Max Weber, Contemporary Life Conduct and Existential Cultures
Max Weber, Life Conduct and Contemporary Existential Cultures
Under embargo until: 2020-01-01
Is part ofThe Oxford Handbook of Max Weber
Publisher(s)Oxford University Press
The concept of life style appears in Max Weber’s writings under the guise of Lebensführung, or life conduct. It is closely linked to the spirit of capitalism and to a religious work ethic Weber traces in life maxims influencing daily practices. Weber is concerned with individual meaning in a world characterized by objective forces. He offers a social diagnosis typical of the beginning of the 20th century, one centered on the fate of the individual in an increasingly objectified, rationalized, and disenchanted world. Although still pervasive in social theories, this diagnosis framed in terms of loss is at odds with today’s world. While challenging Weber’s diagnosis, this chapter argues that his approach—his notion of life conduct with his attention to life maxims and their carriers—is still inspiring to sound out what Lois Lee calls “existential cultures.” Drawing on Weber’s insights, this chapter maps out life conduct and existential cultures in an East German town.