Weber wrote during the period of Germany's unification and rapid industrial development. He was concerned with the role of the individual within this emerging, increasingly urban society and sought to preserve stability in what was an increasingly socially-stratified state -- between the old Prussian aristocracy and the emerging, entrepreneurial bourgeoisie. In his analyses of society and authority, he pinpointed a basic change in values as being at the heart of a transition from a feudal aristocracy to an industrial state. He predicted that "instrumental rationality", the rationale that characterized industry, would "win out" over the values that supported the feudal system. For the individual member of society, this shift represented not only the problem of how to "fit in" to a new social order, but also the problem of adjusting to a new value system.
[...] [impelling] certain groups either to more marriages, for example, or to more suicides, or to a higher or lower birth-rate, etc." (Durkheim 1938: Similar to these currents are what Durkheim calls "forces": "If all hearts beat in unison, this is not the result of a spontaneous and pre-established harmony but rather because an identical force propels them in the same direction. Each is carried along by all." (Durkheim 1938: 10) This force is the result of "collective emotion" or "collective sentiment". [...]
[...] (Turner 1986: 74) Through social drama analysis, the minutiae of daily life emerge as "novel", "creative" elements, "able to emerge from the freedom of the performance situation". (Turner 1986: 77) Post-modern thinkers like Turner and Geertz, unlike Weber and Durkheim, do not suppose a strict dichotomy between individual and society. Whereas Weber and Durkheim sought to explain the role of the individual in industrial society, Geertz and Turner were more interested in explaining the interrelation of individual(s) and society in the post-World War II era, where societal and moral boundaries were less clear. [...]
[...] As it is unseverable from the immediacies thick description presents, its freedom to shape itself in terms of its internal logic is rather limited. What generality if contrives to achieve grows out of the delicacy of its distinctions, not the sweep of its abstractions." (Geertz 1973: 25) Geertz's approach encompasses a number of methods that characterize postmodernist thinking and postmodern anthropology. The specificity of focus contrasts with the broad, more theoretically-based anthropologies of old. Furthermore, the attention to detail that characterizes modern ethnographies is found here as well. [...]
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