Habitus and personality in the work of Max Weber

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Weber’s critique of modernity centred on how it shaped the habitus – life-conduct and motivations – of the modern individual. I explicate six habitus-types that appear in Weber’s work: the early-modern Puritan Berufsmensch, the modern specialist, the modern industrial worker, the politician, the civil servant and the citizen voter. In doing so, I identify the main characteristics of each type and the causal mechanisms through which Western modernity’s core features – capitalism and bureaucracy – brought them into being. Further, I discuss two habitus-related problems that concerned Weber: the general failure of the modern habitus to achieve ‘personality’; and the mismatch between habitus and occupational role in the Wilhelmine political sphere. I then explain the practical reforms through which Weber hoped to address these problems. Finally, I show how this analysis helps resolve two apparent contradictions which have long perplexed Weber scholars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-52
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Classical Sociology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • Habitus
  • Max Weber
  • labour unions
  • life-conduct
  • personality
  • voluntary associations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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