While Max Weber focused on the economical aspects of social evolution, Emile Durkheim focused on the social aspects. Both sensed that there was a need to break away from the traditional ways of life, in order to modernize, and society to evolve. Max Weber's other concerns were focused on capitalism and bureaucracy; the economic and political views of society. Emile Durkheim, however, focused on the social aspects, delving further into the workings of society.
Max Weber's concern with the connotations of people's actions allowed him to understand the evolution to modern society. Weber was the first of many sociologists to attempt to explain the shift of traditional actions to rational actions, by examining the economics and religious factors in many societies.
Weber predicted that in modern society there would be a shift in people's motivation. In modern society, he said, there is rationality, which is goal-oriented; replaced are the past behaviors motivated by tradition, values, or emotion. Rationality has a few aspects, such as the development of science and displacement of religion, impersonality, and the technical rationalization of social relationships. Rationalization refers to increasing human mastery over the natural and social environment, which we can see now in everyday life, with our increased luxuries. .
One of Weber's theories was that social evolution comes about with rationalization. Weber came to realize that rationalization occurs when traditional ways of life have been discarded. But what forces broke tradition's hold on the people's ways of life? Calvinists and Protestants both had, rooted in their religion, the encouragement to abandon tradition in favor of acquiring wealth. After careful study, Weber's hypothesis was that the protestant ethic allowed people to break loose of tradition, while encouraging men to apply themselves, rationally, to their work.