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By Elizabeth Abbott

What does the "tradition of marriage" particularly seem like? In A background of Marriage, Elizabeth Abbott paints a regularly incredible photo of this such a lot public, but so much intimate, establishment. Ritual of romance, or social legal responsibility? everlasting bliss, or cult of domesticity? Abbott unearths a posh culture that incorporates same-sex unions, prepared marriages, dowries, self-marriages, and baby brides. Marriage--in all its loving, unloving, decadent, and impoverished manifestations--is printed right here via Abbott's infectious interest.

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We are trapped by the implicitly valuative and historically limited character of the kinds of questions we wish to ask. Nevertheless, if we recognize the existence of differences in worldviews, between, for example, the time of the Reformation and our own, we raise the possibility that these different worldviews can themselves be understood. We can construct models, both of human action and of worldviews, that we can systematically evaluate by comparing them to the evidence we have about the worldviews of others and about the course of their action.

Pp. 956±958. Rationality, economy, and society rational law and administration,9 subsumption under rules is in fact a general feature of formal rationality. To be sure, Weber also maintains that formal rationality can itself be viewed as a means to an end, namely to the maintenance of ``those who wield the economic power at any given time,''10 whereas ``the propertyless masses . . ''11 Yet the fact (if it is one) that formal rationality serves the interests of the economically powerful does not imply the absurd view that it has been instituted by that group for that purpose.

In the section of this Companion on rationality, rationalization, and psychology, the issues created by Weber's division of the usual domain of social science into meaningful and meaningless phenomena are discussed from several points of view. They point to a signi®cantly different understanding of Weber's approach to action. Weber speaks of ``the narrow limits to which [sociology understood as concerned with socially meaningful action] is con®ned'' (E&S 17), and comments that rationalistic interpretation is only a ``methodological device'' the use of which ``certainly does not involve a belief in the actual predominance of rational elements in human life'' (E&S 17).

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