Compare and Contrast Marxist and Weberian Theories of Stratification

Topics: Social class, Sociology, Marxism, Max Weber / Pages: 7 (1524 words) / Published: Mar 22nd, 2011
Q: Compare and Contrast Marxist and Weberian Theories of Stratification.
The purpose of this essay is to compare, contrast and critically evaluate Marxist and Weberian theories of stratification. To do this effectively this essay must explain and consider the main features, claims and perspectives of both Karl Marx and Max Weber. O’Donnell (1992) defines social stratification as “the division of a society or group into hierarchically ordered layers. Members of each layer are considered broadly equal but there is inequality between the layers.” Functionalist Durkheim (1858-1917) argued that the reason for the existence of stratification was because it was functional or beneficial to the order of society.
According to Browne et al (2009), Karl Marx (1818-83) theorised that class was determined by a number of factors including income and the relationship that a certain group had to the means of production. He saw society to be divided into two groups, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie employed the proletariat to work for them and used the workers labour to produce their surplus value, in turn only paying the workers the minimalist amount needed to survive, therefore making a greater profit whilst exploiting the proletariat. According to Moore et al (2009), Marx argued that the conflict between the powerless, poor majority and the rich, powerful minority was a strong driving force of most societies.
According to Fulcher et el (2007), the early works of Marx were greatly influenced by his theory of ‘Alienation’. Marx suggested that the means of production had the ability to alter economic relations therefore too altering people to change their labour from a creative act to a distorted and dehumanised activity. This change ended in people becoming dissatisfied with paid employment and rather looking as it as more of an essential means to ensure their survival. Marx argued that because of this, work and its products become ‘Alienated’ or detached,

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