult to use them as a basis of intensive analysis. The problem only 
begins at the point where his public pronouncements up to date have 
left off. 

3. It is only with the greatest caution that the results and methods of 
war economy can be used as a basis for criticizing the substantive ration- 
ality of forms of economic organization. In wartime the Wiole economy 
is oriented to what is in principle a single clear goal, and the authorities 
are in a position to make use of powers which would generally not be 
tolerated in peace except in cases where the subjects are "slaves" of an 
authoritarian state. Furthermore, it is an economy with an inherent atti- 
tude of "going for broke": the overwhelming urgency of the immediate 
end overshadows almost all concern for the post-war economy. Only on 
the engineering level does preciseness of calculations exist, but economic 
constraints on the consumption, especially of labor and of all materials 
not directly threatened with exhaustion, are only of the roughest nature. 
Hence calculation has predominantly, though not exclusively, a techni- 
cal character. So far as it has a genuinely economic character — that is, so 
far as it takes account of alternative ends and not only of means for a given 
end— it is restricted to what is, from the standpoint of careful monetary 
calculation, a relatively primitive ievel of calculation on the marginal 
utility principle. In type this belongs to the class of budgetary calculations, 
and it is not meant to guarantee long-run rationality for the chosen alloca- 
tion of labor and the means of production. Hence, however illuminating 
the experience of war-time and post-war adjustments is for the analysis of 
the possible range of variation of economic forms, it is unwise to draw con- 
clusions from the type of in-kind accounting associated with it for its suit- 
ability in a peacetime economy with its long-run concerns. 

It may be freelv conceded: (O That it is necessary also in money 
accounting to make arbitrary assumptions in connection with means of 
production which have no market price. This is particularly common in 
the case of agricultural accounting; (2) that to a less extent something 
similar is true of the allocation of overhead costs among the different 
branches of a complicated enterprise; (3) that the formation of cartel 
agreements, no matter how rational their basis in relation to the market 
situation may be, immediately diminishes the stimulus to accurate cal- 
culation on the basis of capital accounting, because calculation declines 
in the absence of an enforced objective need for it. If calculation were 
in land, however, the situation described under (1) would be universal; 



12 ] Calculations in Kind 107 

any type of accurate allocation of overhead costs, which, however 
roughly, is now somehow achieved in money terms, would become im- 
possible; and, finally, every stimulus to exact calculation would be elimi- 
nated and would have to be created anew by artificial means, the effec- 
tiveness of which would be questionable. 

It has been suggested that the huge clerical staff of the private sector 
of the economy, which is actually to a large extent concerned with cal- 
culations, should be turned into a universal Statistical Office which 
would have the function of replacing the monetary business accounting 
of the present system with a statistical accounting in kind. This idea not 
only fails to take account of the fundamentally different motives under- 
lying "statistics" and "business accounting," it also fjils to distinguish 
their fundamentally different functions. They differ just like the bureau- 
crat differs from the entrepreneur, 

4. Both calculation in kind and in money are rational techniques. 
They do not, however, by any means exhaust die totality of economic 
action. There also exist types of action which, though actually oriented 
to economic considerations, do not know calculation. Economic action 
may be traditionally oriented or may be affectually determined. In its 
more primitive aspects, the search for food on the part of human beings 
' is closely related to that of animals, dominated as the latter is by in- 
stinct. Economically oriented action dominated by a religious faith, by 
war-like passions, or by attitudes of personal loyalty and similar modes 
of orientation, is likely to have a very low level of rational calculation, 
even though the motives are fully self-conscious. Haggling is excluded 
"between brothers," whether they be brothers in kinship, in a guild, or 
in a religious group. It is not usual to be calculating within a family, a 
group of comrades, or of disciples. At most, in cases -of necessity, a rough 
sort of rationing is resorted to, which is a very modest beginning of cal- 
culation. In Part Two, ch. IV, the process by which calculation gradually 
penetrates into the earlier form of family communism will be taken u^ 
Everywhere it has been money which was the propagator of calculation. 
This explains the fact that calculation in kind has remained on an even 
lower technical level than the actual nature of its problems might have 
necessitated; hence in this respect Otto Neurath appears to be right. 

During the printing of this work an essay by Ludwig von Mises 
dealing with these problems came out. See his "Die Wirtschaftsrech- 
nung im sozialistischen Gemeinwesen," Arckiv fur Soziahmssenschaft, 
vol. 47(1920).** 



13. Substantive Conditions of Formal Rationality in a , 
Money Economy 

It is thus clear that the formal rationality of money calculation is 
dependent on certain quite specific substantive conditions. Those which 
are of a particular sociological importance for present purposes are the 



I O 8 SOCIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES OF ECONOMIC ACTION [ Ck. II 

following: (O Market struggle of economic units which are at least rela- 
tively autonomous. Money prices are the product of conflicts of interest 
and of compromises; they thus result from power constellations. Money 
is not a mere "voucher for unspecified utilities," which could be altered 
at will without any fundamental effect on the character of the price sys- 
tem as a struggle of man against man. "Money" is, rather, primarily a 
weapon in this struggle, and prices are expressions of the struggle; they 
are instruments of calculation only as estimated quantifications of relative 
chances in this struggle of interests. (2) Money accounting attains the 
highest level of rationality, as an instrument of calculatory orientation of 
economic action, when it is applied in the form of capital accounting. ^ 
The substantive precondition here is a thorough market freedom, that is, 
the absence of monopolies, both of the imposed and economically irra- 
tional and of the voluntary and economically rational (i.e., market- 
oriented) varieties. The competitive struggle for customers, which is 
associated with this state, gives rise to a great volume of expenditures, 
especially with regard to the organization of sales and advertising, which 
in the absence of competition — in a planned economy or under complete 
monopolization — would not have to be incurred. Strict capital account- 
ing is further associated with the social phenomena of "shop discipline" 
and appropriation of the means of production, and that means: with the 
existence of a "system of domination" (Hemchaftsverhiiltniss). (3) It is 
not "demand" (wants) as such, but "effective demand" for utilities which, 
in a substantive respect, regulates the production of goods by profit- 
making enterprises through the intermediary of capital accounting. 
What is to be produced is thus determined, given the distribution of 
wealth, by the structure of marginal utilities in the income group which 
has both the inclination and the resources to purchase a given utility. 
In combination with the complete indifference of even the formally 
most perfect rationality of capital accounting towards all substantive 
postulates, an indifference which is absolute if the market is perfecdy 
free, the above statement permits us to see the ultimate limitation, in- 
herent in its very structure, of the rationality of monetary economic 
calculation. It is, after all, of a purely formal character. Formal and 
substantive rationality, no matter by what standard the latter is measured, 
are always in principle separate things, no matter that in many (and 
under certain very artificial assumptions even in all) cases they may 
coincide empirically. For the formal rationality of money accounting does 
not reveal anything about the actual distribution of goods. This must 
always be considered separately. Yet, if the standard used is that of the 
provision of a certain minimum of subsistence for the maximum size of 
population, the experience of the last few decades would seem to show 



