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Compare and Contrast Marx and Weber's Theories of Social Class

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In this essay I will compare and contrast the social class theories of Karl Marx and Max Weber. 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 bourgeoisie 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 over countless centuries, and has aroused many upheavals of society throughout history and has been subject to countless number of debates. Two theories that stand out are those of Karl Marx and Max Weber, both with the same fundamental core of the underlying connection between social relations to resources and material interests, but contrasting in different ideologies.

The two main stems of sociological concepts are Positivism and Phenomenology. Both Functionalism and Marxism are Positivist theories. This means that philosophies are built by using scientific research methods to create structural perspectives. Positivism is called macro sociology because it looks at society holistically; it also emphasises the power of Society and how this affects man's behaviour. Positivism was a philosophy from the Modern Era when society was industrial, England's culture untolerating, and the mass media conservative and pro-establishment. Role in society was extremely important; it was traditional and genders specific.

Functionalism provided a static view of society. It was rooted in the work of Emile Durkheim, a French Sociologist and during the later stages, Talcott Parsons. Although functionalism was not a dominant theoretical perspective in sociology until the 1940s and 1950s, it first emerged during the 19th Century. Marxism was founded by a German philosopher, economist and sociologist, Karl Marx. Fredrich Engels also contributed to development the works. Marxism offered a radical alternative to the functionalism perspective and was developed in the 1970s. Both perspectives of Marx and Durkheim, aspired for a Utopian society.

Functionalism views society like a biological organism. The parts or institutions of the organism or society function appropriately to ensure the whole structure works efficiently and effectively. The whole has greater power than the individual parts. The three main aims and objectives of functionalism are to maintain order, stability and equilibrium in society.

Marxism became increasingly influential due to; the decline in functionalism, its promise to provide answers (which functionalism did not) and its mood reflected that of the times. It originally consisted of three related



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