Weber and Marx: Inequality

Topics: Sociology, Marxism, Max Weber Pages: 2 (711 words) Published: March 22, 2013
Marx vs. Weber in today’s society
Marx and Weber have not lived within the same social conditions we are facing today, and one question that may arise is, whose approach to social class and inequality is more compatible with today’s society? Taking a closer look at Weber’s analogy, and the concept of “life chances”, one may attempt to conclude that his approach is more flexible and fitting in today’s society. Weber offers a micro level analysis of inequality at the individual’s level, which makes his approach more versatile. Furthermore this approach can explain the changes in regards to class determination by the market situation over time through the concept of life chances. Marx is known for putting forth a theory of classes that is centered on economical grounds where “society […] is […] splitting up into two great hostile camps […]: bourgeoisie and proletariat ” (Marx, 1978, p.474). Belonging to either class will depend on whether you own the means of production or not; from this system stems inequality. Weber takes a step further then Marx, and discusses other social forces then economical one, that influences social class and inequality. Weber put central importance to the concept of power, “the chance of a man or a number of men to realize their own will in a communal action even against the resistance of other who are participating in the action” (Weber, 2003, p.95). The way power is distributed creates “three discrete but interrelated realms [classes, status groups and parties]” (Weber, 2003, p.94). These three dimensions in relation to power are used to explain inequality. Distribution of power among classes leads to unequal access to material resources since classes are “purely economically determined” (Weber, 2003, p.99). As for status power, one’s “social estimation of honor” (Weber, 2003, p.99) determines the capacity to exercise power upon those who view him or her as a superior. Class and Status power “influence one another and they influence...
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