What Are the Differences and Similarities Between Marx's and Weber's Understandings of Capitalist Society?

2955 words 12 pages
Essay: What are the differences and similarities between Marx's and Weber's understandings of capitalist society?

Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Max Weber (1864-1920) are two remarkable founding fathers of Sociology. Both of them spent huge effort to study the rise of capitalist society. Marx created conflict theory paradigm called Marxism while Weber inspired the symbolic interactionism, both paradigm are still influential nowaday. This paper would try to discuss the differences and similarities of their understanding of the historical development of capitalist society; their view on social stratification on capitalist society and their understanding on the operation and future prediction of the capitalist society in three parts.
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According to Marx & Engel (1848): “The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms……Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other — Bourgeoisie and Proletariat”.
Capitalist society has two primary classes: bourgeoisie and proletariat. The bourgeoisie is the capitalist who own the means of production and employ wage labor, the proletariat is the worker who own nothing but wage labor, which they are forced to sell to the capitalist in exchange for means of daily subsistence. Although Marx had analysis the formation of “petty bourgeoisie”, the rise of a new categories of worker who possess management and administrative skills, however, according to Manifesto of the Communist Party (Marx & Engels 1848) this class does not constitute a ‘middle class’ in the sense that: “The lower strata of the middle class …… sink gradually into the proletariat, partly because their diminutive capital ……is swamped in the competition with the large capitalists, partly because their specialized skill is rendered worthless by new methods of production. Thus the proletariat is recruited from all classes of the population.” The tendency of capital


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