Marxian Theory versus Weberian Theory
Karl Marx and Max Weber both offer valid approaches to social class in modern capitalist society, though there are very different from each other.
The capitalist society is a type of society in which the private ownership of the ‘means of production’ is the dominant form of providing the things needed to survive. What distinguishes capitalism from other types of society is the emphasis on the rights of property and the individual owner’s right to employ capital, as she or he thinks fit.
Karl Marx’s approach was, at first, the most convincing theory of social class. However the Neo-Marxists (the later generation Marxists) have developed the same ideas but in different ways. So today there is no single Marxian viewpoint.
Marx believed that economic processes are of great importance in society, such as the harnessing of natural resources, producing goods, developing new technologies and establishing a division of labour in the workforce. These are important because in order for these things to happen, people in society have to come together. Therefore they enter into social class relationships.
Social classes came about when society developed a more specialised division of labour and introduced private property.
Marx argued that under capitalism there are two major classes:
1. The Bourgeoisie (capitalists)
2. The Proletariat (the workers)
These two classes are defined by their relationships to productive resources, such as land, factories, machinery, raw materials etc. these are known as ‘means of production’.
The Bourgeoisie is the owner of the ‘means of production’. Therefore they have a much higher and more powerful economic position in society. Workers can only live by offering their labour to the capitalists. This division creates major class conflict.
According to Marx the proletariat create the wealth by the sweat and toil, but their employers seize most of the economic rewards. This is known as the LABOUR THEORY OF VALUE.
Marx has three contradictions:
1. Polarisation of social classes. This is where Marx thinks that the proletariat will fall further behind the bourgeoisie. Class divisions will become more polarised as ‘intermediate’ classes merge with either bourgeoisie or the proletariat.
2. Social Alienation....