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Extra resources for Max Weber and Postmodern Theory: Rationalisation Versus Re-enchantment
On the other hand, the modern individual is, for Weber, to exercise his or her subjectivity in conferring the legitimacy of values from an array of competing life-orders and value-spheres which themselves tend towards rationalization. The individual is thus torn in opposite directions by the same process.
8 There is a connection, ﬁrst, between the Protestant ‘calling’ and the progressive systematization of life, in particular the emergence of ‘rational’ (capitalist) labour. Weber (1992) observes: ‘rational conduct on the basis of the idea of calling, was born … from the spirit of Christian asceticism’ (p. 180). Second, there is a connection between the systematization of life (in the attempt to understand and fulﬁl God’s demands) and the pursuit and accumulation of ‘rational’ knowledge. This latter tendency is part of a process of cultural rationalization whereby ideas and beliefs themselves become ever more intellectualized and thus more ‘rational’ in nature (see Weber, 1970, 330).
This is particularly the case with that ‘coldest of all cold monsters’ (Nietzsche, 1969, 75): the modern bureaucratic state, which, for Weber, has become the institutional embodiment of instrumental reason. This type of state legitimates itself on rational grounds, and rests upon a complex order of formal rights, rules and duties that together constitute a whole new realm of expert knowledge (ofﬁcialdom): ‘Bureaucratic administration means fundamentally domination through knowledge. This is the feature of it which makes it speciﬁcally rational’ (Weber, 1978a, 225).