The Encyclopedia of Political Thought
The Encyclopedia of Political Thought

Ideal Types


The ideal types constitute one of the most important methodological legacies from Max Weber (1864–1920). As Weber made clear, ideal types are essentially schemes of conceptualization that serve as methodological instruments for comparing, classifying, and measuring social and historical phenomena. The word itself (Idealtypus) was borrowed from Georg Jellinek – a historian and Weber’s compatriot. Nonetheless, Weber equipped the term with further constraints in order to avoid its normative sense. Hence, the word “ideal” in Weber’s writings has nothing to do with the contemporary usage of the adjective “ideal” itself; rather it refers to the idea, or an analytical construct that does not express evaluations of any sort about the reality.

The Encyclopedia of Political Thought. Edited by Michael T. Gibbons. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Daniel Marcelino
Data/Political Scientist