13 ] Substantive Conditions of Formal Rationality i o 9 

that formal and substantive rationality coincide to a relatively high 
degree. The reasons lie in the nature of the incentives which are set into 
motion by the type of economically oriented social action which alone is 
adequate to money calculations. But it nevertheless holds true under all 
circumstances that formal rationality itself does not tell us anything about 
real want satisfaction unless it is combined with an analysis of the dis- 
tribution of income." 

Gurvitch fő művének tartalma

010.208
GURVITCH, Georges
Déterminismes Sociaux et Liberté Humaine: vers l’étude sociologique des cheminements de la liberté
introduction 1
PREMIÈRE PARTIE
LE PROBLÈME GÉNÉRAL DU DÉTERMINISME LES DEGRÉS PRINCIPAUX DE LA LIBERTÉ HUMAINE
chapitre premier. — La relativité des déterminismes et leur multiformité 15
I. — L’Etat Actuel de la Discussion 15
II. — Ce que le Déterminisme n’est pas 19
III. — Essai de Définition du Concept de Déterminisme 28
IV. — Les Principaux Procédés Techniques du Déterminisme A) Lois Causales, 41 ; B) Lois d’Evolution, 45 ; C) Lois Fonctionnelles, 48 ; D) Lois Statistiques et Calcul des Probabilités, 51 ; E) Causalité Singulière, 55 ; Figures, 62-63 ; F) Covariations et Corrélations. Fonctionnelles. Régularités Tendancielles. Intégrations Directes dans des Ensembles, 63. 41
chapitre II. — La liberté humaine et ses principaux degrés 68
I. — Ce que la Liberté Humaine n’est pas 68
II. — Ce que la Liberté Humaine n’est pas exclusivement 73
III. — Ce qu’est la Liberté Humaine 81
IV. — Les Degrés de la Liberté Humaine 84
DEUXIÈME PARTIE
LES DÉTERMINISMES PARTIELS RÉGISSANT LA RÉALITÉ SOCIALE ET LA LIBERTÉ HUMAINE
première section
Les déterminismes sociaux astructurels
remarques preliminaires 99
chapitre premier. — Les Déterminismes Sociaux Unidimensionnels 103
I. — Le Déterminisme de la Surface Morphologique et Ecologique 104
II. — Le Déterminisme Uni-dimensionnel du Palier Organisé 113
III. — Le Déterminisme des Modèles, Règles, Signaux, Signes et Conduites d’une Certaine Régularité 120
IV. — Le Déterminisme des Rôles Sociaux et des Attitudes Collectives 126
V. — Le Déterminisme des Symboles, des Idées, des Valeurs  Collectifs, et plus largement des Œuvres Culturelles 133
VI. — Le Déterminisme de la Mentalité Collective 141
chapitre II. — Les Micro-déterminismes Sociaux 148
deuxième section
Les déterminismes soclologiques partiels
chapitre premier. — Les Déterminismes des Groupements Particuliers 163
chapitre II. — Le Déterminisme Sociologique Propre aux Classes Sociales 178
TROISIÈME PARTIE
LES DÉTERMINISMES SOCIOLOGIQUES GLOBAUX ET LA LIBERTÉ HUMAINE
chapitre premier. — Typologie des Structures Globales 191
chapitre II. — Les Quatre Types de Structures Sociales Globales dites Archaïques. Les Déterminismes qui leur correspondent. Les chances offertes à la Liberté Humaine 200
chapitre III. — Les Six Types de la Structure Sociale dite Civilisée ou Historique; leurs Déterminismes Spécifiques. La Sociologie de la Liberté Humaine 223
I. — Les Théocraties Charismatiques et leur Déterminisme Sociologique Global 224
II. — Les Sociétés dites Patriarcales et leur Déterminisme Global 231
III. — Les Sociétés Féodales et leur Déterminisme Global 237
IV. — Les Structures Globales où prédominent des Cités-Etats devenant Empires. Leur Déterminisme Spécifique 250
V. — Les Structures Sociales Globales donnant naissance à l’Absolutisme Eclairé et aux Débuts du Capitalisme.             Le Déterminisme Sociologique de ces Structures 262
VI. — Les Structures Sociales Globales Démocratico-Libérales  correspondant au Capitalisme Concurrenciel Développé. Leur Déterminisme Spécifique 273
conclusion. — Les types de structures globales en lutte dans la société présente et leur déterminisme spécifique. Les chances de l’intervention de la liberté humaine 283
I. — Société Dirigiste Correspondant au Capitalisme Organisé  Pleinement Développé 283
II. — Société Fasciste Correspondant à la Structure Globale Techno-Bureaucratique 284
III. — La Société Planifiée selon les Principes de l’Etatisme Collectiviste 285
IV. — La Société Planifiée selon les Principes du Collectivisme             Pluraliste 286
V. — Le Déterminisme Global correspondant à ces Structures 287
VI. — Les Chances de l’Intervention de la Liberté Humaine 292
topo

A történetírás elmélete Carr, és Burke műveiben

(Gyóni Gábor: A történetírás fogalmi alapjairól. Bevezetés a társadalomtörténetbe. Támop 4.2.5 pályázat könyvei. Részlet.)

Edward H. Carr Mi a történelem? című, eredetileg 1961-ben publikált előadás-sorozata  az egyedüli hivatkozási alap e fogalmi bevezető fejezethez, ami kellően indokolja, hogy bemutassuk a könyv fő témáit és téziseit. Nem kívánjuk azonban egyúttal mérlegre is tenni e negyvenéves munka értékeit, a hazai szakkritika ezt a munkát már egyébként is elvégezte … Az vezet bennünket, hogy megpróbáljuk érzékeltetni: milyen komoly átalakuláson esett át az utóbbi évtizedekben a történetírás elméleti problémaköre. Ennek fényében tárgyaljuk majd mindazon kérdéseket, melyek részben vagy kimerítőbben Carr könyvében is felmerülnek.

