Karl Marx and Max Weber are among the famous theorist who formed the pillar of the study of society. This come about in their contradict theories the conflict and protestant ethic respectively. It is understood that these two people lived in different eras, Marx being exposed to conditions and perspectives of the eighteen century whilst Weber dwells in the nineteen century where noticeable changes on the fast emergence of innovative technology, and a path where modernity take its toll (the industrial revolution) (Tui, 2014).
The theories of Marx and Weber were applicable in their times with regards to the type, functions and interactions existing within society. As follows is the discussion of their main arguments on the contrary of their perspectives on the basis of society. According to Karl Marx, society of all hitherto is the result of social stratification and conflict.
The organized economic activities and mode of production, determined the division of labor which causes the formation of two classes, the bourgeoisies and the proletariat (the rich and the poor) showing opposition (antagonistic interaction).
The proletariat (working class) controlled the modes of production while the bourgeois owned the means of production (Brym & Lie, 2007). The conflict theory by Marx, argued that a position in a productive system is the basis of peoples conflict. The rich attained privilege of accessing revenue and surplus whilst the poor did not resist, but remained subordinate. The bourgeois also maintained their interest by suppressing and maintaining the subordination of the proletariat (Worsley, et al., 1970). A revolution originated on the fact that men realized how capitalism deprives them of self-independence and freedom. Capitalism also increased inequality within society and enhanced further subordination of the working class. Marx believed that in the future there will be classless societies ( (Worsley, et al., 1970)).
Therefore modern society is the result of the breakdown of the feudal system; the proletariats were being absorbed by the bourgeois to work in their factory, hence bringing society to the end of communism (Tui, 2014). But also a classless society still experienced antagonistic, a trend of dependency between these two class, that is the bourgeois depend on the manual labor and productivity of the proletariat and vice versa, for their stability and co-existence. In contrast, Weber, in his theory, the protestant ethics, believed in hard work, personal achievement and motivations. It focuses on individual actions and most importantly an individual’s knowledge and skills to bring about transformation of new society. In other words people consciously making decision at important times or junctures (Tui, 2014). People whom abided to protestant ethics and maintain the spirit of capitalism succeeded economically. He emphasized the importance of the growth of the service sector of the economy, with its many non-manual workers and professionals.
He also articulated that capitalist development was not just caused by favorable economic conditions but religious beliefs also plays an important role (awareness to the society of values and virtues: right and wrong) of facilitating great capitalist growth. He argued that Marx, fails to see that people in society can improve their condition in terms of education, technology to attain a better standard of living. Weber, also showed the flaws of the Conflict theory whereby he said that a revolution is not necessarily the solution to dissatisfaction and grievances. There are medium of resolving matters peacefully whereby the government is required to improve such conditions (Weber, 2005). In light of the above arguments, there is also controversy and contradiction in their discussion of class (created by eligibility and accessing to product of economy), status (social honor or professional position) and power (the ability and opportunity to control) (Worsley, et al., 1970).
According to Marx, in society, there are two distinct classes: the bourgeois and the proletariat. These classes were inherited and there is nothing that can be done apart from revolution that can make the differences. The revolution would result in a classless society where the state come to own the means of production. According to Marx, whoever has a class will have a complimentary standard of status and power. For him class is the originator of all kinds of status in society and source of power. He also stated that traditional status ascribed was used to acquire power such as the members of the noble family were born and entitled to rule. This class of nobles subsequently has high social status (Brym & Lie, 2007). Weber strongly argued that class, status and power were three totally different categories. Status and power were achieved through ones commitment and successes.
It favored the concept of meritocracy which allows people to rise or fall to a position that matches their talent and efforts ( (Brym & Lie, 2007)). All of these were independent of each other. It is not necessary of an individual or group of people in high class to have a corresponding level(s) of status and power. In general, class is directly related to how people have access to part of the society’s resources. Class should be related to your ability to buy power or your market position (Tui, 2014). Such as a proletariat can become a very important figure in government just because of his/her qualification, oratory skills and achievement. For example a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), commissioner of police, captain. These people worked their way like every proletariat from scratch and because of their ambition and hard work they are able to become successful, even though they do not have a royal or ruling background
After having compared the two theories of Karl Marx and Max Weber, the latter theory of protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism by Max Weber is considered the best and useful theory to understand and explain the dynamics of my local society. Kiribati society is an example of an egalitarian society whereby people are equal and have the same rights and opportunities. The decision making process and access to government’s resources and all opportunities are carried out following established processes and procedures. Everyone is given a chance to talk for themselves or by a representative (Teitiniman, 1993). As mentioned earlier, access to opportunities are open to everyone such as position in government and non-government organization through advertisement.
Eligible candidates announced and a screening test is conducted to screen out best candidates. It takes one’s effort, hardship and commitment towards professional development in order to improve life conditioning, status and attainment of power for example people acquiring scholarship for higher qualification and to qualify a higher post with high salary in the government institution (Itaia, 1979). According to Koae (1993) and agreed by Macdonald (2001) there are existing mediums of solving any grievance and dissatisfaction. These are put up in writing to the concerned department and or are taken up to court. Communities’ views and perspectives are considered as a means of improvement to policing strategies such as that adopted by the Kiribati Police Services. Elections of leaders are conducted on the basis of the public vote towards candidates (Brechtefeld, 1993). As Weber highlighted, class, status and power are achieved which is correspondingly true of my Kiribati society. Peoples’ hard work irrespective of religious beliefs and traditional social class and status, have equal and equitable access to opportunities which determine social and economic standings in my society.
Brechtefeld, N., 1993. The Electoral System. In: H. V. Trease, ed. Atoll Politics. Christchurch: Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, pp. 43, 44, 45. Brym, R. J. & Lie, J., 2007. Sociology Your Compass for a New World. third ed. California: Thomson Wadsworth. Itaia, M., 1979. Rebirth Te Mauri, Te Raoi, ao Te Tabomoa. In: KIRIBATI Aspects of History. Suva: Institutes of Pacific Studies, The University of the South Pacific, pp. 123,124. Koae, T., 1993. Corrupt and Illegal Electoral Practices. In: H. V. Trease, ed. Atoll Politics. Christchurch: Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, pp. 105-110. Macdonald, B., 2001. Cinderellas of the Empire. Suva: Institute of Pacific Studies, The University of the South Pacific. Teitiniman, T., 1993. Serving the People. In: H. V. Trease, ed. Atoll Politics. Christchurch: Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, pp. 343, 344, 345. Tui, R., 2014. Social Structures in Modern/Contemporary Societies. Suva: s.n. Weber, M., 2005. The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism. New York: Taylor & Francis e-Library,. Worsley, P. et al., 1970. INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY. 1 ed. Victoria: Penguin Education.
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