Sociology - Class

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Major Essay
Critically evaluate both Karl Marx’s and Max Weber’s theories of social class. How do these theories contribute, if at all, to an understanding of the class structure of Australian society?

It is important for us to understand how our society became what it is today, thus understanding how we interact with each other and what affect an individual’s social class status has on their life chances, employment, social interaction and other key factors that will affect their life. There are currently a great number of theories that are available to explain social class and aspects relating to the interaction of these classes. There are two main theories that most of the others have been built on, these two theories come from the work of Karl Marx and Max Weber.

Both sociologists have agreed that economical factors were crucial in the shaping of social class and the inequalities of society. The key difference within these two theories is that Marx believes that two groups within society are important in understanding the workings of society, his groups are divided by the ownership of the means of production (property assets). Where Weber believes there are many more important groups and strata within those groups that need to be understood. Weber realised that there was other groups that needed to be recognised, as there is important conflict within Marx’s two classes, which needs to be understood to comprehend how the society operates.

Within a society there can only be so many aspects that can be used to categorise classes and thus a limited number of classes to be apart of. An aspect that can be used to divide up class as that of market capacity, there are three that are important to the stratification of people. These are: Ownership of property that is used for the means of production, possession of education or technical qualifications and the ability to use your manual labour power. [1] Another characteristic that people can be



References: ❖ Bilton, T., Bonnet, K., Jones, P., Lawson, T., Skinner, D., Stanworth, M., Stephens, P., Webster, A., (2002) Introductory sociology, 4th edition, Macmillan, London. ❖ Crompton, R., (1998) Class and Stratification- An introduction to current debates, 2nd Edition, Polity Press. ❖ Giddens, A., Held, D., (1982) Classes, power and conflict- Classical and contemporary debates, Macmillan education LTD, Hong Kong. ❖ Joyce, P., (eds) (1995) Class, Oxford University Press, New York ❖ Jureidini, R., Poole, M., (2003) Sociology-Australian Connections, 3rd edition, Allen and Unwin, Sydney. ❖ Van Krieken, R., Smith, P., Habibis, D., McDonald, K., Haralambod, M. & Holborn, M. (2000) Sociology: Themes and perspectives, 2nd edition. Longman, Melbourne. ❖ Weber, M., (1978) Economy and Society, University of California Press- Berkeley. ----------------------- [1] Giddens, A., Held, D., (1982) Classes, power and conflict- Classical and contemporary debates [2] Giddens, A., Held, D (1982) Page: 160 [3] Bilton, T., Bonnet, K., Jones, P., Lawson, T., Skinner, D., Stanworth, M., Stephens, P., Webster, A., (2002) Introductory sociology, 4th edition [4] Van Krieken, R., Smith, P., Habibis, D., McDonald, K., Haralambod, M. & Holborn, M. (2000) Sociology: Themes and perspectives, 2nd edition. Page:55 [5] Crompton, R., (1998) Class and Stratification- An introduction to current debates, 2nd Edition [6] Bilton, T.,et all. (2002) Page: 100 [7] Joyce, P., (eds) (1995) Class [8] Weber, M., (1978) Economy and Society. Page: 302 [9] Crompton, R., (1998) Page: 33 [10] Jureidini, R., Poole, M., (2003) Sociology-Australian Connections, 3rd edition. Page: 145 [11] Bilton, T., et all (2002) Page: 99 [12] Jureidini, R., Poole, M., (2003) Page: 124

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