Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 25, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952637 | Print ISBN: 9780761923879 | Online ISBN: 9781412952637| Publisher:Sage Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Weber, Max (1864–1920)
Max Weber, a German sociologist, was one of the founding fathers of his discipline, particularly the sociology of law. Weber analyzed law along two dimensions: the degree to which law is formal and the degree to which it is rational. Formality refers to a legal system's strict procedures and evidence rules, often coupled with the relative autonomy of legal institutions or legal personnel. Rationality refers to a legal system's systematic, logical derivation of abstract legal propositions that legal experts can reconstruct and consistently affirm over time, rendering the system in general calculable and predictable. Weber's analytical method, based on the comparative studies of many civil and religious legal systems, led him to articulate four ideal-typical systems of law: formal-rational, formalirrational, substantive-rational, and substantiveirrational. For each, Weber provided examples based on his explorations of Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, and canon law, as well as from his studies of legal prophets, legal “honoraries” ...