Tradition" as a category of sociological analysis has been used most frequently as a simple contrast term to "modernity" and as such has taken on almost a pejorative meaning. Even the greatest of all comparative sociologists, Max Weber, tended to use the term "tradition" in a quite restricted and largely negative way. Traditionalism for Weber and for much of modern social science refers to a situation where one takes the past uncritically as a model for unimaginative imitation. Nothing new arises from tradition. Only when tradition is broken through by rationality or charisma is change possible.

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