A study of the relevance of Max Weber's work to educational administration theory




Samier, Eugénie Angèle

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Max Weber is generally regarded as a major authority in the fields of organizational, administrative and educational administration theory, whose contributions are most often understood to be a theory of bureaucracy, with a lesser influence in theories of authority and rationality of the bureaucratic and charismatic kinds. As a writer in the classical sociological tradition, his theoretical orientation is most often identified as structural-functionalist, systems theoretical, or scientific management. However, during the last twenty-five years a growing body of scholarship in contemporary European academic history and Weberian studies in particular, have challenged this dominant English-speaking view of Weber's work. The results of this attention have brought to the fore a number of dimensions of his works which do not fit easily into any of the paradigms with which he has been most often associated: his historicist methodology and programme of studies; the verstehende or interpretive methodological paradigm including a non-positivist conception of ideal type, value-freedom (objectivity), value relevance, elective affinity, and cross-cultural and cross-historical comparative techniques: and his complete system of typologies clearly outlined in Economy and Society which includes a comprehensive mapping of levels of social action and relationship extending from the individual unit of analysis through types of group interaction to types of institutional social behaviour. Based upon a world-historical body of evidence, Weber details in the typologies the possible substantive types of social organization--economic, legal, religious, political, and familial--constructed in a heuristic and interpretive manner, intended to mediate between subjective and objective levels of social reality. The central purpose of this study is to recapture the full import and scope of a Weberian problematic for educational administration theory. This is undertaken by: describing the German intellectual climate in which Weber worked in order to establish the epistemological foundations influencing his work in contrast to the Anglo-American and French traditions; reconstructing a comprehensive model of his verstehende method and identifying his major contributions to political analysis, conflict theory, administrative theory (including a critique of bureaucracy), and educational organization; and demonstrating through an inventory of organizational, administrative, and educational administration texts, the degree to which his various contributions have, until recently, been lost to sociocultural studies in the English-speaking world. The results of these studies are used to extend Weber's verstehende approach to the construction of an outline of educational organization and administration analogous to his study of religious groups and organizations in Economy and Society as a framework for future research in educational administration.



School management and organization, Sociology