Prof. Dr. Sam Whimster

Global Policy Institute, London Metropolitan University

Sam WhimsterSam WhimsterSam Whimster

BBC roundtable-discussion

Link to the BBC roundtable-discussion (January 16, 2012) of the loss of the Protestant work ethic with Prof. Dr. Sam Whimster, Lord Andrew Mawson and Jonathan Wittenberg.


Curriculum Vitae

Sam Whimster studied at the London School of Economics and the University of Leeds. He obtained his Ph.D. at the London School of Economics, with a thesis on the historical foundations of the sociology of Max Weber. He was employed as a lecturer at the University of Leipzig and was research fellow at the universities of Heidelberg, Tübingen and Munich. Sam Whimster is editor of “Max Weber Studies” and assistant director of the “Global Policy Institute” at London Metropolitan University.
Next to the work of Max Weber, his research interests lie in historical and comparative sociology, social theory, methods of empirical social research, as well as the sociology of the City of London. From October 2011 to January 2013, Sam Whimster was Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture”.


Research Project

Theodor Mommsen, Max Weber and Law

Law was a formative influence on the young Max Weber. He studied it for over nine years: on going up to university through to the completion of his Habilitationsschrift. Recent publications of the Max Weber Gesamtausgabe demonstrate just how immersed Weber was in the study of law, and its debates between rational codification and historicism. Sociologists have approached law through Weber’s ideal types (formal-informal & rational-irrational), giving its study a theoretical and classificatory approach. But should not Weber’s study of law be considered in and through history and culture – the ways in which Weber learned to study law?  This is most pronounced in Weber’s study of Roman law and his curious relationship to Theodor Mommsen – not his teacher, as is often said. Nevertheless, both were part of the Berlin liberal intelligentsia (as Gangolf Hübinger has noted). Mommsen’s endorsement of Weber’s Habilitationsschrift represented a transmission of, and a modulation in, the role of the academic voice in imperial Germany (and less so an endorsement of his research about which Mommsen was quite critical). That being argued, how should the presence of law and Antiquity in Weber’s intellectual formation be assessed? The bias in Mommsen was to assume that the system of law was a coherent force in Roman history. Weber was careful not to equate social order with law, but the question has to be asked whether, in Weber, the presumption of order is assumed, and upon which the legislative academic voice will pronounce.


Publications (selected)

  • Max Weber, Rationality and Modernity (Ed. with Scott Lash), London/Boston 1987
  • Global finance and Urban Living (Ed. with Leslie Budd), London/New York 1992
  • Max Weber and the Culture of Anarchy, New York 1999
  • The Essential Weber, London/New York 2004
  • Understanding Weber, London/New York 2007