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Max Weber (1864–1920) was born in Prussia in 1864. His father started his career as a journalist, became a local city official in Erfurt, and then moved to Berlin on his election to the parliament as a National Liberal—the political party that supported the chancellorship of Bismarck and hence the unification of Germany under Prussian rule. His mother was descended from a rich family of international merchants based in Frankfurt. She was brought up somewhat severely in a beautiful villa overlooking the River Neckar and the old town of Heidelberg. She was devoutly religious but in an ethical rather than a superstitious way. In Berlin, she supported the social-evangelical movement whose aim was to improve the welfare of the poor through the work of the ...

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