By Barry Hindess (eds.)
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Extra info for Sociological Theories of the Economy
I do not intend in th:R paper to offer a systematic treatment of all these areas. What I shall be concerned to do is to offer a conceptual analysis of the sources of Weber's interpretation of economic phenomena. Even with such a limited proposal it will not be possible to examine the effects of Weber's basic concepts of economic affairs upon all his substantive applications of these concepts. I shall not, for example, be discussing Weber's treatment of the economy under feudal or ancient social conditions.
The important point is that it is theoretically possible (and is, as we shall see, substantively argued by Weber) that certain values might allow the selection of ends and means according to the definition of instrumental rationality. e. rationally inflexible, values were the standards of rational choice. Weber qualifies his instrumental-value distinction himself by saying that 'choice between alternative and conflicting ends and results may well be determined in a value-rational manner; in that case action is instrumentally rational only in respect to the choice of means', so that 'Value-rational action may have various different relations to the instrumentally rational action'.
The fact that the analysis of the sub-systems of the economy, their breakdown into smaller analytical objects, and arguments of a similar standing have received only brief consideration can be justified with reference to the particular objective which governed this critique. An assessment of the distinguishing features and specific potentialities of structural-functionalist theory requires an investigation into what are the theoretically decisive concepts of that theory vis-a-vis other modes of analysis, particularly from within sociological theory.