Karl Marx and Max Weber have different views upon social class in contemporary societies.
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Karl Marx and Max Weber have different views upon social class in contemporary societies. In Karl Marx's perspective, social class has a two-class system whereas Max Weber argued that social class has three dimensions of stratification: class, status and party. In this essay, I will explain and analyse why Weber carried out this theory that these three dimensions are distinct entities and cannot be resolved under the single concept of class. A "class" is any group of persons occupying the same class status. Unlike Marx's two-class system, Weber divided "class" into four categories: propertied upper class, propertyless intelligentsia (white-collar workers), the petty bourgeoisie, and the manual working class. A propertied class is placed at the top because they own economic power, social status and political influence. A propertyless intelligentsia is a professional class. It was placed next because they not only have relatively high social status and some political influence, but also have higher position in the labour market. and ownership of lesser forms of property than propertied class (e.g. stocks and shares). A petty bourgeoisie was placed third because they have less property ownership, less social status and less political influence (e.g.
Since such status order existed, very strict rule of dividing people into different status groups is inevitable. Criteria for entry into a status group may take forms as sharing of kinship groups or certain levels of education. The most typical form of a status system with a high level of closure is a caste system. The caste system was so extreme that it completely excluded outsiders to enter the status group by restricting members marrying people from other status groups. Status distinctions are guaranteed not only by law and convention, but also by religious and races. The elite self-recruitment in modern Britain is also a type of social closure. E.g. Those children whose family has a higher status could attend public schools, they are also more likely to go to Oxbridge and be employed in higher positions such as judges, senior civil servants whereas children from lower status could not achieve. . Class and status groups can be differed in certain ways although their situations are closely linked. Economic ownership is not a always a factor of status qualification whereas it is a factor of class qualification.
Considered those factors, he carried out the theory of three distinct aspects or dimensions: class, status and party. Class represents economic situation, status represents social honor and esteem, party represents social power. From the analysis above, it is obvious that these three dimensions are distinct entities, hence, cannot be classify into single concept of class, according to Marx. However, Weber's multi-dimensional approach to the concept of social stratification has its strengths (as I trust we have seen), but it also has some potential weaknesses. Weber's pluralistic approach to social stratification makes it very difficult to specify stratified social groups in society. The boundaries between various groups are almost impossible to specify and we tend to end-up with a stratification system that is highly fragmented, there is no way of knowing where this fragmentation could stop. E.g. Women are one status group, they having a great deal in common but considered in class terms, they man not have very much in common in terms of their life chances, experiences. A working class woman may only have the biological fact of her sex in common with an upper class woman. Therefore, in my opinion, neither Marx's and Weber's theory of social stratification has adequately reflected the distinction of social class.
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