1. A könyv egyik legérdekesebb, s bizonnyal legidőtállóbb felvetése a történeti tény megközelítését illeti. Az angol historikus azon az állásponton van, hogy a történész tényei nem csak afféle adottságok, melyek közvetlenül a források adataiból fakadnak. A tény, véli Carr, lényegében maga is konstrukció, amely a történetíró saját alkotása. „A történelmi tény státusa, írta, az értelmezés függvénye. Az értelmezésnek ez az eleme minden történelmi ténybe bekerül” (Carr 1995, 12).

2. Az előbbiekkel szoros összefüggésben megállapítja, a történetírás nem törvényeket állapít meg, hanem pusztán hipotéziseket állít elő, melyeket azután igyekszik igazolni. A történetírás olyan szellemi művelet tehát, melynek folyamán a „tényeket értelmezéseik hálóján szűrik át, értelmezéseiket pedig a tények próbájának vetik alá” (Carr 1995, 58).

3. Innen ered, hogy mivel Carr a történészt nem tekinti többé történelmen kívüli, vagy történelem feletti megismerőnek, úgy határozza meg tehát, mint aki nyakig benne van saját kora társadalmi és szellemi világában. Ennek folytán „csak akkor tudjuk maradéktalanul megérteni és méltányolni a történész munkáját, ha világosan látjuk, milyen álláspontról közelítette meg a témát; […] ez az álláspont maga is adott társadalmi és történelmi talajban gyökerezik” (Carr 1995, 37).

4. Közvetlenül ez utóbbinak felel meg azon újabb elgondolása, amely erősen emlékeztet a prezentizmus történetírói programjára, de némiképp a filozófiai hermeneutika álláspontjára is. Hiszen nem hagy kétséget aziránt, hogy: „A múlt csak a jelen fényében érthető; és a jelent csak a múlt fényében érthetjük meg teljesen” (Carr 1995, 51). Carr ezen felfogását mégsem nevezhetjük közvetlenül hermeneutikusnak, hiszen a múltbeli események és a jövőbe mutató célok közt folyó dialógust szerzőnk az objektív megismerés perspektívájába állítja. A jelen, helyesebben a jövő felől feltárulkozó múlt ugyanis, Carr szerint, a múlt egyre igazabb megismerését eredményezi. A történész annál jobban tudatában van annak, hogy mi is történt valójában a múltban, minél tisztábban maga előtt látja a múlt kései következményeit, azt, mellyel éppen a maga jelenében szembesül. Nem az tehát a helyzet, hogy folyton mást tud meg ugyanarról a múltról, hanem szüntelenül jobban tudja, hogy mi történt korábban.

5. Ez a hermeneutika irányába mutató, ám adott ponton túl attól végül elkanyarodó koncepció Carr történelmi haladásról és fejlődésről táplált elképzeléséből fakad. A történelem, amely szüntelen változás, lényegénél fogva kumulatív folyamat, tehát haladás és fejlődés. A változás mint haladás azt jelenti, hogy „a szerzett képességek nemzedékről nemzedékre átadódnak” vagyis a puszta természeti evolúciótól eltérően a történelem során „az elsajátított ‘vagyon’ kerül átadásra”. Ezen azt érti, hogy a történelemben az ember egyre inkább szert tesz „a természet feletti uralom képességére, mely a történelmet a haladás történetévé tette” (Carr 1995, 125). Ebből fakad a történeti megismerés úgyszintén kumulatív jellege, ami megalapozza a történeti tudás folytonos tökéletesedését. „A történész aszerint értelmezi a múltat, és aszerint válogatja ki a jelentős és meghatározó elemeket, hogy a dolgok milyen új célok felé haladnak” (Carr 1995, 118). Következésképpen: a történetírás maga is elkerülhetetlenül fejlődik, hiszen „egyre átfogóbb és mélyebb betekintést [nyújt] az események menetébe, mely maga is haladó” (Carr 1995, 119).

6. A történetírás tehát Carr szerint kétségkívül tudomány, ha nem is felel meg maradéktalanul a természettudományoknak. Tudomány voltát bizonyítja, hogy képes és alkalmas a tudás általános fogalmának a megalkotására. „A történeti művek olvasója – és írója – megrögzött általánosító, hisz a történész észrevételeit általa jól ismert történeti kontextusokba – vagy esetleg saját korába helyezi” (Carr 1995, 60). Igaz: a történetírás valamelyest elüt a szcientikus megismerési módoktól, hiszen (amint a tény konstruálása kapcsán is kiderül), nem egészen mentes az értékítéletektől. Bár nem feladata a történésznek, hogy erkölcsi ítéletet mondjon elmúlt korok egyéneiről, teljesen azonban nem kerülheti el azt, mivel éppen „ezek az ítéletek teszik a történészt azzá, ami” (Carr 1995, 73), mert a történeti értelmezés elkerülhetetlenül erkölcsi ítélkezéssel, értékítélettel jár együtt. Fontos viszont, hogy az ítélkezés nem valamilyen elvont, történelem feletti mérce alapján történik. „A komoly történész tudatában van annak, hogy az értékek jellege a történelmi körülmények függvénye, azt a történészt pedig, aki úgy állítja be, mintha az általa vallott értékek történelmen túli objektivitással bírnának, nem szabad komolyan venni” (Carr 1995, 79).

7. A történetírás tudományosságát támasztja alá végül az is, hogy magyarázataiban a historikus a kauzalitás elvét érvényesíti. Nincs igaza azoknak a teoretikusoknak, mindenekelőtt Berlinnek (Berlin 1990, 181) és Poppernek (Popper 1989), akik szerint a kauzalitás elve történelmi determinizmust szül, mert kiiktatja a történelem hajtóerői közül a szabad akaratot. Carr inkább ahhoz tartja magát, hogy bár mindig jelen vannak a hatóokok, ám korántsem egyforma a súlyuk. Az okok hierarchiájában különbséget lát a racionális és a véletlenszerű okok között. A történész azt az okot fogadja el racionálisnak, amely hézagmentesen illeszkedik a racionális magyarázat és értelmezés általa alkalmazott rendszerébe. Ennek során rendszerint az vezeti, hogy milyen, az adott kauzális eseménysor keretein túlmutató okok alkalmasak az általánosítás céljára, a tanulságok levonására.

