Karl Marx Vs Max Weber
Max Weber and Karl Marx Conceptions of Class and Status
Max’s ideas of the social structure are one dimensional while Webster’s are two dimensional. This difference is very significant as one seems to describe the society more than the other. According to Weber, the society has the social class and the social status or the social honor. On the other hand, Marx describes the social structure of the society as one comprising of the capitalists or the bourgeoisie, the workers or proletariat and the petite bourgeoisie (18). With definitions, Webster’s social structure defines today’s society better.
When Marx describes the social structure as one categorized into three groups, he categorizes these groups in economic terms, that is, those willing to buy labor and those willing to sell it. On the other hand, Weber’s structure is both economic and non-economic (religion, prestige and honor). The modern society is more accommodative of Weber’s structure. In an instance, the religion is one that groups people in a society. The Muslims, whether poor or rich, tend to be more social with each other as compared to a rich Muslim man and another rich Christian.
It is after categorizing themselves into religions, or other groups that the people further categorize themselves on economic basis. In other circumstances, a rich Muslim capitalist will tend to hire more workers (proletariats) as compared to other groups. Although this may also be considered as discrimination or favoritism, it can also be described as social grouping on social class basis.
Another difference evident between the two is that Marx seems to advocate that people are only money oriented thus they base on money. On the other hand, Weber felt that people can either be driven by money or other non-monetary issues when forming social classes. In the modern society, there are those who are capitalists while others are workers. However, people cannot belong in these two extreme groups. There are workers and capitalists who are both honorable. For example, the chief executive officer (a worker) of a particular company and the owner of the same company are two people in two different classes yet of the same status.
The above point can also be redefined and explained that one cannot belong to one extreme group as Marx puts it. One can be a worker but also belong to another status due to his/her religion, prestige or even race. It is therefore a challenge categorizing today’s society into three extreme categories.
Weber’s social class and status structure may apply to all the societies while Marx’s structure may fail to. For example, in a country like India or China, Marx’s social structure is very evident (20). The capitalists and the worker’s are very evident. However, this changes when the Indians, for example, move in another country. The capitalist-worker structure is no longer applicable but rather the social status comes into being. Regardless of the social class, the Indians come together and support one another when in a foreign country. In the African countries, most Indians are capitalists regardless of what class they were when they were in the home country India.
Weber’s social structure describes today’s society more than Marx’s concept. Unlike the earlier days when society was classified on economic terms, today’s society is observant on other key areas in order to make life easier depending on the society.
Edles, Desfor L. & Scott Appelrouth. Sociological Theory in the Classical Era: Text and Readings. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press, 2009. Print.