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Compare and Contrast Marx and Weber's view on Stratification

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200301327 Sociology Essay for Nisrine Mansour Compare and Contrast Marx and Weber's view on Stratification The grouping of people together according to their status within society in relation to the groups they belong to is as old as society itself. Social stratification has been the starting point of many arguments about how and why societies are divided. Sociologists speak of social stratification to describe inequalities that exist between individuals and groups within human societies. Often stratification is thought of in terms of assets and property, but it can occur on the basis of other attributes, such as gender, age or religious affiliation. Karl Marx and Max Weber are two of the most important writers of their times. Their work laid the foundations for many contemporary writers today. In the field of social stratification, there are both similarities and differences in their work. Marx believed that in all stratified societies there are two major social groups: a ruling class and a subject class. Furthermore he states that the principle difference between these groups is the ownership and control of the means of production, which causes a conflict of interest between the two classes. ...read more.


He felt that the basic contradictions contained in a capitalist economic system would lead to its eventual destruction. The proletariat would overthrow the bourgeoisie and seize the means of production, which he saw as the source of power. Property would be communally owned and, since all members of society would now share the same relationship to the means of production, a classless society would result. If we forget the basic contradictions of a capitalist society, Marx believed that there were elements in the natural development of a capitalist economy that would accelerate its downfall-these factors would result in the polarization of the two main classes. I.e. the gap between those who own the means of production and those who work on it would widen and become greater and greater. The work of Max Weber represents one of the most important developments in stratification theory since Marx. Like Marx, Weber saw class in economic terms. He believed that classes develop in market economies in which individuals compete for economic gain. For Weber, a class is a group of individuals who share a similar position in the market economy and by virtue of that receive comparable economic rewards. ...read more.


Marx attempted to reduce all forms inequality to social class and argued that classes formed the only significant groups in society. To the contrary, Weber argued that there exists a more complex interaction of factors when it comes to determining social stratification. It is important to realise that there have been many attempts at explaining social stratification since both Marx and Weber formulated their work. Both Marx and Weber were instrumental in starting the ongoing and increasingly fractured debate concerning social stratification. Contemporary writers have used their writings as a basis for understanding modern social divisions. Both the analysis of gender divisions and race divisions have taken on the views of the above classic theorists, thus trying to undermine the generally accepted view that class and other social divisions are a functional necessity in modern western societies, a false view which ascribes degrees of success via a reward system based upon ones occupational achievements. Social stratification will continue to be a greatly debated matter, but what is clear is that the works of both Karl Marx and Max Weber are instrumental in understanding the key elements to the debate and will provide the fundamental grounding for years to come. ...read more.

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