“From the Standpoint of Germanism”: A Postcolonial Critique of Weber's Theory of Race and Ethnicity

Postcolonial Sociology

ISBN: 978-1-78190-603-3, eISBN: 978-1-78190-604-0

ISSN: 0198-8719

Publication date: 12 February 2013


Sociological conceptualizations of capitalism, modernity, and economic development as due only to factors endogenous to Western Europe have been prominent targets of postcolonial criticism. Instead of an over-the-board condemnation of classical sociology as a whole or of the work of one classic in particular, the present article zooms in on Max Weber's theory of ethnicity from a postcolonial perspective in order to pinpoint the absences, blind spots and gestures of exclusion that Weber's classical analysis has bequeathed to the sociology of social inequality more generally and to the sociology of race and ethnicity in particular. Through a reconstruction of Weber's conceptual and political take on race and ethnicity, the article links Weber's general social theory with his particular views on racial and ethnic matters and reveals both as historically and politically situated. To this end, it starts with a brief look at Weber's theory of modernity as an indispensable prerequisite for an analysis of his approach to race and ethnicity and subsequently discusses his chapter on Ethnic Groups, his treatment of the “Polish question” in the 1890s and of the “Negro question” in the United States in the 1890s. Using Weber's canonical treatment of ethnicity as a test case, the article ends by suggesting that postcolonial critique can prove sociological theory more generally as built upon unwarranted overgeneralization from a particular standpoint constructed as universal.


Manuela Boatcă (2013). '“From the Standpoint of Germanism”: A Postcolonial Critique of Weber's Theory of Race and Ethnicity', in Julian Go (ed.) Postcolonial Sociology (Political Power and Social Theory, Volume 24). Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 55-80

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: https://doi.org/10.1108/S0198-8719(2013)0000024009



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