8. Carr szerint megváltozóban van a történész helyzete korunkban, mivel egyszeriben kitágult a történetírás horizontja. Hegel nyomán eddig ahhoz tartotta magát a történész, hogy tárgyát lehetőleg az államépítő, tehát a történelmileg tudatos népekre korlátozza. Ma viszont megszűnőben van ez a fajta korlát. „Napjainkban van először realitása annak, hogy a világot olyan népek összességének tekintsük, melyek minden tekintetben beléptek a történelembe, és már nem a gyarmati hivatalnok vagy az antropológus, hanem a történész érdeklődésének tárgyát képezik” (Carr, 1995, 142).

A politikatörténész Carr, aki a Szovjetunió történetét kutatta, nem túl sok elméleti érzékenységet mutatott kora fentieken túli kurrens historiográfiai fejleményei iránt. Ennek a számlájára írhatjuk, hogy már akkoriban is, amikor Carr a könyvét írta, a nagy súllyal jelen lévő struktúratörténet (a francia Annales) teljesen figyelmen kívül marad az inkább a marxista társadalomkép hatásáról tanúskodó áttekintésben.

Merőben másfajta meghatározottságok hatottak a szintén angol Peter Burke elméleti orientációjára. A kora újkori Európa kultúrtörténetének nemzetközileg kimagasló szakértőjeként számon tartott cambridge-i historikus nem véletlenül tér újra és újra vissza a tisztán elméleti kérdésfelvetésekhez. A történeti-antropológia egyik legkvalitásosabb művelőjeként Burke-nek ugyanis égetően nagy szüksége van az elméleti tájékozódásra, mivel a társtudományok és kivált az elméleti támpontokkal is szolgáló teoretikus diszciplínák alapozzák meg számára az empirikus vizsgálódásokat.

A történetírás és az elmélet (helyesebben az elméletek) viszonyának áttekintését ötféle megközelítésben taglalja. Elsőként felvázolja azt a folyamatot, melynek során a történetírásról levált az elméleti érdeklődés. Ennek lett máig érvényes eredménye, hogy a szociológia elméletileg tudatos tudományként egyáltalán intézményesülhetett a 20. században, miközben elvesztette történeti affinitásának a maradékát is. Számos egyéb társadalomtudomány is ezen az úton haladt tovább. Így jött létre a pszichológia mint kísérleti tudomány, amely egyúttal átvette a természettudományos munkamódszereket és magáévá tette azok megismerési eszményeit; így önállósult a közgazdaság-tudomány, melynek szcientizálódása a matematikai közgazdaságtannal teljesedett ki. Végül pedig mind a pszichológia, mind a közgazdaságtan tudatosan szakított a történeti szemlélettel.

A történetírásban az újraéledő elméleti tájékozódás (és egyes társtudományok ezzel párhuzamosan erősödő történeti tudatossága) mint merőben új fejlemény kifejezetten a társadalomtörténet előtérbe kerülésének a következménye. E folyamat mai végpontján olyan multidiszciplináris hatású történészek, szociológusok, antropológusok és filozófusok állnak, mint Fernand Braudel, Mihail Bahtyin, Pierre Bourdieu, Norbert Elias, Michel Foucault vagy Clifford Geertz. Ok és rajtuk kívül még számosan a legnevesebb képviselői annak a humán és társadalomtudományi látásmódnak, amely közvetlen kapcsolatot képes teremteni egyfelől az elmélet és a történelem, másfelől a történetírás és a többi ember és társadalomtudomány között. Burke szerint az összehasonlítás, a modellalkotás és típusképzés, a kvantifikáció, s végül a vizsgálat méreteinek a lekicsinyítése, a társadalmi mikroszkópia (a mikrotörténet) képezi ezen elméletileg orientált történetírás legfontosabb eszköztárát. Az összehasonlítást tudatos programként a francia Annales történészei tűzték elsőként napirendre, napjainkban viszont a makrotörténettel foglalkozók körében vált közkedvelt eljárássá. Amilyen nagy hasznot hajthat a komparáció a megismerés számára, legalább annyi veszélyt is rejt magában. A nyomában felvetődő dilemmák közé sorolja Burke, hogy a komparáció éppoly jól igazolhatja az evolúciót problémátlanul elfogadó történetszemléletet, mint a csupán analógiás alapokon nyugvó (és korántsem valóban történeti) funkcionalizmust, amely a szociológiában és az antropológiában számított egy időben mérvadónak.

A modellalkotás és a típusképzés mindig részét alkotta a történész módszertani arzenáljának, mégha a historikus nem is mindig volt ennek a tudatában. Újabban viszont megnőtt ezen eljárások fokozott és tudatos igénybevétele iránt az igény. Ennek jó példája a Max Weber-féle ideáltípus fogalma, vagy a Csajanov-féle paraszti családi gazdaság modell mind gyakoribb történetírói hasznosítása. Ha még továbbra is fennmaradt némi ellenszenv a történészek részéről e fogalmak iránt, az főként abból táplálkozik, hogy közülük egyesek, talán nem is kevesen gondolják úgy: a modellek alkalmazása gátja lehet a történelmi változások dinamikus megjelenítésének.

A kvantifikáció az 1960-as és 1970-es években élte virágkorát a történészek berkeiben: mindenekelőtt a gazdaságtörténet és a történeti demográfia adott hozzá megfelelő táptalajt. A számszerűsítés, a mérés módszere a mentalitás és a viselkedés kulturális jellegű történeti megközelítésébe is behatolt. Végül azután éppen erről az oldalról érte felettébb éles bírálat a kvantifikálást, miután megkérdőjelezték e módszerek egyedül üdvözítő tudományos voltát …

Az olasz microstoria, az angolszász történeti antropológia és a többi velük rokon törekvés célja az időben és térben teljesen konkrét, kis társadalmi egységekre, olykor az egyes egyénre szűkített (s gyakorta esettanulmányként előadott) történeti ábrázolás narratív megjelenítése. Nem a globális összefüggések elméleti fogalmak segítségével történő rekonstruálása, hanem az a mikrotörténeti érdeklődés tárgya, hogy milyen volt a múltban élt emberek tényleges élettapasztalata és életvilága. Mindezek történetírói megközelítése módszertani és episztemológiai problémák sokaságát szüli (mint amilyen a történelem trivializálása, a történeti igazság relativizálása és egyúttal romantizálása), amely széles körű és heves viták forrása manapság is.

