How is Webers view of the class structure different to Marxist theory?

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Nishtar Hussain

How is Weber’s view of the class structure different to Marxist theory?

In our contemporary society, the definition of ‘class’ has been a widely, disputed matter. There have been two main theories and explanations of ‘class’, they describe what factors determine social class as well as what it would mean society. The two predominant classifications are by Karl Marx and Max Weber. In this essay I plan to examine these two theories of class and how their notions differ from one another.

Karl Marx’s philosophy of ‘class’ was that there were two characterisations of social class, the ruling class and the lower, subject class. Marx defined these two classifications as the ‘bourgeoisie’ and the ‘proletariat’ or in much simpler terms ‘capitalists’ and the ‘working-class’. Sociologist Tony Bilton (1996) explained that Marxist theory outlined that the bourgeoisie use a mode of production in the form of capitalism to suppress the proletariat (working class). The owners of production (bourgeoisie) use the workers (proletariat) as manual labour and excessively use them. Sequentially, they wage their workers the smallest sum possible (Contemporary Example: Minimum Wage Act) in order to make the highest potential sum in return for themselves, hence are manipulating the working class. An evaluation upon Bilton’s concept (1996) would be that the Haralambos and Holborn (2002) approve of his conception however they introduce the contradictory concept called ‘Mutual dependence and conflicts’.

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The Marxist theory also suggested that within a society administrated by capitalists, bourgeoisie and the proletariat, they are both dependent upon on one another. This supply and demand chain is as follows; the bourgeoisie depend on the proletariat to provide employment to increase their standard of living, their social, economic and cultural status. The proletariats are reliant upon the bourgeoisie for financial endurance; nonetheless, the shared reliance does not necessarily mean they are at all equal in social standing. This may be epitomised by Marx’s theory of the nature of ownership and production in a capitalist society. To summarise from ...

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