The revival of comparative and historical sociology in recent decades has largely neglected the contributions of Max Weber. Yet his work offers a powerful resource for this field. Kalberg rejects the view that Weber's historical writings consist only of an ambiguous mixture of fragmented ideal types on the one hand and the charting of vast processes of rationalization and bureaucratization on the other. On the contrary, Weber's substantive work provides coherent and distinctive guidelines for comparative-historical analysis. A systematization and reconstruction of his comparative-historical sociology, Kalberg argues, uncovers a sophisticated approach which addresses agency and structure, multiple causation and model-building. Kalberg shows how Weber's work casts a direct light upon issues of pressing importance for comparative-historical research today; it addresses in a forceful way the whole range of problems and dilemmas confronted by the comparative-historical enterprise.
Once the full analytic and empirical power of Weber's substantive writings is made clear, they can be seen to generate procedures and strategies appropriate to the study of present day as well as past social processes. Written in an accessible and engaging fashion, this book will appeal to students and professionals in the areas of sociology, anthropology and comparative history.
Stephen Kalberg is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Boston University. He has published widely on Max Weber and German and American political and economic cultures.