Wolfgang Mommsen

Wolfgang Mommsen was a distinguished historian and expert on the social and political theory of Max Weber. He held a range of prestigious posts at the Universities of Cologne and Düsseldorf before becoming the head of the German Historical Institute in London between 1978 and 1985. He is perhaps most famous for his biography of Weber and his controversial interpretation of his political views. Mommsen argued that Weber was not a liberal, and that his concept of charismatic authority and ideas on democracy lent themselves readily to an authoritarian interpretation, with parliamentary democracy seen as instrumental towards the power interests of the German state. Mommsen also wrote widely on German and British economic, political and diplomatic history, with a particular focus on a comparative history of British and German economic and political modernization. Polity has published his important book The Political and Social Theory of Max Weber.