Max Weber and the Social Sciences in America


Abstract
Weber and his work functioned in two ways: both as a bridge to the new, to the world of capitalist modernity, as well as a road to an acceptable cosmopolitan ‘liberal’ historical past. It was Weber the cosmopolitan and outsider who could give legitimacy and weight to the intellectual orientations and problems thought to be significant for the community in exile. It was this Weber who could cushion the ‘negative shock’ of what was often perceived as America’s ‘intellectual and cultural provincialism’ and establish for the emigre scholar and intellectual the historical task of assisting in the development of American intellectual and cultural life. At the same time, the presence of a different Weber in America, already an established interest of several scholars emerging into prominence, such as Talcott Parsons and Edward Shils, created difficulties as well as opportunities for the emigre scholars. Because of such variety the field for the transmission, reception, and influence of Weber’s work must be approached as a complicated, multilayered, and contested patchwork of disparate and sometimes partially overlapping social and professional networks
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DOI 10.1177/1474885104041042
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