Sociological Forum

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 67–89 | Cite as

Weber's analysis of legal rationalization: A critique and constructive modification

  • Joyce S. Sterling
  • Wilbert E. Moore


Max Weber's identification of increased rationalization as a master process of change included extensive discussion of legal systems. A cross-classification of rational/irrational and formal/substantive rationality makes some valid analytical distinctions, but neglects a source of legitimate authority for a formally-rational legal system and thus a determination of the goals and values toward which rules are oriented. It also neglects “instrumental” rationality, which Weber recognized in other contexts. A modification of Weber's analytical scheme is proposed, not merely to improve the accuracy of classification of legal orders but more importantly to permit empirical analysis of their dynamics.


Empirical Analysis Legal System Social Issue Analytical Scheme Extensive Discussion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Eastern Sociological Society 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joyce S. Sterling
    • 1
  • Wilbert E. Moore
    • 1
  1. 1.University of DenverUSA

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