This is a quick question. I read The Protestant Ethic a while ago, and found it very uninteresting. But everyone says that Weber is one of the founders of sociology. Francis Fukuyama’s most recent two books are entirely framed around Weber — specifically, that governments have reached their ideal form when they evolve out of clientelistic, patronage-based rule into professional, bureaucratized, meritocratic administration. As I recall, Fukuyama gave many hat tips to Weber’s Economy and Society; it seems to be Weber’s summa.

However, starting with Economy and Society wasn’t the right way to go. It’s a massive two-volume work, and I recall that it was actually lecture notes assembled by his students; it very much seems to be sociology for sociologists.

So my big-picture question is: how would you recommend that I get into Weber, assuming that he’s worth getting into? I hope the professional sociologists in the room don’t think that my dismissal of The Protestant Ethic is heresy; I’d be surprised if they did, so consequently I’d be surprised if they thought that that book was the proper entrée into Weber’s work.

So what is the right entry point? I am perfectly willing to read multiple books, if that’s what needs doing, and if the payoff justifies the investment. And of course, if the right answer is to start with secondary works — or to read secondary works in parallel with the primary works — I can absolutely do that.

(Those of you who think that the correct answer is “take a class” are probably right. However, my employer is not likely to pay for me to enroll in a sociology class. Hence: to the library we go.)