During the 19th century, Europe underwent political and economic change resulting in a shift from craft production to factory work. This was a time known as the Industrial Revolution, in which class division and wage labor were the most foregrounded aspects of society (Poynton). Karl Marx’s theories during this time gave way to new perspectives and different ways of viewing oneself in class positions. Comparisons between social and political structures in the 19th century and the 21st century expose the similarities that have yet to be modified. Marxist theory proved to offer a framework for society to undergo evolutionary change that would put an end to the capitalist mode of production that developed during the Industrial Revolution in Europe (Connelley). Marxism greatly outlines the struggle between different classes and groups belonging to the political world and how this class struggle affects the means of production. Broadly speaking, capitalism is a structure of political inequality and once overcome will lead to communism, inevitably weakening the boundary between classes. Although beneficial for the workers who want to live as free men, the upper class will be placed on that same wavelength. The greater political structure will form into a realm that will abolish the exploitation and oppression of workers, thus placing power in the hands of those who do not benefit from the unequal distribution of wealth. It involves a combination of political and economic factors
Bourdieu argues that although “snob” (Peterson, Kern. Oct, 1996, Changing Highbrow Taste: From Snob to Omnivore, pg.900-907, published by American Sociological Association) tends to be assimilated into “omnivore” (Peterson, Kern. Oct, 1996, Changing Highbrow Taste: From Snob to Omnivore, pg.900-907, published by American Sociological Association), people can still see the boundary between two classes because it is easy to go downward, but going upward is always facing difficulty. It illustrates that upper class people can enter lower class culture easily, however, lower class people are having difficulty to engage with upper class culture because from upper class position, they have enough money to spend in lower class culture. In contrast, lower class people still do not have enough money to spend like upper class people although they can access into the upper class culture. For instance, beer is not considered as an expensive beverage as compared to the upper class usually drink, however people who only afford to buy beer are not affordable to buy such as champagnes as many as they consume
For example, it shapes the nature of religion, law, education, the state and so on. According to Marx, capitalism sows the seeds of its own destruction. For example, by polarising the classes, bringing the proletariat together in ever-increasing numbers, and driving down their wages, capitalism creates the conditions under which the working class can develop a consciousness (or awareness) of its own economic and political interests in opposition to those of its exploiters. As a result, the proletariat moves from merely being a class-in-itself (whose members share the same economic position) to becoming a class-foritself, whose members are class conscious – aware of the need to overthrow capitalism. The means of production would then be put in the hands of the state and run in the interests of everyone, not just of the bourgeoisie. A new type of society – socialism developing into communism – would be created, which would be without exploitation, without classes and without class conflict. Marx’s work has been subjected to a number of criticisms. First, Marx’s predictions have not come true. Far from society becoming polarised and the working class becoming poorer, almost everyone in western societies enjoys a far higher standard of living than ever before. The collapse of so-called ‘communist’ regimes like the former Soviet Union, and growing private ownership and capitalist growth in China, cast some doubt on the viability of the practical implementation
Karl Marx developed his theory on class division by suggesting that all societies have two major classes, a ruling class and a subject class. The ruling class owned a means of production such as land or capital, whereas the subject class did not. Marx argued that this leads to the ruling class exploiting the subject class. The ruling class use a superstructure of the legal and political systems to justify its position and prevent protests by the subject class. In capitalist societies the main classes are the bourgeoisie (capitalist) and the proletariat (working class). In these societies the bourgeoisie exploits the working class through wage labour. The capitalists pay wages to the workers, but make a profit because they pay the workers less than the value of what they produce. Capitalism is the newest type of class society but it will also be the last. Eventually it will be replaced by a communist society in which the means of production
The Communist Manifesto discusses class and class struggle as a vital part of the capitalist system. Marx and Engels state that class is made up of people who are in the same position in relation to the ownership and control of the means of wealth production.(cite) For Marx and Engels the class struggle between the upper class, or bourgeoisie class and the working class, or the proletariat class is the epitome of modern social change. Marx identified three classes: wage for labor, profit for the capitalist and rent for the landowner (Knox, 1988: 160). Since capitalism succeeded in absorbing the landlord class, which left society with only two social classes: capitalists and workers. The Marxist theory of class is opposed by those people who explain class not in terms of ownership or lack of ownership, but in terms of prestige and
Marx's ideas on labor value are very much alive for many organizations working for social change. In addition, it is apparent that the gap between the rich and poor is widening on a consistent basis. According to Marx, the course of human history takes a very specific form which is class struggle. The engine of change in history is class opposition. Historical epochs are defined by the relationship between different classes at different points in time. It is this model that Marx fleshes out in his account of feudalism's passing in favor of bourgeois capitalism and his prognostication of bourgeois capitalism's passing in favor of proletarian rule. These changes are not the reliant results of random social, economic, and political events; each follows the other in predictable succession. Marx responds to a lot of criticism from an imagined bourgeois interlocutor. He considers the charge that by wishing to abolish private property, the communist is destroying the "ground work of all personal freedom, activity, and independence". Marx responds by saying that wage labor does not properly create any property for the laborer. It only creates capital, a property which works only to augment the exploitation of the worker. This property, this capital, is based on class antagonism. Having linked private property to class hostility, Marx
Anthony Giddens (2006) defines class as “a large-scale group of people who share common economic resources, which strongly influence the type of lifestyle they are able to lead.” (pg 300). Karl Marx, a sociologist in the 19th
All human societies have been class based in some way, shape or form and, interpreting this in the most basic way, it can be said that in every known human society there has been a fundamental division between two broad social groups, the buorgeoisie that own and control the means of production, and the proletariat who own nothing but their ability to sell their labour power (that is, their ability to work) in return for wages. The anger and dissent over the differences in social classes has never wavered
Most societies throughout history and the world have developed a notion of social class. It is refers to hierarchical distinctions between individuals or groups within society. How these social classes have been determined has been a common topic among social scientists throughout time. Two individuals who have headed this long standing debate are Karl Marx and Max Weber. In this paper I will be summarizing Marx and Weber’s theories on social class; how they are determined, their interests, and problems that may exist among groups. I will then provide my own critiques of their arguments.
