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Not sure if this is the right forum, but this seems to be the best fit. IF there is a better forum, please direct me.

Marx and Weber are both concerned with the role of "culture" or "idea/ideology" on the material world. Obviously, Weber placing a greater emphasis on ideology than Marx does.

Marxists look at culture as Dominant Culture: the culture of the ruling class. This ideology legitimizes the domination of the ruling class (i.e., capitalists) and their exploitation of the masses (i.e., the proletariat).

Weberians (is that the right term?) see the hand of Modern Culture: the ideology of rationalization. While the ideology of rationalization is born from the material world (from a confluence of historical phenomenons), rationalization also has taken a life of its own. People rationalize for the sake of rationalization, not for greater efficiency or utility.

Now, my question--sorry--is does Weber see rationalization as a "black and white" phenomenon? Basically, does Weber see an idea/thing/whatever as rational, or irrational? In my view, what is rational for the worker is not always rational for the capitalist. Though their interests may intersect, they are not identical. I guess that I am a little confused on what rationality means for Weber. Does he perceive of a monolithic rational truth versus fantasy, or is their more gray area than that?

The paragraph above is basically my question, but if anyone disagrees with my interpretation of Weber or Marx let me know.

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My answer is tangential to your question because it adresses Weber's key concept of rationalization rather than his views of rationality in general. So see for yourself if it is helpful. But, to my best knowledge, rationalization for Weber is a more or less global process, increasingly taking hold of all social relations. And if so, then there is only one form of rationality for him, unlike, for example, for some poststructuralist thinkers, who would later speak of many (historically contingent) rationalit ies.

Weber characterizes the world we live in as subject to a process of increasing rationalization. Its objective is to master the social and physical environment by using various methods of calculation (e.g. scientific rationality) and control (e.g. bureaucracy). In other words, rationalization is concerned with the production of 'efficient' forms of social organization.

You are right to point out that rationalization has taken a life on its own, but I think it is incorrect, inasmuch as we are talking about Weber at least, to say that "People rationalize for the sake of rationalization, not for greater efficiency or utility." The logic of rationalization is to increase efficiency and utility. For Weber, the problem with rationalization lies elsewhere.

Rationalization should not be conflated with progress. The increased mastery of nature and culture, for Weber, is not the same as a better understanding of life. Instrumental reason makes a processes more 'efficient' but it is blind to the realm of values: do we need this process to begin with? Weapons of mass destruction or iPods are getting smaller, cheaper, more efficient and more precise. But are they good for us? Rationalization is not in the business of addressing such questions. It creates, as it were, a blind spot on the surface of life: it constantly promises a better life in the future but its every advance is just more of the same. Paradoxically, then, an increase in rationalization is also in a certain sense irrational: the quest for human happiness is replaced by a never ending race to make things more efficient. Rationalization, for Weber, leads to a certain disenchantment with the world.

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does Weber see rationalization as a "black and white" phenomenon? Basically, does Weber see an idea/thing/whatever as rational, or irrational?

The short answer to both questions is "no". Weber clearly defined rationalization as a historical process of social change, not an attribute of things or ideas. Weber actually identified multiple forms of rationality (patterns of thought) and rationalization (patterns of social organization) that could potentially come into conflict or contradict one another.

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