Compare and contrast the explanations of social change of Karl Marx and Max Weber. Which do you favour and why?

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

Compare and contrast the explanations of social change of Karl Marx and Max Weber. Which do you favour and why? Karl Marx (1818- 93) thought social change is what was needed for a better society, and to get social change he believed there must be class conflict. Marx's major concern of social change was economic change. His most well known work dealt with class conflict, the opposition between the capitalists also known, as the bourgeoisie who are the people responsible for controlling the land, factories, etc. and the working class, which are sometimes referred to as the proletariat, are the workers that are being exploited by the bourgeoisie. Marx aspired to build a science of society, but did not describe himself as a sociologist. It was partly for this reason that it was not until the following generation that most of his work began to be recognised. The growth of the European labour movement inspired Marx's work, as did the British materialist tradition. He argued that the existence of private property was what divided people into their social classes and tried to show how and why these classes were inevitably drawn into conflict with each other.

Middle

The observer must interpret it. All observers, chose particular aspects of reality to give them meaning and significance. Weber believed that these concepts that give meaning to the world come from different cultural values. He suggested that they vary according to social groups and change over time. Because there are no universal values, there can be no universally valid scientific concepts. Therefore reality can only ever be known and understood from value and time relevant points of view. Also in this way, he distinguishes between factual judgements and value judgements. According to Weber, the most important types ideal types of social action. This emphasis on action shows a contrast to Marx's theory. Weber has identified four types of action as the fundamental building blocks for sociology. The first is instrumentally rational action, which is when people adopt a purely technical means for the attainment for their goals. For example a business owner will act in a way, which is most efficient for his or her company to make them earn the most money. The next is value rational action- this is action that is rational is relation to some irrational chosen value.

Conclusion

Marx's emphasis of objectively determining laws with the assumption that culture existed merely as a passive reflection of material forces is what Weber specifically opposed. Weber believed that this emphasis diminished the active role of the individual. Weber argued that sociology has to be based on understanding the meanings of people different types of actions as previously discussed rather than trying to analyse human action from external points of view. It is for this reason that I would favour Weber's theory. He focuses more on the each person and their individual actions and points of view, instead of seeing society as combined into groups of different classes. I feel that Weber would gain more valid findings from his research for the same reason. Weber criticised Marx's theory as he felt that social change is always 'open- ended', based as it is on the unpredictability of human action. Marx attempted to predict how people would react in any given context and Weber found this impossible. It would mean that sociology would always lack the predictability of action conditioned by laws and would therefore defy his suggested theory. 1519 words Victoria Basye- J.S.S Part 1 Module- Introduction to Sociology 01/11/03

The above preview is unformatted text

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • Over 150,000 essays available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Over 180,000 student essays
  • Every subject and level covered
  • Thousands of essays marked by teachers

Related University Degree Social Theory

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and contrast the pluralist and elitist accounts of political power.

    3 star(s)

    It is true the unions had previously been able to hold Labour to ransom due to their huge influence, but it is clear here that the 'circulation of elites' was in process. Blair has maintained Millbank power over the Labour party by his selection of candidates for example in the

  2. Compare and contrast Goffmans and Foucaults explanations of how social order is made and ...

    . Foucault clearly believes that a lot of this is to do with discourse and that this provides assumptions and that it moulds into everyday practises and relationships. He also believes that different historical events and times are important to making social order as well as changes that can

  1. Compare and contrast Goffmans and Foucaults explanations of how social order is made and ...

    (Staples, et, al., 2009, pg50). In contrast, Foucaultâs work, he suggested that individuals are an object of knowledge, looking into past historic documents of differences in power For in order for Social order to be made and remade; individuals have to be talked and written about to allow opinions and thoughts to be spoken through discourses.(online activity 23)

  2. Are issues of Social Class still relevant in modern society? Explore the issues involved, ...

    In an attempt to compensate for children thought to be at a disadvantage due to social 'class', measures were adopted by the government, to redress the imbalance of educational attainment. Following a report by the government advisory committee in 1967 (The Plowden Committee), extra teachers and additional money for facilities

  1. A Critique of New Social Movement Theory.

    Struggles over the workplace environment are not opposed to but continuous with most demands of the Green movement. Most of the worst effects of environmental pollution are anyway visited upon working-class people. Likewise with the peace movement. That demands greater physical security, indeed human survival itself (a "materialist" demand in

  2. Max Weber. Weber's writing had an influence on structural functionalism, critical theory, some ...

    He also became aware of machine politics and the necessary role of bureaucracy in 'mass democracy.' His attempt to promote liberalism in Germany was guided partly by his observations concerning American democracy, in particular, his view that the German president's power should be strengthened to counteract the power of the Reichstag.

  1. Consensus perspective

    Humans are compelled to act in terms of their constraints impose by the economy, and passively respond to impersonal forces rather than actively construct their own history. Thus the proletariat is 'compelled' by its economic situation to overthrow the bourgeoisie.

  2. Using examples, distinguish between what Weber means by 'Value rational and 'Goal rational actions.

    a lay person was taught how to press the right buttons on the machine then surly he could treat anyone. An example of that is in modern medicine with the aid of machine doctor's diagnose patients and with the aid of machines they treat the illness, if a layman was

  • Over 180,000 essays
    written by students
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to write
    your own great essays

Marked by a teacher

This essay has been marked by one of our great teachers. You can read the full teachers notes when you download the essay.

Peer reviewed

This essay has been reviewed by one of our specialist student essay reviewing squad. Read the full review on the essay page.

Peer reviewed

This essay has been reviewed by one of our specialist student essay reviewing squad. Read the full review under the essay preview on this page.