Social class

We are aware that there are a variety of different types of stratification however social class is the main area of division in people. A number of different theories have been made to bring together an explanation on the ways social class is viewed and how society notices this effect. I will give comparison of Marx and Weber’s perspectives on social class and inequality will be made, as we know it is quiet debatable on who’s view is correct but I will compare and contrast the similarities and differences finally weighing up a discussion to see both sides of the views. The main difference between Marx & Weber is that Marx concentrates on the hardship of class and he sees the economical status and ownership side for example: he sees a variety of differences in status; education, gender, religion or simply just based amongst the skills you have. He believes that class can be judged through how much money you earn & ownership of businesses or properties or both. According to (H.Bradley 1992), he stated “that classes would never mix due to their internal division. For example again, business and property owners had a similarity in the position of the class than people who were poor and couldn’t afford to keep a property. There was a barrier of these classes mixing due to their difference of their economical view. (H.Bradley (1992) Weber however sees the importance of status with a much more complex view on class as he looks at a range of different social factors such as education, medicine, jobs and hobbies that make an impact on inequality.

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It was argued by Marx that there are two main forms of social classes; subject class & ruling class. Marx put across these two classes as the “Bourgeoisie & Proletariat or capitalists and the landless wage workers” (Bilton et al, 1996, pg142). According to Bilton (1996) It was believed by Marx that the bourgeoisie uses an approach of production in the capitalism form to distress the proletariat, were as the production owners bourgeoisie use workers that are proletariat labour for their production of their valued items. The wealthy (bourgeoisie) pay the poor (proletariat) with low paid amount of cash to make their profits of the highest value possible. This means that Marx’s theory depends upon the relationship of the person of the production that makes an outcome of their class in the internal workplace & also the external society. (Leo Bradly Library, Haralambos & Holborn 2002 pg 34) Marx & Weber agree with Biltons ideas but, they also have a concept of contradiction called Mutual dependence and conflicts. The way the society is run both the wealthy and poor benefit and have dependence of one another.

The wealthy depends upon the poor’s labour to increase their value of production & the poor depend upon the wealthy for financial dependence. Having stated this, it doesn’t mean that the wealthy (bourgeoisie) & the poor (proletariat) form equality in status. This could be demonstrated in Marx’s theory through production & ownership in a society which involves capitalism. Weber agreed with the theory of Marx’s class distinction between the wealthy & the poor there was an argument being made that the understanding of social inequality was needed in terms of categories and numbers which cannot be capable of reducing nothing more than to the relation of economic property for example; the person who owns the factories or land is seen as important person in the position they are socially however this is only one way of maintaining social stratification. It was understood that Weber showed more interest in one person individual value of the market, this meant their skills, educational level, how much knowledge they have. Having these skills this one person will have a chance to experience more opportunities to increase their living standard & push their career forward. “Skilled manual workers, for example, will be more highly rewarded then unskilled laborers because of their training & expertise, while the middle- class groupings have various levels of qualification, education & training to offer.”(H Bradley (1992: pg197).

Weber made a significant difference to Marx’s theory; he believed in groups with held a status. class was defined as “unequal distribution of economic rewards” where as a status group was an “unequal distribution of social honor” (Giddens, 1991, pg212) According to Haralambos (2002 pg34) a status group is described as a “group made up of individuals who are awarded a similar amount of social honor and therefore share the same status stratification” (Haralambos & Holborn (2002), pg 37). In the present British Society social class is greatly influential on our everyday lives it affects each day of career, health & housing. In Britain during the 1990’s there wasn’t much of a great change in sources that a trend of class inequality being decreased. According to Haralambos and Holborn (2002) close attention was paid to the ‘closing gap’ of inequality for example the socio-economic group & attributes of employment was influenced by social class for many centuries. Repeatedly the working classes have only been given the chance to work in an unskilled occupation or one which was half skilled, given that their class showed their knowledge & educational level they were unable to move up the socio- economic hierarchy, this matches Marx’s idea of a culture with capitalism involved. There are many ways on how Marx & Weber’s theories are influential in the Modern Century in today’s British Society. Marx’s Social Stratification and class theory played an important part on how we live our lives in this modern society today. Marx’s view was social class is based the things that you own or may not for example you own more than one property you are seen as a upper class.

