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

Authors Avatar
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. He showed this by explaining that the classes were involved in relations of exploitation. The property- owning class or bourgeoisie benefit at the expense of the propertyless, leading to a struggle over the distribution of economic resources.

Marx believed that the least developed forms of society were those in which the mode of production could be described as primitive communism. He argued that as technology develops and production expands, so the property relations must change. If they did not, societies would not be able to continue to expand their powers of production. The form of society that was emerging in Western Europe at the time was an especially capitalist one. Starting in the commercial centres of the feudal world a class of private property owners had changed into the most important economic force.
Join now!

Thus in Marx's theory of social change, different stages in the developments were defined in terms of their mode of their production, with each containing elements within it that point towards a higher and complex form of social organisation, and as capitalist societies continued to change socially, Marx argued, exploitation would grow and their superstructures no longer encourage economic growth. A revolution of the workers would have to occur to overcome this. He thought they would become aware of their alienation and attempt to change the conditions that produced it. He also thought that this would establish a ...

This is a preview of the whole essay