Karl Marx and Max Weber Different Views on Capitialism

Last Updated: 20 Jun 2022
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Karl Marx and Max Weber speak about capitalism and social class. They both agree that modern methods of organization have tremendously increased the effectiveness and efficiency of production. However they both have different concept of theories. Karl Marx speaks about Alienation and Critique of Capitalism . Marx argued that this alienation of human work is precisely the defining feature of capitalism.

He regards alienation as product of the evolution of division of labor, private property and the state: When these phenomena reach an advanced stage, as in capitalist society the individual experiences the entire objective world as a conglomerate of alien forces standing over and above them. Marx with Hegelian notion of alienation but developed a materialist concept. For Marx the possibility that one may give up ownership of one’s own labor, one’s capacity to transform the world- is tantamount to being alienation from ones own nature; it is a spiritual loss.

Marx noted that alienation can only be overcome by revolutionary abolition of the economic system based on private property. In his “Preface a Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy”, Marx had expressed this economic dialectic by saying that it was when “ the materials productive forces of society” came into conflict with “ the existing relations of production” that historical upheavals resulted ( Marx, 1976,page 3. ). Marx critique of capitalism is that it still produce inequality, reduces family relationship, destroys small business, enslaves and reduces all human relations to commercial relations.

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Marx states that, for the bourgeois man, the wife is reduced to a mere instrument of production. Moreover, once the exploitation of laborer by the manufacturer has finished, then he is set upon, says Marx by other segments of the bourgeoisie the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawn broker in bourgeois society “capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is dependent and has no individuality (Marx and Engels, 1952, pages 51, 53, 65-70). Marx critique of capitalism was dialectical.

He regarded capitalist society as an unprecedented historical advance from centuries of benighted feudalism. In 1848 Karl Marx wrote the Communist manifesto which was a formal statement of the communist party. The history of all Hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles and we find it everywhere a complicated arrangement of society into various orders, manifold graduation of social rank, (Cohen and Fermon, 448). Marx believed that throughout the past the great societies of the world have all experienced class struggles in all their internal conflict.

Marx felt that the class struggle that exists in illustrated class distinctions in both ancient histories. Marx explained in ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebeians and slaves; in middle ages, feudal lords, vassals, guide masters, journeymen and apprentices. (Cohen and Fermon, 448). Marx makes this point to show that if a knight fought a slave then it was a class struggle, the oppressor vs. the oppressed. In the term of social class Marx’s theories postulate that the owners or means of production exploit those who produce goods and services, while the working class becomes alienated consumers.

Most of it centered upon what has been described as Marx’s oversimplification of the dialectical approach in which history is described as little more than series of conflict between the owning and working classes. Capitalism is the idea of a company or corporation owning and controlling all means bourgeoisie control the socioeconomic system and has the proletariat work under them, if the proletariat wanted change; it was not possible because of how the system was designed. In order to gain a capitalist society, the bourgeoisie must first take complete control of the situation and become distinguished owners in a society.

After they own a big and successful corporation they then have workers in which they train and make their workers believe that in order to survive they must work and brainwashing the workers mind, this is all they will know how to do and will teach their children to do the same, therefore letting the main owners continue to remain the main owners of society. Marx understood this struggle between these two classes, he knew this soon would become unacceptable to workers and they would come to realization of the inequity in their society.

Max Weber theory of class is that capitalist and the proletarian meet in a market and come into it in different ways as purchaser of labor power and as seller, as someone able to wait, not compelled to buy or sell merely to survive another day that’s the capitalist and as someone who must sell his services today or starve. Therefore Marx two classes, in Weber view are distinguished essentially by their relation to a market and precisely by their bargaining power. Bargaining power is matter of monopoly or lack of it. Weber then analyses class mainly in terms of “monopoly”.

To Max Weber, writing in the early 1900s, Marx’s view was too simple –he agreed that different classes exist but he thought that “Status” or “Social Prestige” was the key factor in deciding which group each one of us belongs to. Where we live, our manner of speech, our schooling, our leisure habits, these and many other factors decide our social class. He thought that the way each person thinks about his/her “Life Chances”- if we feel that we can become a respected and highly valued member of the society, then this is likely to put us in higher social class than some others.

Max Weber his studies of rationalization in the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1985) in which he argued that the redefinition of the connection between work and piety in the Protestantism that shifted human effort towards rational efforts aimed by achieving economic gain. He later works, notably his studies on bureaucracy and on the classifications of authority into three types: legitimate, traditional and charismatic. In these works Weber described what he saw as society’s movement toward rationalizations.

Weber believed that alienation document by Marx little to do with ownership of the mode of production but was a consequence if bureaucracy. Antony Giddens in his Introduction to the Protestant Ethic in and the Spirit of capitalism (1985) says Weber’s work can be approached on several levels. It can see as a specific historical thesis, claiming a correlation between Calvinism and entrepreneurial attitudes, or a casual analysis of the influence of Puritanism upon capitalist activity. It can also be viewed as an interpretation of the origins of the key components of modern Western society as a whole.