Központi fogalmak címszó alatt Burke áttekinti a szerinte elméletileg ma legfontosabb kutatási témákat és kategóriákat. A 18 témából és fogalomból hadd emeljem ki a családot és rokonságot, a közösséget és identitást, a szexualitást és társadalmi nemet (gender), a fogyasztást és szimbolikus tőkét, a kommunikációt és befogadást, a hegemóniát, az ellenállást és a társadalmi mozgalmakat (collective action), a gyámkodást és korrupciót, a mentalitást és ideológiát, a szóbeliséget és textualitást, a reciprocitást és a mítoszt. Fontos, hogy ezek a témák és releváns fogalmak minden esetben egy-egy társadalomtudománynak képezik szerves részét, ezért nem vagy csak áttételesen lehet átjárni egyik történeti diskurzusból a másikba. E szerteágazó témakörök és analitikus kategóriák annyira függetlenek egymástól, hogy egyedül rájuk építve ma már lehetetlennek tűnik az egységes történelem fogalma vagy puszta víziója is.

Kérdés most már, hogy a máshonnan kölcsönzött terminusok és tárgykörök nem zilálják-e szét menthetetlenül az intakt módon átörökített szellemi hagyományokat. Ennek kapcsán azzal a feszültséggel is foglalkozik a szerző, melynek fő oka, hogy eltérő előfeltevéseket (és változatos nyelvet) csempésznek be a történetírásba. Három ebből adódó konfliktust tárgyal közelebbről: a funkció (struktúra) és a cselekvés (emberi ágens) között, a felépítményként tekintett kultúra (tudat) és a történelemben aktív erőként meghatározott kultúra (a kulturális antropológia értelmében vett kultúra) között, valamint a történetírás (s persze a szociológia, az antropológia) „tényeket” szolgáltató tudományossága és az aközött a nézet között keletkező konfliktust, amely a történetírás szövegeit fikcióként határozza meg.

Burke szerint a funkció fogalmát ma már aligha nélkülözheti a történetírás. Sok veszéllyel jár viszont az a hallgatólagos feltételezés, annak az elvnek az elfogadása, hogy minden, ami létezik, funkcionálisan elengedhetetlenül szükséges. Ha ez igaz lenne, nem tudnánk megmagyarázni a változás képességét. A funkcionális elemzés mindig a struktúrákról és nem pedig az egyes emberekről beszél. A struktúrának viszont legalább három egymástól elütő fogalma van ma forgalomban: a marxista, a strukturális-funkcionalista, illetve a strukturalista felfogás szerinti. A marxista koncepciónak a szerző később külön is bő figyelmet szentel. A fogalom funkcionalista meghatározása a struktúrát intézmények összetett rendszereként posztulálja, ahol az intézmények funkcionálisan kapcsolódnak egymáshoz és hierarchiát alkotnak. A strukturalista szemlélet ugyanakkor elsőrendűen a kultúra rendszereiként hivatkozik a struktúrára, és a társadalom ekkor nyelvi-kulturális entitásként nyer meghatározást.

A strukturalizmus, s kivált a posztstrukturalizmus nyomdokain haladva a kultúra fogalma kerül a figyelem középpontjába. Ez azt is eredményezi, hogy kezd elmosódni tény és fikció korábban egyértelműnek tűnő különbsége. Amíg a posztstrukturalizmus szemléleti megalapozásában Michel Foucault episztemológiai munkásságának van nagy szerepe, addig a történetírás mint egyfajta narratív műfaj elméleti kimunkálásában Hayden White szerzett magának elévülhetetlen érdemeket.

Ezt követően Burke számba vesz néhány hatásos elméleti konstrukciót, melyek kifejezetten a történelmi változás konceptualizálását szolgálják, úgymint Herbert Spencer evolúcióelméletét, valamint Marxnak az evolúciót a revolúcióval elegyítő koncepcióját. Majd felteszi a kérdést: létezik-e egy, a kettőt integrálni képes harmadik elmélet? Az újabb elméletalkotó történészek (és szociológusok) elképzeléseit tekinti át e célból és közülük kiemeli Anthony Giddens, Michael Mann, valamint Charles Tilly próbálkozásait. Bár szembeszökő különbségek is akadnak elképzeléseik között, a történelmi változás magyarázata végett kidolgozott elméleteik fókuszába mindegyikőjüknél végül a hatalom került. Ezek szerint a kora újkorban a háborúk és a politika a történelmi jelentőségű változások motorja, s végső soron a nemzetállam politikai akarata szabta meg a dolgok alakulását.

Burke, Peter: History and Social Theory. 1992 Oxford

Carr Edward Halett. Mi a történelem? Budapest, 1995.

Some contemporary additions to my 1998 paper on integration

The paper in question:

https://foldeskaroly.wordpress.com/2016/12/27/my-1998-paper-on-integration

Seven pages of statistical data linked below were appended to the 14-page paper. Some additional oral remarks to the written text included the following.

Was the surgery of transition a rational choice? In a most important sense there was not any choice. The surgery was indispensable for an adjustment to the conditions of survival in a global economy. But there were also several destructive adjustment processes. The surgery might have been done in a better way. Actually, some healthy tissues were cut off that meant negative discontinuity. Some sick organs were left intact that meant negative continuity. Nevertheless, the improvement is significant. Hungary is among the leaders in speed of economic-social-political transformation. The leaders in change are also leaders in growth.

The changeover occurs high costs. The new members will be unable to abide by the Maastricht criteria for a middle-long period of time.The advanced part of Europe may slow down the process of transformation or may speed it up. Recently the Community is allocating its transfers mainly to its old member states. The Community seems to be unwilling to invest more into its prospective new members because of the vested interests of net receivers in countries having adhered to the Community in previous expansions. But with some more (additional) allocations to new members a support multiplicator would work and induce more national accumulation and international private capital influx. As far as EU assistance is limited, new members should be allowed to reach European conditions in a flexible way which doesn’t mean that the period of necessary changes would be stretched along for an infinite number of years.

Following the oral presentation some 70 messages asked for more copies of the written text.

Links to the Appendix pages from A thru F (appa thru appf):

appaappa

appb

appc

appd-e

appf

“Self” in James

From:

DJJR Sociology

a course wiki by djjr

James, William. 1890. “The Self And Its Selves” (161-166).

