Max Weber’s theory of rationality and the messaging of Soviet and American cold war space programs

Al-Saud, Lama Mansour Bandar Abdulaziz (2023) Max Weber’s theory of rationality and the messaging of Soviet and American cold war space programs. Masters thesis, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

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Abstract

By measuring intentionality through social action, Weber’s Theory of Rationality can reveal the motivations behind the message. Examining the messaging of Cold War space programs through this theoretical framework can reveal hidden layers of complexity, adding richness to our understanding of their meanings. The Soviet and American manned missions culminating in Project Apollo stressed ideology over exploration; spaceflight was a delivery mechanism for state-sponsored propaganda. However, NASA’s post-Apollo, un-manned scientific missions became opportunities to find meaning in the cosmos; they sought knowledge of the universe and offered some in return for audiences they could only hypothesise. The superpower space race was conducted in a context of political and existential threat that manifested in the messaging. Using rhetoric to disguise their intentions, their messaging provides layers of meaning concealed by nationalistic narratives. Weber’s model illustrates that a ‘value narrative’ broadcast by space programs with the goal to deceive or manipulate reveals the pragmatic rationality of the sender and the message. After Apollo, NASA’s scientific missions reversed the messaging dynamic of the manned missions. The messages exist as manifestations of their belief in the intrinsic value of humanity, and a desire to create meaning in the cosmos. Weber’s model reveals that messaging sent out to space with little or no chance of engagement reflects the belief, and value-rationality, of its senders. Determining intentionality is critical to meaningfully decipher the message. Weber’s model reveals the superpowers’ cynical use of value narratives to achieve calculated outcomes, subsuming science and exploration into opportunities to manipulate or control. It also reveals the value-rationality of NASA’s later scientific missions which sought deeper understanding—the ‘conscious belief in the value for its own sake’—to bring meaning to the cosmos. Thus, by revealing the concealed, Weber’s Theory of Rationality provides a valuable framework for understanding truth in messaging.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords: space, space race, soviet union, Unites States of America, Max Weber, messaging,
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
E History America > E151 United States (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
Q Science > QB Astronomy
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Masters Dissertations
Depositing User: Lama Al - Saud
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2023 08:04
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2023 12:21
URI: https://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/id/eprint/2639

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