Weber's inaugural Lecture and its place in his sociology

J. M. Barbalet*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Max Weber's early studies of agrarian social structure, and especially his inaugural lecture of 1895, are conventionally not considered to be part of his sociological corpus. The inaugural lecture, in particular, is largely ignored by sociologists. It is shown in the present article that the 1895 lecture is in fact an absolutely necessary key to the proper appreciation of Weber's subsequent work. Indeed, a reading of Weber's later writings through the prism of the inaugural lecture provides new, challenging and corrective understandings of Weber's argument and meaning. In a discussion of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and Weber's methodological essays, two things are shown. First, that the continuities between the 1895 lecture and the subsequent works are strong and readily demonstrable. Second, that an appreciation of Weber's argument in the inaugural lecture transforms the conventional understandings of the later works.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-170
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Classical Sociology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • methodology
  • nationalism
  • Protestant Ethic
  • religion
  • vocation


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