Real Types vs Ideal Types

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George Steinmetz & Philip Gorski

Thursday, October 19 from 12:00 – 1:30 p.m.

 Abstract: in discussing explanation of social phenomena, including systems of meaning, Weber develops the concept of an ideal type. For Weber the ideal type:

‘‘It is not a description of reality but it aims to give an unambiguous means of expression to such a description . . . An ideal type is formed by the one-sided accentuation of one or more points of view and by the synthesis of a great many diffuse, discrete, more or less present and occasionally absent concrete individual phenomena, which are arranged according to those one-sidedly emphasized viewpoints into a unified analytical construct’’

But where does this leave realism? … is it possible to have real types? and if so, what would they look like? how would we construct them?  and how would we use them in our explanations?

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