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Weber's General Theory of Rationalisation

The rationalisation process is the practical application of knowledge to achieve a desired end. It leads to efficiency, coordination, and control over both the physical and the social environment. It is the guiding principle behind bureaucracy and the increasing division of labour. It has led to the unprecedented increase in both the production and distribution of goods and services. It is also associated with secularisation, depersonalisation, and oppressive routine. Increasingly, human behaviour is guided by observation, experiment and reason to master the natural and social environment to achieve a desired end.

Weber's general theory of rationalisation (of which bureaucratic evolution is but a particular case) refers to increasing human mastery over the natural and social environment. In turn, these changes in social structure have changed human character through changing values, philosophies, and beliefs. Such superstructural norms and values as individualism, efficiency, self-discipline, materialism, and calculability have been encouraged by the bureaucratic process. Bureaucracy and rationalisation were rapidly replacing all other forms of organisation and thought. Beginning to form a stranglehold on all sectors of Western society.

Denying the possibility of developmental laws in sociology, Weber essentially presented rationalisation as the master trend of Western capitalist society. Rationalisation is the process whereby every area of human relationships is subject to calculation and administration. While Marxists have noted the prominence of rational calculation in factory discipline and the labour process, Weber detected rationalisation in all social spheres - politics, religion, economic organisation, university administration, the laboratory and even musical notation. Weber's sociology as a whole is characterised by a metaphysical pathos whereby the process of rationalisation eventually converted capitalist so...

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Weber's General Theory of Rationalisation. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:01, July 04, 2015, from