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Introduction to Sociology

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Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
VU
Lesson 23
THEORIES OF SOCIAL CLASS AND STRATIFICATION ­ II
Max Weber (1864-1920) built his approach to stratification on the analysis developed by Marx, but he
modified and elaborated it. Like Marx, Weber regarded society as characterized by conflicts over power and
resources. Yet where Marx saw polarized class relations and economic issues at the heart of all conflict,
Weber developed a more complex, multidimensional view of society.
Social stratification is not simply a matter of class, according to Weber, but is also shaped by two other
aspects: status and power. These three overlapping elements of stratification produce an enormous number
of possible positions (inequality) within society, rather than the rigid bipolar model, which Marx proposed.
According to Weber class divisions derive not only from control or lack of control of the means of
production, but from economic differences, which have nothing directly to do with property. Such
resources include especially the skills and credentials, or qualifications, which affect the types of job people,
are able to obtain.
Weber believed that an individual's market position strongly influences his or her `life chances'. The market
positions (capacities) people have in terms of the skills they bring to the labor market as employees, explains
the rewards they will receive. Where people have good market capacity they will have very good life chances:
these chances include income, perks, and pensions together with less tangible benefits such as security of
job, pleasant working environment and considerable autonomy at work.
Those in managerial or professional occupations earn more, and have more favorable conditions of work,
for example, than people in blue-collar jobs. The qualifications they possess, such as degrees, diplomas and
the skills they have acquired, make them more `marketable' than others without such qualifications.
Managers of corporations control the means of production although they do not own them. If managers can
control property for their own benefit ­ awarding themselves huge bonuses and magnificent perks ­ it
makes no practical difference that they do not own the property that they so generously use for their own
benefit.
Status in Weber's theory refers to differences between social groups in the social honor or prestige they are
accorded by others. Presently status is being expressed through people's styles of life. Markers and symbols
of status--such as housing, dress, manner of speech, occupation ­ all help to shape an individual's social
standing in the eyes of others. People sharing the same status form a community in which there is a sense
of shared identity.
While Marx believed that status distinctions are the result of class divisions in society, Weber argued that
status often varies independently of class divisions. Possession of wealth normally tends to confer high
status, but there are many exceptions. Olympic gold medalists, for example, may not own property, yet they
may have very high prestige. Property and prestige is not one way street: although property can bring
prestige, prestige can also bring property.
Power, the third element of social class, is the ability to control others, even against their wishes. Weber
agreed with Marx that property is a major source of power, but he added that it is not the only source.
With time, industrial societies witness the growth of the bureaucratic state. This expansion of government
and other types of formal organizations means that power gains importance in the stratification system.
Party formation is an important aspect of power, and can influence stratification independently of class and
status. Party defines a group of individuals who work together because they have common backgrounds,
aims or interests. Party can be influenced by class but can also influence the economic circumstance of party
members and thereby their class. Party membership cuts across class differences. There are parties based
on religious affiliations and nationalist ideals and may include the `haves' and `have-nots'. There could also
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Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
VU
be groups possessing effective political power without economic leverage (military, trade union). Therefore
inequality could there due to political power.
In Weberian perspective society can be divided in 2+ classes as below:
Upper class
UPPER CLASS
Upper middle class
Middle-middle class
MIDDLE CLASS
Lower middle class
Skilled manual workers
Semi-skilled workers.
WORKING CLASS
Unskilled manual workers.
The poor
THE POOR
Weber's theory comes closer to explaining the dynamics of stratification in modern societies.
Weber anticipated the proliferation of classes, with a new class of white-collar employees, administrators,
technicians and civil servants, who are growing in number and importance.
Property relations are important (Marx) but the market position and marketability is decisive in determining
an individual's class position.
Weber rejected Marx's view that the workers (or employees) have nothing but their labor to sell to the
highest bidder. The reality is that:
Workers possess skills.
The distribution of skills can be controlled (keep it scarce).
Increase skill marketability.
Comparative picture of the conflict approach by Marx and Weber
Marx
Weber
Relationship to means of
Focused more on the market
production is all important.
position of those in employment.
