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Ideal Types

Page history last edited by jen 15 years, 5 months ago

The ideal type is a tool used by Max Weber to analyze sociological phenomena. The ideal type is essentially a prototypical construction of an infinite number of singular examples of a phenomenon. Seldom will the ideal type describe any specific example exactly. However, it outlines what elements are the most typical and conceptually necessary for any phenomena across the entire range of individual cases.


Ideal types are not meant to generalize phenomena; they are meant to aid in the analysis and problem solving of social issues. When a concept is reduced to its basic qualities just for the purposes of understanding, it is a descriptive type. When these concepts and categories are used for analysis and clear attributes and elements must be outlined for examination, however, the descriptive type becomes an ideal type.

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