Marx vs. Weber: a Comparative Analysis

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Karl Marx v. Max Weber: Comparitive Analysis

C. Wright Mills places both Weber and Marx in the great tradition of what he calls the "sociological imagination" a quality that "enables us to grasp both history biography and the relationship between the two within society". (Mills, 12) In other words both theorists were dealing with the individual and society not either one to the exclusion of the other. Mills further writes that both Marx and Weber are in that tradition of sociological theorizing that leans towards sociology as "a theory of history,"(Mills, 30) sociology as (in this tradition) an encyclopedic endeavour, concerned with the whole of man 's social life. Thus these two giants of sociology have a considerable amount in common
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(Layder, 35) This theory illustrates Marx 's belief that social activity revolves around the way in which society produces goods in order to survive. When Marx speaks of social production, he refers to the way by which we produce things. For him it is the concrete, material social production that determines the ideas that circulate in society. In other words, for Marx, material determines ideas. Marx, and comparatively Weber as well, support the idea that "the economic foundation of society is the most important factor in understanding its overall functioning, and for social analysis generally." (Layder, 35) Extending from this view of economic activity as the most important factor in human society, Marx goes on to describe the division of society into two major classes, and how the struggle between two classes is the driving force behind the historical and social movement of mankind. Marx and Engels argue in The Communist Manifesto that the sole factor stimulating progress in a capitalist society is the exploitation of one class by another, with one class controlling the means of production, and the other being the driving force behind that production, yet receiving little in recompence. Throughout history,according to Marx, society has been based on the oppression of classes, but the lower class must be sustained at some level in order for the oppression to continue at the same rate. However in an industrial
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