Increasing polarity
Growth of white-collar class that
between classes and
would mitigate against the
revolution.
collapse of capitalism.
Class all embracing
Separate political status factors
fact of life.
to come into play.
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Table of Contents:
  1. THE ORIGINS OF SOCIOLOGY:Auguste Comte, The Fields of Sociology
  2. THE SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE:Society affects what we do
  3. THEORETICAL PARADIGMS:Salient Paradigms, Critical Evaluation
  4. SOCIOLOGY AS SCIENCE:Empirical, Verifiable, Cumulative, Self-Correcting
  5. STEPS IN SOCIOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION:Exploration/Consultation
  6. SOCIAL INTERACTION:Social Status, ROLE, The Social Construction of Reality
  7. SOCIAL GROUPS:Primary and Secondary Groups, Reference Group, Networks
  8. ORGANIZATIONS:Utilitarian Organizations, Coercive Organizations
  9. CULTURE:Universality, Components of Culture, Symbols, Language
  10. CULTURE (continued):Beliefs, Norms, Cultural Diversity
  11. CULTURE (continued):Culture by social class, Multiculturalism, Cultural Lag
  12. SOCIALIZATION: HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, NATURE, Social Isolation
  13. UNDERSTANDING THE SOCIALIZATION PROCESS
  14. AGENTS OF SOCIALIZATION:The Family, The School, Peer Groups, The Mass Media
  15. SOCIALIZATION AND THE LIFE COURSE:CHILDHOOD, ADOLESCENCE
  16. SOCIAL CONTROL AND DEVIANCE:Crime, Deviants, Stigma, Labeling
  17. THE SOCIAL FOUNDATIONS OF DEVIANCE:Cultural relativity of deviance
  18. EXPLANATIONS OF CRIME:Sociological explanations
  19. EXPLANATIONS OF CRIME -- CONTINUED:White-Collar Crime, Conflict Theory
  20. SOCIAL DISTRIBUTION OF CRIME: EXPLANATIONS, Gender and Crime
  21. SOCIAL STRATIFICATION: INTRODUCTION AND SIGNIFICANCE
  22. THEORIES OF CLASS AND STRATIFICATION I:Critical evaluation
  23. THEORIES OF SOCIAL CLASS AND STRATIFICATION II
  24. THEORIES OF CLASS AND SOCIAL STRATIFICATION III
  25. SOCIAL CLASS AS SUBCULTURE
  26. SOCIAL MOBILITY:Structural factors, Individual factors, Costs
  27. THE FAMILY: GLOBAL VARIETY, Marriage Patterns, Patterns of Descent
  28. FUNCTIONS OF FAMILY:Reproduction, Social placement
  29. FAMILY AND MARRIAGE IN TRANSITION:Family is losing functions
  30. GENDER: A SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION, Gender socialization
  31. GENDER SOCIALIZATION:Role of family, Gender Stratification
  32. EXPLANATIONS OF GENDER INEQUALITY:Conflict Explanations, Feminism
  33. FUNCTIONS OF SCHOOLING:Cultural Innovation, School Tracking
  34. ISSUES IN EDUCATION:Low Enrollment, High Dropout, Gender Disparity
  35. POPULATION STUDY AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE:Crude Birth Rate
  36. THEORY OF POPULATION GROWTH:Theory of Demographic Transition
  37. POPULATION PROFILE OF PAKISTAN:World Population Growth
  38. POPULATION PROFILE OF PAKISTAN (Continued):Age Distribution, Sex Composition
  39. IMPLICAIONS OF POPULATION GOWTH:Additional GDP needed per year
  40. POPULATION POLICY:Goals of Population Policy, Objectives, Strategies
  41. ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIETY:Global Dimension, Historical Dimension
  42. ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES:Preserving Clean Water, Clearing the Air
  43. SOCIAL CHANGE:Social change is controversial.
  44. CAUSES OF SOCIAL CHANGE:Culture and Change, Conflict and Change, Modernization
  45. MODERNITY AND POST MODERNITY:Cultural Patterns, Post-modernity