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2-2006 / Studie a eseje / Pavlína Rychterová

Max Weber's The Concept and Theory of Charisma and Its Impact on the Social and Historical Sciences

Pavlína Rychterová

Pavlína Rychterová (*1970), působí v Centru medievistických studií a na Univerzitě v Kostnici , pavlina.rychterova@uni-konstanz.de       Other contributions by the same author

The concept of charismatic authority and charismatic leadership as developed in the works of Max Weber remains a controversial issue in the social sciences. The article considers selected chapters in the story of the impact of the concept, particularly in relation to the historical sciences. From the beginning there has been problematisation of the term itself, especially its original meaning in the sense of charisma as gifts of the Holy Spirit – derived from the New Testament especially the Epistles of St. Paul. Other problems arise from the contemporary use of the word, since with the development of the modern media the term charisma has been taken over into journalistic newspeak, the language of commercial and political marketing and the pseudo-scientific jargon of psychological-esoteric popular educational literature. Responses to the Weberian concept of charisma in current sociology and in historical sciences move between these two poles. Most recently the question of charismatically legitimated authority has been taken up by medievalists, and is proving fruitful in a number of areas.

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