In the Grip of Freedom

In the Grip of Freedom: Law and Modernity in Max Weber

Cary Boucock
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 240
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442676077
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  • Book Info
    In the Grip of Freedom
    Book Description:

    Examining the relationship between Weber?s Sociology of Law and his interpretation of the structure and meaning of modern society, Boucock looks at Weber?s thought in the context of developments in Canada since 1982.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7607-7
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. Introduction: Law and Modernity in Max Weber
    (pp. 3-18)

    In the world of sociological theory there has been a renewed interest in Max Weberʹs social and political thought over the past ten to fifteen years.¹ Today, because of its profound breadth and insight into the modern condition, Weberʹs scholarly legacy is widely considered to be the most influential social thought of the era. Though his sociology of law is less well-known than other areas of Weberʹs work, it has garnered a respectable proportion of scholarly attention, particularly since the early 1980s. Since the breakdown at that time of a certain post–Second World War ideological consensus in the advanced...

  6. CHAPTER ONE The ʹSpecific and Peculiar Rationalism of Western Cultureʹ
    (pp. 19-40)

    The significance of formal rationality and value-positivism, and their inner relationship, is key to understanding the meaning of legal-rational domination in Weberʹs thought. Formal rationality represents a modality of control and mastery involving the objectification and depersonalization of modern social arrangements. The rationality of modern economic and political structures of power is purely formal precisely because the means-ends relationship of economic or political action is no longer determined by traditional, emotional, or evaluative orientations. It is instead forged according to the calculation of efficiency or profit accumulation. The corollary to the formalization of the means-ends rationality of modern social arrangements...

  7. CHAPTER TWO The ʹSpecific and Peculiar Rationalismʹ of Modern Authority: The Problematic Relation between Modern Freedom and Domination
    (pp. 41-80)

    In different but analogous ways, the rationalism of the capitalist market economy and of bureaucratic forms of organization (and by implication, all the supportive institutions of modern society) represents forms of control and mastery involving rigorous calculation of the means-ends relationships of economic and political activity. Mastery and control are obtained through the exploitation of knowledge, particularly technical expertise, but more generally through the objectification and depersonalization of social arrangements. The rationalism of modern social arrangements and the conceptions of individualism prevalent to modern society presuppose, first, a fundamental distinction between knowledge of ʹfactsʹ and judgments of ʹvalue,ʹ and second,...

  8. CHAPTER THREE The Developmental History of Modern Law
    (pp. 81-105)

    Interpretation of legal phenomena plays a key role in both Weberʹs account of the development of the West and his conception of the ʹspecific and peculiar rationalismʹ of modern social arrangements: the rationalization of Western law is at the centre of Weberʹs sociology of law, just as the legalization of modern economic and political structures of power (capitalism and bureaucracy) could be said to form a central theme in his sociology of modernity. The pattern of modern social arrangements and institutional functions evinces a high degree of formal rationality, expressed in terms of transparency to reason, impersonality, and orientation towards...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR The ʹDynamicʹ of Legal Rationalization: An Interpretation of Recent Trends in Legal Development
    (pp. 106-130)

    Modern social arrangements and institutional functionings evince a high degree of formal rationality, expressed in terms of their transparency to reason, their impersonality, and their orientation to control. The formal rationality of modern law, and of modern social arrangements in general, presumes a positivistic conception of values and a will-centred conception of personhood. According to Weber, formal legal rationality contributes to the modern experience of ʹfreedomʹ through the institutionalization of purposive-rational action, particularly in the economic and political arenas of public life. Historically, this institutionalization was achieved through the objectification and depersonalization of social arrangements and the subjectification of normative...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE The Constitutionalization of Individual Rights in Canada: A Case Study in the ʹDynamicʹ of Legal Rationalization
    (pp. 131-155)

    One of the signal characteristics of contemporary social experience in the advanced capitalist democracies is the pervasive legalization of social relationships. The salient features of our contemporary structure of legal domination are the regulatory-administrative stateandthe rights-oriented polity. Both features of contemporary legal domination can be explicated within the framework of Weberʹs conception of formal legal rationality and by extrapolating Weberʹs account of legal rationalization. The interpretation of the regulatory-administrative dimension of modern societies in terms of formal legal rationality and purposive-rational action need not be laboured here. Even Weberʹs critics more or less accept the applicability of these...

  11. CHAPTER SIX The Limits of Formal Legal Rationality: An Interpretation of Weberʹs Theory of Modern Politics
    (pp. 156-181)

    The promotion and protection of individual autonomy through the litigation of individual rights and the concomitant rise of judicial powers of review may have the counterintuitive consequence of actually expanding the legal-rational web of functional interdependencies that contributes to the individualʹs experience of being dominated by unwilled forces. Although the earlier historical stages of the formal legal-rational reconstitution of social arrangements in the West may have been ʹunambiguouslyʹ freedom-enhancing, the countertendencies generated by subsequent stages of legal development signify the extent to which formal legal rationality itself has come to impede meaningful individual autonomy.

    According to Weberʹs interpretation of the...

  12. Conclusion: In the Grip of Freedom
    (pp. 182-190)

    In Weberʹs sociology of modernity, Löwith argues, the significance of ʹʺrationalityʺ is ambiguous precisely because it expresses the specific achievement of this world and at the same time the questionable character of this achievement.ʹ³ The point of Weberʹs emphasis on the impersonal, quasi-mechanical, and soulless quality of modern rational social arrangements is to illustrate that such arrangements, however formally or technically rational in terms of efficiency and productivity, are only a technical instrument of organization and production; they possess no inherent value, nor do they represent a substantively rational force in society. Weber emphasizes the ʹprecise, soulless and machine-likeʹ character...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 191-212)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 213-222)
  15. Legal Cases
    (pp. 223-224)
  16. Index
    (pp. 225-230)