Summary - Weber - Class, Status, Party

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The article presents Weber’s argument regarding social stratification in contrast to Marx’s. In his discussion of his theory of social stratification, he outlines three ways in which society is divided: by class (economically), status (socially) and by party (ideologically). He argues that the individual identity is not determined by the class identity, and that status and party identities often cross class divisions. The article begins by detailing the human desire for social power and how, through class, certain forms of power are achieved. He contends that the pursuit of social power is essentially an attempt to acquire social honour. Weber also mentions that power does not always lead to social honour and uses the notion of the American Boss as an example. However, he acknowledges that those who are considered honourable by society often gain social power or have a greater chance to do so. Aware that money or capital also has a large role in the distribution of power, Weber discusses how economic status relates to class. To determine class he used the following three principles: "when (1) a number of people have in common a specific causal component of their life chances, in so far as (2) this component is represented exclusively by economic interests in the possession of goods and opportunities for income, and (3) is represented under the conditions of the commodity or labour markets"(p. 104). Simply put, a person's class is determined by what choices that person or community has in order to sustain comfortable means of living and property is the basic category that Weber believes defines class situation. Class is created through the economic situation of different portions of society, but for Weber, it is an abstraction and can perform no actions of its own; this is where status and party groups come into play. With property being the simplest yet most profitable form of all goods, Weber goes onto detail what he calls, "the market...
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