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