Karl Marx and Max Weber

Topics: Marxism, Karl Marx, Sociology Pages: 5 (1673 words) Published: February 2, 2013
Karl Marx and Max Weber
Andy Moss
Karl Marx and Max Weber are two important names when thinking of sociological theory. Both men had strong views about our society. Weber’s approach to studying social life will be looked at. Then, Weber’s study of rationalization will be the main point of interest. His theory of rationalization showed us why people acted as they did. As with Weber, Marx’s approach to studying social life will be examined. Next, his theory of the capitalist mode of production will be explored. This paper will discuss his theories of the struggles between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, and how they could be solved. Max Weber

Max Weber was another intelligent thinker of the last century. His areas of study were primarily concerned with social action and rationalization. Social action is how we behave in everyday life. Ritzer says that behavior occurs with little thought, and action is what we do based on a conscious decision (2010:31). He says that Weber was not concerned with behavior that had no thought behind it, such as touching a hot stove and pulling away. “Weber was interested in situations in which people attach meaning to what they do” (Ritzer 2010:31). Weber’s major concern was rationalization. First, there needs to be a clear definition of what rationalization actually is. A dictionary will define rationalization as applying logic or reason to something. That is what Weber is also trying to do; he is trying to figure out why people do what they do, and what reason do they have for doing that. He lays out for different types of rationality. First there is practical rationality, which Ritzer defines as how we deal with difficulties on a day-to-day basis, and how we find the quickest and easiest way to reach our goal of getting to one point to another. (Ritzer 2010:34).I think what this means is how we deal with daily problems that we face. For example, if class started in thirty minutes, and I was forty minutes away, I would use practical rationality and drive faster than normal to get there. It seems as if this type of rationality is about trivial problems. They are problems that have a quick solution. The next type is theoretical rationality. This type does not offer an actual action or solution like practical rationality does. The purpose of theoretical rationality is to get rational understanding of the problem instead of giving an answer to the problem. If we stick we the example I provided earlier, theoretical rationality would say, I should understand why I was running late in the first place. The third type is substantive rationality. Ritzer says, “the choice of the most expedient action is guided by larger values rather than by daily experiences and practical thinking” (Ritzer 2010:34). An example of this would be if someone was going on vacation and they always prayed before they left. To a practical rationalist this would be stupid, but to the substantive rationalist it is not because they place value in that prayer for safety. The final type is formal rationality. This type is a choice based on rules, regulations, and laws that apply to everyone. (Ritzer 2010: 35) This was Weber’s most important type of rationality. Most people try to obey the rules, and make decisions based from the rules that are put before us. Through this type, if a person was to get mad and want to kill another person, they would not do it because killing is against the law. Weber believed that formal rationality led to the rationalization of the West (Ritzer 2010:35). I think by that he means how we got to where we are today based on the rules, laws, and regulations that have been laid out before us. Karl Marx

Karl Marx was a brilliant man, who had some interesting views about our society and the people in it. According to Ritzer, Marx believes that “People are endowed with consciousness which is the ability to link that consciousness to action”(Ritzer 2010:23). I believe what Marx is meaning...

Cited: Marx, Karl. “Estranged Labor,” From Economic & Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. p.
70-81. October 27, 2011
Marx, Karl. “Manifesto of the Communist Party,” (Part I), from the Communist
Manifesto.1888. P. 473-485. October 27, 2011.
Ritzer, George. “Contemporary Social Theory & Its Classical Roots.” 2010. P. 23-35.
October 27, 2011
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