Essay Sample on Social Actions

Published: 2023-03-21
Essay Sample on Social Actions
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Social activities Human behavior
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1753 words
15 min read

In his sociological teachings, Max Weber introduced numerous forms of sociological studies. These studies include instrumental actions and substantive rational actions. The responses above are a result of how people make their decisions depending on rationality. They come up with different choices according to what they have heard, and about what has been proven scientifically (Weber, 2002). Thus, instrumental action is where individuals make their decisions based on logical scientific grounds. The actions taken in the process are complicated, and the means do not matter, but the results are the main point of focus.

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Therefore, the goals or values are used as a means of achieving other ends, and then the goals are treated as instrumental. From the above-stated examples, example two is an example of instrumental action. A person accused of murder hires a skilled defense attorney. The results are not to achieve justice but to succeed in the case. The evidence may be there to show the accused is guilty, but due to the competency of the attorney, he wins the case, in which justice is not served to the victim (Weber, 2002). The same can be explained using an example of two people who decide to increase their income. They do this by trying various methods. The first one chooses to reduce expenses and increase savings. The second one decides to involve himself in corrupt atrivities, theft, sale of drugs, and evade taxes. The second individual will be more successful than the first. But is it the right thing to do so?

Substantive rational actions are those actions that occur concerning a specific value. It happens when individuals use reason to present their thoughts before making a decision. This means they do not want to care about the results and are selfless. Here the means to do not matter, but the end value is essential (Weber, 2009). The costs of the process are not considered, what is considered is the final results and how its effects are valuable. The only difference here, rationality puts more weight on the consciousness of the individuals. There are questions that this type of rational tries to answer. They include the ethical, aesthetic, and religious forms. If they are geared towards achieving this, then it becomes substantive rational action.

From the examples above, example four explains substantive rational responses. A person is arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for breaking the law to protest racial injustice. The statement above is substantial in away. A person protesting for racial justice is acting in favor of humanity in favor of equality (Weber, 2009). But when laws are placed to prevent such from happening, they are said to be breaking the rules. Therefore, for one to finally decide they have to protest to achieve racial equality irrespective of the possible repercussions, it is said to be a substantive rational to come to such a decision. The individual was ready for any consequences that accompanied his actions. He/she knew it was possible to get arrested and jailed but went ahead anyway.

The Spirit of Capitalism

The spirit of capitalism, as explained by Max Weber, was a way in which he tried to understand the origin of this spirit. In his explanation, he sought various sources to trace its source. In his book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. He studies the relationship between Protestantism and the source of the spirit of capitalism. In his studies, he explains that capitalism in the modern age is aimed at maximizing profits (Chalcraft, 2001). He tries to attribute the above to the forms of protestant religious beliefs.

Protestantism and modern capitalism had similar features in common. The protestant religions believed that God's favor was depicted in his worldly prowess. When one was seen wealthy, it was said that he was blessed and was filled with God's favor. In this way, these religions gave worldly activities religious personality. In a bid to correlate this spirituality with the source of the spirit of capitalism. He went to the Calvinists, a branch of Protestants. They believe that the fate of an individual is predetermined, and the decision where one will succeed or fail is predestined (Chalcraft, 2001). They came to attribute material success and profits to a sign of God's favor. They were joined by other groups such as the Pietists and the Methodists. The Methodists however, believed in the same but to a lesser degree.

Secondly, Protestantism and capitalism show that it encouraged development. Since the protestant churches valued wealth as God-given, they put more struggle to achieve it (Chalcraft, 2001). A comparison of two different areas in England where there was protestant dominance and a place where the Roman Catholic rules took effect shows that there was an increased economic development in places where there were protestant dominations. Places where there was capitalism as compared to places without depicts that same scenario. It shows that capitalism and Protestantism had some things in common. The experienced economic development was a result of a spirit that had been instilled into the people's lives. Thus, the sense of capitalism was introduced from the basic believes of the protestants.

