Weber on Star Wars: Or Why the Empire Should Win in the End

Now that Disney is turning Star Wars into a Marvel-like cottage industry and Harrison Ford has broken a leg while playing an older Han Solo, the time is ripe for asking the real question about what happened a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away: Was the Galactic Empire such a bad thing after all? And what would Max Weber think about Jedis?

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Weber on Westeros

I don’t really like Game of Thrones: it is basically a soap opera with no clear narrative arc and too much gratuitous despair for my taste. I read the first book in George R. R. Martin‘s series and watched the show until the infamous “Red Wedding”. By that point I had decided there were way too many characters whose names or motives I did not know, too many factions whose background I ignored, and no clear pattern of relationships. But – like everything else in pop culture – I can still use Game of Thrones to demonstrate how my favorite social scientist was a genius. Hence this guide to Westeros through the lens of Weberian theory. Continue reading Weber on Westeros

Wizards and clerics, democracies and autocracies

This years marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). For those unfamiliar with it, D&D was the grandfather of tabletop roleplaying games (RPGs), which mix storytelling, improv, strategy and chance: each player assumes the role of one character with attributes and skills, vices and virtues, and together they face the challenges put forth by one of the players – the Dungeon Master or Game Master – who controls the narration and plays all other characters and creatures. It’s a simple notion, but over the last forty years D&D has had a considerable influence on a large swatch of modern pop culture. Continue reading Wizards and clerics, democracies and autocracies