The nature of people is that if you are from the same classes locate in a similar area, then you may for example attend clubs or educational institutions parents send their children to will be in with the same class this creates a barrier of mixing with other classes as they will be a division of communities. According to Marx he named people who own businesses, capitalists & he named the people who worked for these business owners, proletariat. This shows that Marx judges class by ownership of a resource that is economical. Marx’s view on capitalists & proletariat class can be seen on our living ways in the modern society as the ones who live away from everyone are the rich, this may show inequality in our society. For people from the higher class locate in other areas as they see this division as a preference. People of the working class simply lack affordability to locate in the same areas as the upper class. This brings in the expense of these houses as working class cannot afford it parents will not be able to afford to live in these expensive areas which means they will have to send their children to schools in their surroundings. The parents that can’t afford to live in a decent area are at a disadvantage. (Giddens 1991) Furthermore, Marx gave us a lot of other perspectives & class descriptions; class was used to explain were groups of people located. This theory of location can be seen in modern society, as it is based on the class of people it shows where this person maybe living. Marx also stated that social class is made by economic process & capitalism. Marx’s idea can be seen in today’s society as capitalism plays a vital role in society. If a person owns a business or a property they have more chance of being seen in the upper class. It was also said by Marx that social class can be used in a critical point of view. This idea is applied in this modern time as people are stereotypical and state who’s rich or poor. (Bilton et al 1996) Weber argued that as various classes existed, with social respect or status is the important factor during a decision of the class the people are in. Marx felt that the key factor was wealth when a class is being determined.

Weber agreed on the importance of wealth, however his idea was that Marx’s view was not complex enough & that it was too simplistic. Weber theory was that there was alot more to determining someone’s social class then to purely judge it on their economical status. He felt that respect & power should be considered, & that judging a person on their economical status isn’t enough. (Taylor et al 1997) Marx’s points are useful about class, however Weber’s points were more complex more detail was applied of why we may easily match into one class than the other one. His idea came across as in order to be put in the right direction of judging someone’s class you would have to know more about them other than their ownership. According to Weber, the lifestyle of a person or way they may behave relates to class a lot more. (Giddens 1991) In my opinion I think this theory fits in correctly in how our lives are lived today. Someone’s lifestyle depends upon whether or not they could afford they will experience luxuries for example taking a holiday, having the extra money to spend or even buying something new. When someone sets their lifestyle out this is when they choose to associate with people who have similar or same interests as each other. People who share the same interests are more likely to be friends and locate near each other. It’s like they only associate to that one type of friend.

The concept of close living was in a distance from Marx, but on the other hand this was explored into more detail to make us see that economical status doesn’t only just determine a person’s class. If similar interests are shared then these people are more likely to be around each other, friendship is usually made through what their hobbies are for example, playing trumpet or live concerts etc. Through this inequality is shown between a lot of people because, people might not be able to afford to attend live concerts. Similar interests assume the reason why different classes tend to be around each other more. In Weber’s theory he talks about life chances that people may have or not. These life chances are along the lines of the basis of health care, education, career opportunities etc. The people that experience different life chances are the people that are in a different class. This section of Weber theory is used quite well in today’s modern society especially in the Caribbean due to there are a lot of us who know that we haven’t got the connections of class to help reach a certain educational institute or have a decent job.

On the other hand there are people who have connections within their family who can help them further their future. (Haralambos & Holborn 2002) In conclusion, although Marx and Weber have made useful explanations on class description, I feel that Weber has explained better how people get separated into different classes. This is because Weber talks about a range of different social factors for example; medicine, education, jobs & hobbies that made an explanation on why there is a lot of inequality. Looking at Weber’s theory it seems that inequality is something we might never be able to take away. The reason for this is because, some people set out to start out with an advantage for example living in a wealthy area like kings park with both parents & complete access to education, health care & career opportunities and other people may start out with poverty with a single parent who doesn’t make enough money for survival even with the help of benefits. It is debatable who is correct because Marx wrote he’s theories in the 1860’s and 1870’s and maybe life was judged with the economical status and ownership in the 1800’s. Weber wrote he’s theories in the early 1990’s maybe he started to see that lifestyle point of view that Marx never saw in the 1860’s and 70’s.

Book: Haralambos & Holborn 2002 (Leo Bradly Library)
Anthony Giddens, 1991
William H. Bradley

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