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Arjun Appadurai

This article is built on a close reading of the use of the term 'calculation' by Max Weber. On the basis of this reading, I argue for a deeper understanding of Weber's views on uncertainty in the Calvinist ethos, and for a new approach to some key issues in the moral and discursive world of financial capital today, in which accounting, accountability and profit-making have become dangerously delinked from one another.

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From Politik als Beruf to Politics as a Vocation

The Translation, Transformation, and Reception of Max Weber's Lecture

Jens Borchert

Max Weber's 1919 lecture Politik als Beruf is still considered a classical text in the social sciences. The reception of the text in the Anglo-Saxon world has been profoundly shaped by the translation provided by Hans H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, first appearing in 1946. Their Politics as a Vocation is more than a vivid transposition of Weber's rather peculiar German rhetoric—it is rendered in a way that suggests a certain interpretation and makes others highly improbable. The present article traces the reception of Weber's text back to certain decisions made by the translators after World War II. It argues that the translation emphasized philosophical and ethical parts of the text at the expense of others that were more geared toward a political sociology of modern politics. Moreover, the adoption of Weber's approach in empirical research was hindered if not foreclosed by a distorted presentation of his key typologies and some central concepts.

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Kari Palonen

This article is a thought experiment. It constructs ideal types of political representation in the sense of Max Weber. Inspired by Quentin Skinner and others, the aim is to give a rhetorical turn to contemporary debates on representation. The core idea is to claim an ‘elective affinity’ (Wahlverwandschaft, as Weber says following Goethe) between forms of representation and rhetorical genres of their justification. The four ideal types of political representation are designated as plebiscitary, diplomatic, advocatory, and parliamentary, corresponding to the epideictic, negotiating, forensic, and deliberative genres of rhetoric as the respective ways to plausibly appeal to the audience. I discuss historical approximations of each type of representation and apply the combination of representation and rhetorical genres to the understanding of the European Union’s unconventional system of ‘separation of powers’. I conclude with supporting parliamentary representation, based on dissensus and debate, with complements from other types.

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The White Cotton Robe

Charisma and Clothes in Tibetan Buddhism Today

Magdalena Maria Turek

point of departure in many discussions of sainthood and charisma in Buddhist contexts has been an analysis of the original concept of ‘charisma’ as conceived by Max Weber ([1922] 1980: 654) . Thus, Ray (1994: 422–423) critiques Weber for his

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Keith Hart

This note revisits Weber (especially his General Economic History) and Knight on risk and calculation, while adding commentary based on some other authors, notably Durkheim in The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. Some recent ethnographies of finance are considered, as well as popular literature on making money. The future is unknowable, but modern societies train their members to expect to pin down future time. Precise calculation of future outcomes is a chimera, one of the principal causes of the recent financial collapse. Reasoning works best backwards as rationalization and this is scientific method. Extrapolation from the past to the future is where it all breaks down.

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The Politics of Conviction

Faith on the Neo-liberal Frontier

Jean Comaroff

What, if anything, is distinctive about the Pentecostal revival that is currently palpable in many parts of the world? How might such revitalization be related to larger transformations in economy and society, and to enduring Weberian questions about the spirit of capitalism? Drawing largely on material from the US and Africa, this article explores three dimensions of contemporary theologico-politics—the sociological, the ontological, and the cultural—to examine the ways in which current religious emphasis on realism and rapture in many quarters might differ from apocalypse past, and how theocratic tendencies might be linked to shifts in the nature of the state, the shape of the secular, and the axioms of liberal humanism. How have the mass media played into this, and why are they such uncannily apt vehicles for a late-modern culture of the miraculous?

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Donald Reid

Le Nouvel Esprit du capitalisme is a socio-cultural response to the neoliberal explanation of the successes and failures of capitalism in France during the last three decades in terms of individual rational actors and markets. Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello draw their inspiration from critical readings of sociologists who interpreted earlier incarnations of capitalism, including Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Max Weber, and Emile Durkheim.

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Otherwise than Meaning

On the Generosity of Ritual

Don Seeman

The thought experiment ‘ritual in its own right’ implies a suspension of dominant interpretive paradigms in anthropological research. This essay begins by juxtaposing the foundational accounts of Weber and Geertz—both of whom associate ritual with the quest for meaning in suffering—with the phenomenological account of Emmanuel Levinas, who argues that suffering is inherently “useless” and therefore resistant to meaning’s claim. All three theorists are then juxtaposed with the Warsaw ghetto writings of a twentieth-century Jewish mystic, Kalonymos Shapira, whose work exemplifies the tension between meaningful and useless suffering in a real social setting. Shapira’s work bears comparison with Levinas’s, and lends support to the idea that our preoccupation with meaning may stem from a particular religious genealogy of social theory. Ritual can be analyzed as a ground of intersubjectivity or transcendence rather than meaning, which makes it more akin to medicine, in Levinas’s terms, than to theodicy.

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The business of teaching and learning

an accounting perspective

Penny Ciancanelli

A feature of globalisation is encouragement of universities to become more businesslike, including adoption of the type of accounting routines and regulations used by businesses. The question debated in higher education policy research is whether this focus on being businesslike is compatible with the statutory public benefit obligations of universities. This question is addressed from a financial-management perspective, drawing on Max Weber's discussion of the effects of accounting in business, governmental and not-for-profit organisations. 1 His approach is applied to three ideal-typical universities, focussing on differences in legal terms of reference and sources of funding. The article argues that the proposed reforms of public-sector accounting will make it difficult (if not impossible) to ascertain whether the publicbenefit aims of not-for-profit universities have been achieved. In addition, once installed, the business systems of accounting will encourage pecuniary rationality at the expense of the traditional value rationalities that ought to govern resource allocation in public-benefit organisations. The interaction between these effects introduces new risks, including the possibility that the controllers of universities may fail in their fiduciary obligations by wasting scarce resources on projects that, according to financial measures, appear profitable while neglecting those that have important public benefit and educational merit.

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Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft

The Reception of a Conceptual Dichotomy

Niall Bond

Ferdinand Tönnies's oeuvre Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft, published in 1887, has been seminal for the social and human sciences in general, and is no less interesting for intellectual historians and theoreticians of concept formation in particular. Tönnies subscribed to the belief that terms could be rendered less ambiguous, defining the words Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft more narrowly than their contemporary usage. In so doing, he sought to reconcile a heterogeneous agenda initially consisting in offering a diagnosis of vast historical developments and later consisting in providing heuristic tools to analyze individual relationships. This article examines the origins of the concepts and their politicized transformation prior to and subsequent to the publication of his work. As such, it takes on the transformation of Gemeinschaft during the romantic era and its revival by Germany's nationalist right wing and contrasts it with its appropriation by left-leaning communitarian movements in the English-speaking world. The polysemy of the terms in the German language accounts for their semantic evolution, for amalgamations of meanings within Tönnies's conceptual system, and for conundrums in translating the work into English or French. Although the terms were erroneously supposed to have been immediately applicable as ideal types, their adaptation, inter alia by Max Weber or by Talcott Parsons in the form of pattern variables, has been important in the reception of Tönnies's work in the social sciences.