Tracing the Criminal

Good Intentions:
Max Weber and the Paradox of Unintended Consequences

By Mohamed Cherkaoui

Translated by Peter Hamilton
with a foreword by Bryan S. Turner

February 2007, hardback, 256 pp.
ISBN-13: 978-0-9548683-9-0
ISBN-10: 0-9548683-9-0

Gemas Studies in Social Analysis
Series Editors:
Mohamed Cherkaoui, Peter Hamilton & Bryan S. Turner


All of human life is affected by the awkward fact that, as Robert Burns said: “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. Taking his cue from Max Weber’s seminal insights into this phenomenon, Mohamed Cherkaoui explores this paradoxical world where good intentions so often produce unintended consequences. A famous example is the role of Protestantism in the rise of modern capitalism. The book offers a profound analysis of Weber’s classic essay on this topic, and his theories about the sociology of religion and of rationalisation that lie at its heart. As Professor Cherkaoui demonstrates, this approach remains of great relevance to an understanding of contemporary problems such as Islamic fundamentalism.

Professor Mohamed Cherkaoui has undertaken a remarkably original exercise in teasing out the various assumptions in the development of social theory that have been important in expressing the idea of unintended consequences. More importantly he has developed an excellent typology that attempts to transform these assumptions into a coherent theory of action and unintended outcomes.
—Professor Bryan S. Turner, National University of Singapore

Foreword by Bryan S. Turner
Chapter 1 - The Third World: A Brief Pre-Weberian History of the Unintended Consequences of Action
Chapter 2 - Weberian Semantics: Contexts and Correlates of the Paradox of Consequences
Chapter 3 - The Limits of Instrumental Rationality and its Unanticipated Effects
Chapter 4 - The Structure of Interdependence and its Consequences
Chapter 5 - Ramification Processes of Action and Social Networks
Chapter 6 - The Obstinate Autonomy of the Specific Logics of Spheres of Activity and its Unintended Consequences
Chapter 7 - The Polytheism of Values: From Conflict to the Crystallisation of Values
Chapter 8 - The Mechanisms that Produce Islamic Fundamentalism: An Outline for an Interpretation of its Genesis
Chapter 9 - The Emergence of Social Order: The Ambitions of Rational Choice Theory and the Weberian Solutions
Bibliography; Index

The Bardwell Press. Tithe Barn House, 11 High Street, Cumnor, Oxford, OX2 9PE, United Kingdom
Email: Tel.: 01865 865 865 Fax: 01865 595 598