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Basic Sociological Terms

In “Basic Sociological Terms,” Weber gives us a definition of sociology and, more importantly, social action. You may find it useful to re-read the section on ideal-types on Weber’s Profile page, because he spends some time talking about the ideal-types of social action here. Answer the following questions after completing the reading.


1. One of Weber’s key concepts is that of verstehen, which he describes in the beginning of the essay. Use the concept of verstehen to describe what Weber means when he says sociology is the “interpretive understanding” of social action.

2. What does it take for action to be social, according to Weber?

3. Weber gives us four ideal-types of social action. In your own words, define each ideal-type of social action and give a hypothetical example of each.

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