The type of capitalism portrayed by the protestant churches was considered to follow substantive rational supra-individual norms. It thus, means that they valued the kind of wealth gained through morally upright ways. It encouraged individuals to work hard in the form of increased investment, better jobs, and business. It, therefore, means whatever they did to increase their wealth, the individual's moral value came topmost. The inception of the spirit of capitalism took the same path at the beginning. However, it came to turn into a different perspective altogether. After the introduction of capitalism, it came with all other forms of vices. There was increased robbery, corruption, and gambling. The vices that came with capitalism introduced a new type of rational- formal rational supra-individual norms. These are the norms that do not put morality into context. Money comes first as long as one is getting profits or getting wealthier; no one cares whether the way it was obtained was good or bad. Thus, the original intention or meaning of wealth as per the protestant churches was changed.


We live in a bureaucratic world where specific rules have to be followed. The essence of introduction and constant follow up of these rules is to ensure that efficiency, predictability, precision, and effectiveness. Advantages achieved above are essential features that have kept a bureaucratic form of governance in place for all that time (Penz, 2006). All bureaucracies are organized according to precisely written rules to spell out each bureaucrat's duties, wages, and where each bureaucrat is positioned in chains of lawful orders of command. The above statement is aimed at achieving efficiency, effectiveness, and precision. The use of rules is to ensure that there are order and minimal supervision during work (Penz, 2006). Every bureaucrat is self-driven and does not need to be followed up as there are rules to guide them during their work. It saves time and eliminates conflict since bureaucrats will have a clear understanding of the duties they are required to perform. Bureaucracy also indicates every ones' rank in the chain of command. It is set this way for specific reasons. They include the fact that there has to be an understanding of who reports to who (Penz, 2006). There have to be minimal or no conflicts on the scope of an office or department or where it is supposed to supervise. The indication of wages enables the individuals to know what they expect at the end of the month. Including what is required of them to receive the payments.

Every bureaucratic office is occupied by a person who has specialized technical expertise suited to the duties of the office. The use of professional experts who have specialized in specific fields in bureaucratic offices is mandatory. Its importance is to ensure that there are effectiveness and efficiency in the work they do. They are experts in those fields, and thus they are highly productive and efficient. Studies show that the use of such individuals increases the chances of productivity as compared to the use of individuals whose expertise is not up to standard. Offices that require technical expertise may become difficult for unqualified people to operate. There are specific tasks that cannot be accomplished without expert knowledge (Weber, 2005). Thus through the use of professionals in the offices helps to achieve precision and effectiveness.

A bureaucratic organization maintains the information of all tasks, aspects, and actions that takes place in the organization. It thus, means that all the procedures processes and results are put on record in every organization (Weber, 2005). The importance of keeping all the documents is to ensure that there is data for future reference. The use of the above information is to make a comparison of the company's progress. It also helps track the company on their journey towards achieving their goals. Every organization has goals, whether short term or long term to know whether the purposes were made, it is possible to do this by checking on the past recorded information (Weber, 2005). The information of all the employees is also kept. Thus this is possible by taking the personal information of all employees during recruitment. It is an essential factor in human resource development during the times of employee development and appraisal. The importance of the above is to get the right information about the employees. Thus ensuring that precision and effectiveness is achieved. The information on all transactions performed, and those who were involved in the dealings are recorded. The information above shows that individuals have worked with the company before and hence customer tracking is possible.


Weber, M. (2002). The Protestant ethic and the" spirit" of capitalism and other writings. Penguin.

Chalcraft, D. (2001). Max Weber on the Watchtower: On the Prophetic Use of Shakespeare's Sonnet 102 in politics as a Vocation'. Max Weber Studies, 1(2), 215-230.

Penz, P. (2006). Patrice R. Flowers is an Assistant Professor of International Relations and Japanese Politics at the University of Hawaii-Manoa. She received her Ph. D. from the University of Minnesota in 2002. Dr. Flowers recently re-turned from a two-year SSRC/JSPS Fellowship at the University of Tokyo. Nathaniel H. Goetz is Interim Director of the Forced Migration Labora. Forced Migration And Global Processes: A View from Forced Migration Studies, 413.

Weber, M. (2005). Power and Authority: When and Why Do People Obey?. Max Weber: Readings and Commentary on Modernity.

Weber, M. (2009). The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism: with other writings on the rise of the West. Oxford University Press.

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