James’ piece elaborates on the constituents, or selves, that create one cohesive “self. What people associate with the terms “I,” “me,” and “mine,” can all in some way or another be associated with an investment of self to some degree or another. James claims that the understanding of Self can be separated into three categories: “1. Its constituents; 2. The feelings and emotions they arouse,—Self-feelings; 3. The actions to which they prompt,—Self-seeking and Self-preservation” (James 1890, 162). The first category, the constituents that constitute Self can then be further divided into sub-categories of “a. The material Self; b. The social Self; c. The spiritual Self; and d. The pure Ego” (James 1890, 162). James then further explicates each of the four aforementioned sub-categories.

The material Self is constituted by: our bodies, clothes, immediate family, and home. It is it to these things, according to James, that we are the most deeply affected by because of our investments of self within these things. The more we invest of ourselves in these objects, the more attached to them we inevitably are to them.

A man’s social Self is configured based upon our interactions with society and the reactions of others that are analyzed in order to contribute to our idea of a social Self. Within this notion of the social Self, there are multiple divergences; which version of Self is present is contingent upon which of a particular social group one finds one’s self in. Seemingly, possessing multiple social Selves and maintaining the right face depending on social situation can be chaotic or harmonious. In attempts to maintain order between different variations of social Self, an individual’s sense of “fame” or “honor” regulates and determines what behaviors are or not moral, reasonable or honorable.

The next constituent is said by James to be the most intimate self, the spiritual Self. James claims that it is the most intimate version of self because the satisfaction experienced when one thinks of one’s “ability to argue and discriminate, of our [one’s] moral sensibility, and conscience, of our indomitable will” (James 1890, 164) is more pure than other sentiments of satisfaction. Then, James describes a number of bodily processes in which becoming introspective can make the acts entirely mindful, conscious processes—furthering our understanding of an intimate, spiritual self.

Finally, James addresses the last and “most puzzling aspect of the self,” (1980, 165) the Pure ego. While different schools of thought have all reached differing conclusions regarding the Ego, James begins to describe it by first addressing the deciphering of a personal identity. The first part of understanding the Ego comes with understanding that it can recognize its own thoughts; the thoughts that belong to one’s own Ego can be recognized and possess a warmth that thoughts possessed by a separate ego does not. This constructed consciousness then works in conjunction with subjective synthesis, a concept that is essential to thinking and is the act of bringing thoughts together (even if only to contrast them and realize the thoughts no longer belong together). In understanding the entirety of the Ego’s functions, however, one must recall that personal identity is perceived sameness and can ultimately be feeling—not fact.

A remark.

Non-human primates and some other animals do possess some kind of social self, meaning that they know their place within their group’s co-operative and subordinating structure, but this competency differs dramatically from the social self of the humans. In James’ terms they do not have spiritual self and ego.

My 1998 paper on integration

East-Central Europe on the Eve of EU Enlargement

Paper for the 1998 ISA Convention (Minneapolis MN, USA)

1. Integration and systemic changes

Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic may acquire full EU membership within some years. Their recent efforts on the way from association to accession are aimed at applying integration measures pertaining to their economic and social performance, policy, regulation and institutions. I thought it would be proper to present here a sketchy review of some similarities and some particulars of their foreign economy reorientation and internal transformation. Some comparative data are also appended to this text. The first data group on the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland (I) consists of average long-term indicators and their annual change for the last couple of years. The second one (II) covers an intermediate period of 1991-1994, the third (III) – 1995. (II. and III. with data on Slovakia.)

The recent westward integration drive of the subregion is a logical corollary of systemic changes which began back in 1989. By this transition the nations in question started to acquire an integration compatibility with their Euro-atlantic partners. There are two levels of integration compatibility. The first one consists of steps that ­- from a general economic rationality viewpoint – long ago should have been introduced. The second level contains measures pertaining more specifically to EU regulations.

Steps toward the EU assume a respective drive for enlargement that was discussed on the Intergovernmental Conference. [1] Still after the Amsterdam summit in many respects a decisive attitude is yet to be adopted, but it is definitely acknowledged that the three nations are prepared for beginning talks about their EU accession. Enlargement will involve medium-term costs and lasting benefits both for the European Union EU and its new members, but the comparative weakness of the latter calls for EU assistance. As a matter of fact the recent fifth expansion deals with a zone of small and medium sized countries with less advanced economies than the EU average. Previous expansions also included some similar nations, but the recent one is the first to deal with several former East-block states. (German reunification was a special case.) Because of its scope and its diversity, it has to be preceded by more important changes than the previous ones.

In addition to and in connection with the deepening of the Union, EU will have to address the implications of the increased number of members. Still more flexibility is needed so as to give enough time to the new member states to attain integration conditions gradually. The actual accession should take place only in sequences. Block treatment is excluded in respect of the above named three countries either. Their background and process of social transformation is characterized by some general as well as special features. That calls for some historical reviews.

As a common historic feature, the three nations in question have been demonstrating their socio-cultural affinity with the West for many centuries. Early in this millennium, or in Dante’s time in spite of some Eastern-type phenomena they gradually diverged from the developmental models existing just across the divide line between civilizations, in the Byzantine-orthodox and the Islamic areas. This distinction was preserved even afterwards, when these countries have developed also differences from the West in their patterns of social action, economy, political systems and the way of life. After 1948 they fell under Soviet domination and, later, Soviet implosion was a first condition and general background of their transition.

Another resemblance pertains to the present state of affairs. Social transformation has attained a crucial point of no return, even if the new system has not fully developed yet. The situation is far from being an ideal one, but democracy is stabilized, market economy is operating. There is continuity in legality, owing to which the process of transition is characterized by relative peace and stability. Economic and political freedom were won by democratic elections and in that sense the end of the old regime was much better than its start.

Rule of law, real separation of powers, individual freedom, human rights and property rights have already been established. They are at the root of the very existence, and meaning of any present and future governments, not excluding ones assuming a socialist tinge. Political conflicts are being fought through in parliamentary forms at the same time when, in some Balkan states changes have included explosion of violence and ethnic-religious hatred left a whole area with still smoldering ruins of social, economical and environmental disasters. In Central Europe the former Czech and Slovak Federation has disintegrated due to national differences but the process was smooth. In these circumstances a recent high degree of ethnic homogeneity, of no value in itself, has been an important asset of the three Central European countries on the eve of their EU membership.

