Edited by Jürgen G. Backhaus
Chapter 60: Max Weber (1864–1920)
Helge Peukert The man, his life and sociology Max Weber was born in 1864 in Erfurt (Thüringen) and died in Munich in 1920. His father came from a family of industrialists and tradespeople. He was a lawyer (and after 1866 became a city adviser in Berlin) and without doubt stimulated his son’s early studies in the history of commercial law and his emergence as one of the major personalities in a new generation of historical political economists in Germany in the 1890s. In 1892, he became extraordinary professor in commercial and German law at Berlin University. In 1894, a switch from law to economics took place: he was appointed to a chair in political economy at Freiburg, the town where, in 1882, he had begun to study law, economics, philosophy and some theology; his special interests as a student were already history of late antiquity, modern commercial law and contemporary history of constitutional law. Although Weber is mainly considered as a founding father of sociology (a term he began to use not long before the 1910s), his writings deal with the interpenetration of law, economy and society. Turner and Factor (1994) put forward an interpretation of Weber as being mainly a translator of Rudolf von Ihering’s legal philosophy into sociology, see also Loos (1970), Breuer and Treiber (1984), Rehbinder and Tieck (1987), Zippelius (1991), Marra (1992), and the introductions by Rheinstein (1954a) and Winckelmann (1960); a general overview about the debate on Weber in the secondary literature has been...
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