Max Weber in the World

Max Weber (born April 21, 1864 in Erfurt, died June 14, 1920 in Munich) is considered a modern classic. Even today, almost a hundred years after his death, his scientific work remains contemporary. His writing is being read, edited, translated analyzed time and time again in new ways. Even though his work was left unfinished, his definitions of terms such as objectivity and value neutrality, bureaucracy and charisma, and modern capitalism and rationalism are still considered as a key source for ideas and vital theoretic knowledge among scientific disciplines. Some regard Max Weber as a lawyer or a political economist whereas others rather consider him as a sociologist, political scientist or historian. His research covers the fields of history, economics, and cultural and social science. It transcends interdisciplinary boundaries and has transnational effects. Weber’s world views and his travels had a significant impact on his work. Without extended stays in Italy and the United States, the centers of past and future world order, his views would likely have been different. His studies comparing occidental cultures to other important cultures of the world were groundbreaking. Weber’s analysis of “the general cultural impact of the capitalist evolution” offered a description of the modern world that remains accurate to this day. It is therefore no surprise that Weber’s work caused international interest at an early stage. His “Börsenschriften” published in 1894 and 1896, were translated into Russian as early as 1897. Ever since, his works have been published in many languages, not only the dominant world languages but also Albanian, Catalan, and Serbo-Croatian. In 2010, the Mohr Siebeck publishing house announced that the collective edition of Weber’s work would be translated into Arabic. In short, Max Weber became an international classic and an interpreter of the modern world at an early point and has retained that role until the present day.

In light of the emergence, reception, and impact of his work, not to mention his international appeal, Max Weber represents an ideal figurehead for the interdisciplinary and transnational work of the humanities institutes abroad. On occasion of its tenth anniversary, the Foundation German Humanities Institute Abroad has added the name of this influential German scientist to its label. At the same time, the foundation approached Weber thematically. The conference “Max Weber in the World” was dedicated to assessing the impact of Max Weber’s work on scientific developments and discussions in the countries where the foundation’s institutes are located. Discussions dealt with highlighting the reception and impact of Weber’s work in past and present and also assessed how his work was impacted by his travels and stays abroad. Debates did not only focus on retracing the history of Weber’s international reception but also considered questions about his work’s limitations, possibilities and relevance for current times. Our blog “Max Weber in der Welt” covered the conference and keeps track of scientific engagements of the foundation, its institutes and other partners dedicated to Max Weber.