Compare and Contrast Marx and Weber’s Analyses of the Development of Capitalism

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Compare and contrast Marx and Weber’s analyses of the development of capitalism

Capitalism is defined as ‘An economic and political system in which a country 's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit.’ It is based on the division between two classes, one of which owns the labour of the other. Not only do the upper classes, or the bourgeoisie, own the means of physical production but also the means of ‘mental production’. They control and manipulate society through the rule of education, religion and the media. Althusser distinguishes between repressive state apparatuses and ideological state apparatuses and argues about how the bourgeoisie manages to maintain its rule. He argues that the repressive includes the police and the army in which use physical force to control the working class as opposed to the ideological apparatuses such as the media and religion which control the development of ideas. A key component of capitalism is that the working class are forced to sell their labour in exchange for wages in order to survive. However, they do not receive an equal exchange for the labour they produce, but only the cost of subsistence. The difference of what the bourgeoisie receive from the labourers and the amount they pay back is called the surplus value, meaning the profit they make.

Max Weber was one of the founding fathers of sociology and contributed highly to our knowledge of how society works. Weber’s work can be highlighted by referring to his study The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, first published in 1905 (22 years after the death of Karl Marx in 1883). Weber argues that the Protestant Reformation introduced a new belief system of Calvinism (a form of Protestantism founded by John Calvin during the reformation) which promoted a high work ethic and which eventually led to the rise in capitalism. Calvinists believed that God preordains the ‘elect’ meaning of who would be saved after death and go onto heaven and



Bibliography: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (1932). The German Ideology . Moscow: David Riazanov. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (1848). Manifesto of the communist party. London. Max Weber (1978). Economy and Society. California: University of California Press. Thomas Hobbes (1988). The Leviathan. London : Penguin . Phil Bartle. (2007). Marx vs Weber. Available: http://cec.vcn.bc.ca/cmp/modules/cla-mweb.htm. Last accessed 10th October 2012. Louis Althusser. (1970). Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. Available: http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/althusser/1970/ideology.htm 970. Last accessed 10th October 2012 Michael Lowy. (2006). Marx, Weber and the Critique of Capitalism . Available: http://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article1106 . Last accessed 10th October 2012. No Author. (1999). Max Weber. Available: http://uregina.ca/~gingrich/s30f99.htm. Last accessed 10th October 2012. D. Sayer, Capitalism and Modernity: An Excurses on Marx and Weber, pg. 4, London: Routledge, 1991. Cuff, E. C., W. W. Sharrock and D. W. Francis, Perspectives in Sociology, third edition, London, Routledge, 1992.

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