The Euro-Atlantic and global implications of changes are demonstrated, inter alia, by the operation of non-European multinationals in the subregion, OECD membership of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, and the invitation extended to these countries to adhere to the North-Atlantic defense community. There are also trans-systemic (not transition-specific) corellative links and similarities of this area with the rest of Europe: the evolving digitalization of life or the restriction of growth of expenditures on welfare are international attributes of a global transformation process. The same is true concerning the fight against drug abuse, terrorism, money laundering, nuclear trade, etc.

Economic conditions are the main concern both from the viewpoint of transformation and integration compatibility. Macro-economic situation was by no means attractive over the 90s. The firms of the subregion lost from one day to another about two thirds of their East-European trading partners and markets for products, that could not be sold elsewhere. Equally the supply of commodities and raw materials from these markets dried up . The impact of war in former Yugoslavia was anything but beneficial, (especially for Hungary bordering with the territory of the tumultuous Southern Slavic area).

In light of these events, a degree of versatility of the three nations’ economic-cultural potential was demonstrated by their transition achievements. Denationalization of most assets was essential for the economic transformation. Industrial restructuring, evolving services, rising productivity are salient indicators of change. Growth is resumed. There have emerged millions of small entrepreneurs to become a most important accelerating factor of development. Large international companies, even criticised for some negative consequences, greatly contributed to capital imports and economic growth. There was a considerable shift (reorientation) of foreign trade to Western Europe. The latter now accounts for about 2/3-3/4 of exports. The export boom didn’t last for long and the terms of trade worsened but an actual trade integration into Europe was completed in two years. An attached chart (Chart 1.) on composition of trade by partner covers not only the three nations in question but also other transition economies. The real exchange rates of the three countries and Russia – influencing their trade performance – are reflected in Chart 2. Medium to long-term financial flows of all countries in transition are presented in Chart 3. Separate studies should be devoted to the latter, which is an increasingly influential factor of transitional economies.

Preparing for full membership goes hand in hand with a profound economic and social change i.e. a process which is in short and medium term jeopardizing stability. Prospective EU members have been receiving some financial transfers from the Community. As associates they have been getting PHARE benefits that, coordinated with other assistance, IMF stand-by loans, World Bank benefits, EBRD investments are helping defray a part of transition costs and making a substantial contribution to the preparation of integration conditions. In spite of this the main onus of changes is born by the three countries themselves. An unbearable burden would endanger not only their economic and political stability, but the whole process of peaceful European development. EU assistance is limited but there are other ways and means to avoid a part of transformation costs. In accordance with the above mentioned temporal-historical approach, instead of giving money EU may give time to its new members. I mean graduality. Of course, the period of necessary changes may not and should not be stretched along for an infinite number of years. And EU expenditures may not be excluded from the scenario. Just the rule must be applied: if EU is unable to assist in changes exceeding national potential, it should tolerate a more moderate speed of integration.

2. Some national particulars

At the beginning of changes, in 1990, the GDP per capita indicator, as compared to the Austrian level, was 30.4 for Poland, 37.8 for Hungary, and 50.4 for the Czech (and Slovak) Republic [ 2, p. 5.], which was an evidence of differences in their level of economic development. This gap remained in relation to Austria. A special feature of Poland was that a profound and lasting crisis beginning in the late 70s preceded the systemic changes. In the other two countries the recession came later, but to reduce it to a “transformational crisis” (and nothing more ) would be a simplification. A distinct feature of Hungary is a model of its society historically different of the Soviet Communism as a result of substantial reforms. With the introduction of a new economic mechanism in 1968 the economy reached a degree of adaptability to domestic needs and international markets. The reforms, even if they were partly reversed and failed to reach a critical mass, indeed helped to modernize and open the economy. In the 1980s the reforms already were unable to mitigate the decrease of the economic performance

Some peculiarities of the three countries stemmed from the respective extent of their previous openness. Their “endowment” of international indebtedness was highly different. The Czech Republic boasting of the best economic indicators at the beginning of the transition was much less indebted than the other two nations. Poland had more debt and needed relief yet in the 80sThe per capita indebtedness was the highest in Hungary, but the country managed to avoid rescheduling.

The privatization process was also different. In the Czech Republic large domestic financial institutions with the majority votes in the hands of state agencies or their holdings were the main agents of acquisition. The latter was mediated by coupon privatization while private capital was the main actor of privatization in Hungary.

Decisive privatization moves and the business environment were the main two factors due to which Hungary attracted a fairly good share of working capital imports, per capita the highest in the subregion. The country could not avoid some ill-conceived and ill-administered economic measures. Some data on Poland’s performance in this field are appended. They cover inflow of foreign capital and its sectoral structure.

Despite Hungary’s impressive privatisation record and lead in attracting investment GDP rose at an estimated 2 per cent in 1995, (at about 1% in the following year) well below the 5-7 % in Poland and the Czech Republic. Inflation was slightly over 20 % in Poland and below 10 %. in the Czech Republic. The Hungarian rate was 28.2 % in 1995 [ 14 ] and remained high in 1996. More specifically some aspects of this nation’s experience will be dealt with in the next section.

3. The Hungarian experience

Already in 1990 major trade liberalization moves were made in conformity with WTO ( then GATT ) rules on abolition of non-tariff restrictions. A newly introduced set of laws was aimed at harmonizing the Hungarian system with international norms. Some of the most important acts of economic legislation were to guarantee the investments against nationalization and enable foreign companies to repatriate in convertible currencies their capital and profits. This legislative direction was continued over the nineties. [3]

As far as bad news are concerned, the GDP was decreasing for 5 years. Ill-conceived policies have much contributed to the worsening of the situation at least in the fields of agriculture, public finances and indebtedness that went on growing, up to 1996.

In 1991-1992 Hungarian macro-policy could still boast of some stability improvements and in this respect the nation was indeed doing relatively well in comparison with some of its neighborhood. It was during this period that the bulk of foreign trade shifted to Western Europe. [4, 1992,7.] International current accounts were balanced, inflow of foreign working capital was continuous.

But GDP decreased by 20% from 1989 to 1992, industrial output decreased by about 1\4 and the rate of unemployment reached about 13% [5, March 1992]. In 1991 inflation and interest rates reached more than 35%, and the maximum tax rate on personal income was 50%. In connection with a slower rise of consumer prices (at about 23%) in 1992 the tax ceiling was 40% and nominal interest rates were also lowered. But state deficit was the highest ever recorded in Hungary. Pending on the methodology of calculation it was estimated at 6-8 percents of the GDP. [4, 1992, N 12 ] As all indicators of output worsened, money supply increased in 1992 by 25% [5]. While the excess money was supplied to the government the access of the business sphere to credits was restricted [5]. More than 63% of the GDP was concentrated in various funds of the central government, state social security and municipal authorities [6]. The government failed to begin reforms in this field. Still for five more years this indicator remained high.