Marx conceived the base and superstructure approach that defines capitalist society. The base relates to all that is a function of production in society and conversely, the superstructure, which can be said to be derived from the base, relates to the values, culture, ideology and the governing bodies of society. The former creates and supports the latter by a process of legitimisation of the economic activities, and in turn, the superstructure ensures the processes remain in place. Class domination plays a large part in this process of organisation; for example, private education providing better opportunities for advancement and primary socialisation into the higher echelons of society. However, a counter argument claims that the state is just as involved in the stresses and “struggles of civil society’’ as opposed to being a mere extension of it for the pure benefit of a particular class interest (Held 2001, in Hall and Gieben 2001, p 113).
Though Marx views the communist revolution as an unavoidable outcome of capitalism, his theory stipulates that the proletariat must first develop class consciousness, or an understanding of its place within the economic superstructure. If this universal character of the proletariat does not take shape, then the revolution cannot be accomplished (1846: 192). This necessary condition does not pose a problem within Marx’s theoretical framework, as the formation of class consciousness is inevitable in Marx’s model of society. His writings focus on the idea that economic production determines the social and political structure (1846, 1859). For Marx, social class represents a person’s relation to the means of production, a relation that he believes is independent of
In the opposite, Weber rejected the economic determinism of Marxism in the understanding of the stratification of the modern capitalist society. For Weber, the capitalist society is stratified in a two different ways from the Marxist description: On the one hand, the class differentiation is not classified merely by the ownership of means of production. According to Weber, class interest not as a given historical attribute to workers and capitalist, but is an ‘average interests’ of different individuals sharing similar market situation and ‘life chance’. Such ‘life chance’ is defined by the capacity of the individual to create utility and exchange value in the market by the utilization of their property. Therefore, class situation of the propertied is not merely defined by the ownership of means of production, but also returns on investment and rental income, which Marx doesn't take into account; for the class situation of the property-less, people is also fragmented by their differential possession of scarce skills, services and knowledge. Class interest is complex and fragmented.
Weber does not feel that the power of a class is a very important issue. Weber feels that classes are only important, within the struggle for power, when they state they are part of their class in their actions. Classes, along with status groups, are just passive members in society. Only if a political party solely represents the class, then it becomes active. This unimportance of classes shows Weber's feelings that the economic issues within capitalism do not effect authority or the struggle for power.
To start of my essay I will compare and contrast between the two theories of Karl Marx and Max Weber on the topic of social class that will be discussed widely. The inequality between people is the basis of the democratic system, which is “a political system”. It is said that “those who have the skills and abilities to perform and produce will succeed in life.” But this belief is the assumption that all people are given equal opportunities and advantages. During the 19th century Karl Marx and Max Weber were two of the most influential sociologists who developed their own theories about why inequality is maintained with social class in society. Many might argue that there are many similarities and differences between these sociologists theories, however although Marx’s and Weber’s both examined similar ideas. This essay will compare the differences and similarities between Marx and Weber’s theories of class within society, which are based on economic inequality and capitalism. And lastly this essay will demonstrate that Max Weber comes across as the greater theorist as he can relate his concept more towards today’s society. Anthony Giddens (2nd edition) quoted that “You need greater equality to achieve more social mobility.” Therefore social class is referred to a group of people with similar levels of wealth, influences, behaviours and status. Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American Politician states that the “ignorant classes are the dangerous classes.”
Human societies have been class based in some way and the class factor has been the most basic dividing or differentiating factor between broad social groups. In the economic sphere that Marx’s theory focuses on, there is a class that own and control means of economic production which could be referred to as the upper class, and there is the class that maybe own nothing, but their ability to sell their labor power in return for wages which could be referred to as the middle or low class. From that understanding, and based on the conflict theory, one might argue that unequal distribution of resources and access