Class Conflict in South Africa

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Soc1005s Assignment 1 JMSJAS001
Jason Jamieson
21/8/2008

South African society has undergone rapid change over the last two decades, it has shifted from an almost socialist apartheid society whereby segregation and class struggle were rife to a post apartheid society that is still home to segregation and class division but has changed constitutionally to allow for freedom and expression free of oppression.

South African society is however still facing inequality that is increasing rapidly, this inequality is caused by political, social and economic factors. This essay will compare the Weber and Marx theories of class as well as relate these theories to the present day class divisions of South Africa.

Weber’s theory of class is one where class as well as status causes conflict. Society is divided into four main classes these classes are divided by status rather than wealth and the conflict caused by this ‘status’ can be due to various factors. Things such as education, lifestyle and consumption can distinguish status within a Weberian society. Life chances are also regarded as status in a Weberian view as those who did not receive life chances that someone else received will immediately view that person as having a higher status than they do, this example is prolific in the novel by Rhampele whereby people who escaped township living were frowned upon by the people who remained behind.

Marx’s theory of class struggle is slightly different to Weber’s in the sense that class division is based on exploitation rather than status, exploitation being the control that the bourgeois have over the working class, this control is maintained because the bourgeois have control over the means of production. Marx views the free trade of capitalist economies as ‘exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusion, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.’(Marx, Karl and freidrich `engels...
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