Max Weber's Theory of Modernity: The Endless Pursuit of Meaning, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Max Weber's Theory of Modernity

The Endless Pursuit of Meaning, 1st Edition

By Michael Symonds


204 pages

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Hardback: 9781472462862
pub: 2015-08-07
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This book illuminates an important dimension of the work of Max Weber. Weber’s theory of meaning and modernity is articulated through an understanding of his account of the way in which the pursuit of meaning in the modern world has been shaped by the loss of Western religion and how such pursuit gives sense to the phenomena of human suffering and death. Through a close, scholarly reading of Weber’s extensive writings and Vocation Lectures, the author explores the concepts of ’paradox’ and ’brotherliness’ as found in Weber’s work, in order to offer an original exposition of Weber’s actual theory of how meaning and meaninglessness work in the modern world. In addition to making a substantial and highly original contribution to the sociology of modernity, the book applies the theory of meaning extracted from Weber’s thought, addressing the claim that Weber’s work has been rendered out-dated by the supposed re-enchantment of the modern world, as well as discussing the ways this theory can contribute to our understanding of the development of specific forms of modernity. A rigorous examination of the thought of one of the most important figures in classical sociology, this volume will appeal to scholars of sociology, social theory and philosophy with interests in modernity, Weber and the concept of meaning.


’Writers become classics because their work invites continual, fresh interpretation. Michael Symonds’ stimulating new book on Max Weber does just that. His careful study of the role of fate, paradox and brotherliness� clarifies important dimensions of Weber’s work. Even more, Symonds illuminates the conflicted nature of human beings faced with dilemmas lodged deep within the texture of modernity and the human heart itself.’ Peter Baehr, Lingnan University, Hong Kong

About the Author

Michael Symonds is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy and Sociology at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. He is the co-author of Home/World: Space, Community and Marginality in Sydney's West.

About the Series

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory
Classical and Contemporary Social Theory publishes rigorous scholarly work that re-discovers the relevance of social theory for contemporary times, demonstrating the enduring importance of theory for modern social issues. The series covers social theory in a broad sense, inviting contributions on both 'classical' and modern theory, thus encompassing sociology, without being confined to a single discipline. As such, work from across the social sciences is welcome, provided that volumes address the social context of particular issues, subjects, or figures and offer new understandings of social reality and the contribution of a theorist or school to our understanding of it. The series considers significant new appraisals of established thinkers or schools, comparative works or contributions that discuss a particular social issue or phenomenon in relation to the work of specific theorists or theoretical approaches. Contributions are welcome that assess broad strands of thought within certain schools or across the work of a number of thinkers, but always with an eye toward contributing to contemporary understandings of social issues and contexts.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Political
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General