The speed of liberalization was somewhat exaggerated in view of the actual level of development of the country while the depreciation of the Hungarian currency was insufficient.

There were some signs of economic recovery, partly at the expense of economic equilibrium in 1993. The balance of payments drastically worsened in 1993 to attain a deficit about$ 3.5 Bn. That was partly a result of decreasing agricultural production and exports. There remained also serious imbalances in the state budget [ 7, N 4.]. Inflation was checked at 22.5 % as compared with the previous year’s 23 %.

Along with transition processes a profound degradation in average living standards was underway. The fact itself was tolerated conditionally by the public only within a perspective of economic growth in not too distant future. A change of administration was to take place about the middle of 1994. Data for the first half of 1994 showed continuing growth and continuing disequilibrium. [ 8 ] For the first 5 months on the base of the same period of 1993 industrial output volume reached 108 , investments, 150. Gross international debt was increasing and so was state budget deficit. These imbalances did not stop under the new government. Disequilibrium culminated at the end of 1994. The deficit of the balance of payments amounted to about $ US 4 Bn and the deficit of the state budget to HUF 340 Bn. The same trends continued in the first quarter of 1995. They were stopped as a result of sweeping austerity measures and a sharp turn in the economic policy of the government [ 9 ].

The quantitative stabilisation targets included a cut in the balance of payments deficit to $ US 2.5 Bn. ( by 1.5 Bn. ), a cut of the state budget deficit to HUF 200 Bn. ( by 140 Bn. ), a cut in the number of state employees by 15 %. and aimed at a 27% rate of inflation. [ 10 ] Stabilization tools included currency depreciation of 9% at once and continuing on a sliding scale (appr. 15% on a yearly base.)

A temporary 8% import tariff supplement was introduced. Car import tax increased and reserve requirements for banks were raised. Credit demand of the total public sector was to be limited to the extent that could be covered mostly by household savings.

Comparative data on 1994 and 1995 [ 12 ] showed that in result of austerity measures while in 1994 export sales reached 83% of the 1985 level, in 1995 they reached 99.3%, i.e. practically equalled the latter. But employment went on shrinking. On the base of 1990, from 1994 to 1995, consumer prices changed from 241.6 to 309.7. State deficit was reduced by about 40% in 1995. A major foreign capital influx came in December 1995. Net debt at the end of 1995 amounted to $ US 16.8 Bn. of which the state debt was only 11 Bn. [ 13 ].

In 1995 reducing the general government budget deficit was given high priority in the economic strategy of the government. A reduction in real wages (appr. 12 %) was contended by the government to have contributed into income reallocation to savings and improvement of competitiveness of Hungarian products. But the reduction of real wages was exaggerated, it hindered growth and collecting more state revenues. The ratio of net external debt to foreign currency revenues was indeed reduced. A combination of high state debt, high interest rates and inflation, as well as high taxes have depressed economic growth. It may be added, that a major decline in the public sector deficit was up to the end of 1996 hindered by growing interest liabilities of the state budget. There remained a need for substantial narrowing of state benefits. While Hungary’s GDP per capita was a fifth of the OECD average, the share of GDP it spent on welfare was 1.4 times higher [ 14 ]. Around a third of state spending was channelled through the countrywide pension and health funds and central government had to finance their deficits [ 15 ].

In 1996 the stabilisation policy was sustained, large foreign capital inflows came, but the economic growth was marginal, about 1 %. Inflation was slower than in 1995, but remained at a high, 23,6% level. The management of the pension and health care funds remained unefficient. A fundamental reform of pension system was enacted in 1997. Indicators of a substantial growth recovery in 1997 are attached to this text as a last-minute update.

A whole system of tools is necessary to apply so that economic growth gradually accelerate and reach the annual EU countries’ average. Hungarian minuses in this respect were concentrated in earlier years when changes were achieved at the expense of negative growth, increasing unemployment and monetary disequilibria. Now there exist some achievements in restructuring, stabilisation, privatization and marketisation. These factors are contributing to achieving the economic conditions for EU membership.

***

Summing up, it has to be recognised that integration is not only to provide new prospects but also require different patterns of behavior from all the business and public actors. It comprises a gradual advancement from low competitiveness and poor international performance to a developed market economy.

By way of just mentioning the following problems may be enumerated.

Full EU membership requires the adoption of some more harmonisation changes in addition to those implemented already.

The issue of preferences in agricultural market accession is very complicated. Even the possibility of social unrest is present in some regions in this sector.

Some indicators of inflation and deficit of current account exceed the EU Maastricht threshold and the three nations are not yet able to lastingly abide all these requirements.

Monetary equilibrium may be sustained neither as a simple result of decision-making, nor as a pure consequence of self-clearing market workings, but rather as a trend stemming from the interaction of business with monetary policy. Within some years the countries have to achieve full liberalization of capital movements.

4/ References

1. Commission Opinion. Reinforcing political union and preparing for enlargement. Brussels, February 1996

2. Comparaison internationale des produits intérieurs bruts en Europe 1990. Nations Unies, New York et Geneve, 1995. p 5.

3 Hungarian Rules of Law in Force (HRLF), 1992-1996

4. Monthly Bulletin of Statistics (Statisztikai Havi Közlemények.) Központi Statisztikai Hivatal. 1992.

5. National Bank of Hungary. Monthly Reports, 1992.

6. Minister of Finances. Report to the Parliament, August, 27, 1991.

7. Monthly Reports of the National Bank of Hungary ( Magyar Nemzeti Bank Havi Jelentések) 1994

8. MTI Press Release (MTI Hirek) 04/26/94 and 05/11/94

9. Government decree 1023/1995, Magyar Közlöny, 22 March 1995

10. Népszabadság, 16 March 1995

11. Napi Gazdaság, 16 March 1995

12. Monthly Bulletin of Statistics (Statisztikai Havi Közlemények) 1996/1. Központi Statisztikai Hivatal.

13. Népszabadság, March 22, 1996

14. Financial Times, March 12, 1996

15. Social and Labor Market Policies in Hungary, OECD, 1995