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Ideal Type

  Ideal type, in the social sciences, refers to an artificially constructed ‘pure type’ which emphasizes certain traits of a social item which do not necessarily exist anywhere in reality.

Attention was first drawn to the ideal type in sociology by Max Weber (1864 - 1920) in order to make explicit the procedures by which he believed social scientists formulated general abstract concepts. Weber believed that social scientists selected as the defining features of an ideal type certain aspects of behaviour or institutions which were observable in the real world, and exaggerated these features to construct an abstract model. Not all the characteristics present in this model would actually be present in the real world, but a better understanding of any given situation could be reached by means of a comparison with the ‘ideal type’. The ideal type should not be confused with the notion of an ideal in a moral sense—that is, an exaggeration of those traits considered desirable.

For Weber, ideal type analysis was the sociological counterpart to the experimental method in the natural sciences. In contrast to the physical sciences, however, he did not envisage that a general agreement could be reached on ideal type concepts in sociology, or that such concepts would become the basis of generalized laws. DA

See also authority; bureaucracy; positivism; social fact.Further reading R.E. Rogers, Max Weber\'s Ideal Type Theory.



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Other Terms : Kitsch | Analytic And Synthetic | Continental Drift
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