Max Weber (1864-1920), German sociologist, one of the founders of modern sociology. He emphasised cultural and political factors as key influences on economic development and individual behaviour. Weber argued for a scientific and value-free approach to research, yet highlighted the importance of meaning and consciousness in understanding social action. His ideas continue to stimulate thought on social stratification, power, organisations, law, and religion. Peter Baehr teaches in the department of politics and sociology at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.