It can also be seem finally as part of an attempt to identify divergent courses in the rationalization of culture. Weber’s view was that religion answered man’s need for a coherent account of his situation. He focused on religion ideology, in particular the Protestant Ethic and how it brought about rationalization of conduct in everyday life. His ideas had unanticipated consequences foe economic development. Weber was concerned with “the influence of those psychological sanctions which originating in religious belief and practice of religion gave direction to practical conduct and held the individual to it”

Karl Marx and Max Weber in Social Class Most societies throughout history and the world have developed a notion of social class. It is refers to hierarchical distinctions between individuals or groups within society. How these social classes have been determined has been a common topic among social scientist throughout time. Two individuals who have headed this long standing debate are Karl Marx and Max Weber. In this section we will compare and contrast Marx and Weber’s theories on social class; how they determined, their interest and problems that may exist among groups.

Marx first sets up his arguments on class by referring to the historical class struggles. “Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman in a word, oppressor and oppressed (n, d: 474). He believes society has spilt into two classes know as the Bourgeoisie and Proletariat. This is a key point because he defines class by their control over the mode of production. The mode of production refers to the specific organization of economic production in given society. A mode of production includes the means of production o used by society, such as factories, facilities, machines and raw materials.

The Bourgeoisie is those in control of the means of production while the Proletariat must sell their labor. This was referred to as the market exchange value and was reflected in wages. The Bourgeoisie in this society tries to extract as much surplus value as to keep them alive and productive. This capitalist mode of production was the basic of class struggle. The worker or Proletariat approaches work as a mean of survival and not personal satisfaction because the products of labor no longer belong to him. “Modern industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal master into the great factory of the industrial capitalist.

Masses of laborers, crowded into the factory, are organized like soldiers. They are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the over looker and above all the individual bourgeois manufacturer himself (Marx: 479). ” With the growth of industrialization the specialized skills of individuals are no longer useful all of those who do not own a means of production are forced into the Proletariat class. Competition between these workers allows wages to fluctuate often and working conditions worsen. To better these situations the Proletariat form trade unions to keep up rate ages.

He believes humans meet their needs of existence by using labor as a sense of wee being. In this capitalistic system of private ownership the workers are robbed of their self worth and identity. The worker is estranged from the products he creates which will lead to revolution. This idea of revolution is where the objective and subjective interests of class’s interests may be objectively determined. An outsider observer should be able to determine a course of action for someone within that class. In the case of the proletariat it is in their objective interest to revolt.

The reason for this is that most of the individuals within this class group want better conditions of life and work. They want better job security, improved wages and inexpensive consumer goods. The only way to achieve this goal would be revolt, forcing things to change. The problem lies within their subjective class interests which are on a more personal level. The members of the working class believe the bourgeoisie is acting in their best interests and to achieve financial well being they just need to continue to work hard, competing with one another. Some positives of Marx argument is the idea of class exploitation.

He believes that proletariat should revolt due to the goals of the bourgeoisie. He refers to this struggle as the oppressed and the oppressor. This common historical theme of the oppressed and oppressor is covered thoroughly in his argument and he uses a good economical model to show this struggle. In this case it is the working class versus the owners. This type of societal dynamic can be mapped out in most societies. It can be the parent versus the child, boss versus worker, coach versus player, teacher versus student or any other situation in which one may feel oppressed by another.

A Marx idea of class interest is a good basis of social protest and provides the ability to fight exploitation. An obvious negative part of his argument is the simplistic idea of class. He places everyone within two categories and this isn’t so easy. There is an example of the person who runs the factory in which the working class provides labor for. This supervisor can be seen as a member of the working class but does not participate in such manual labor and have such harsh working conditions and is paid more.

On the other hand Max Weber had a problem with Marx’s simplistic view if social class distinctions. He believed that more factors went into determining ones social class along with there being more than two classes. Weber states “The way in which social honor is distributed in a community we may call the social order” (n. d. :181). This social honor is made up classes, status groups and parties. Power may also be derived from prestige or property but do not always run hand in hand. Rich people tend to be more powerful than poor people as well as being held in high regard more often.

Property may bring prestige but it an also come from athletic or intellectual ability. Karl Marx and Max Weber in Capitalism Karl Marx and Max Weber, both born in 19th century and after comparing their sayings and way each one was thinking and analyzed the case of capitalism in societies an affair that still remains a main condition nowadays. Sociology stands through the years on what important persons (Weber and Marx) said in the past and most of others’ ideas are builded that o capitalism and industry, which is still relevant and linked somehow to capitalism.

As we all may have realized in modern society through experience and facts, routine is something that we get used to it from the early years of our existence and routine is what we actually repeat like a music, either weekly or yearly or it might be even more frequently (e. g. daily). In such a period of time, our programmed is full of work, duties, responsibilities, leisure activities and many other tasks that could give as a living, a living which needs a bit everything in order to survive.

During our lives (which are bombed daily from useless information) through the past years decades years, “we” (on behalf of our ancestors) changed that way we view, the way we face, we acknowledge, we define and accept the reality in the way it is. Having an income just for living is not our main goal but it is just one of those many targets we have, probably for a promise to help our families to help our families but still not the main one. In the past, many decades ago, having your home fully or somewhat with just the appropriate furniture could give you a prestige that meant something for the rest of the people in the whole society.

Ti could integrate you in a higher social class and make you more acceptable from an larger scale “audience”. In the modern society social class changed criteria while now a person who is not working is faced off as an insignificant human being. Unfortunately this happens again even if a person works, but his or her job is not a “chic” one, like a top manager etc. Life aims to easy entertainment buying things etc, as consumption is the “central role” of life; and because of that people want to buy and use their available time not only for working but also for having a “personal ife” which everybody has and deserves, society started working more “in ordered to be to afford to buy goods, services, ideas etc”.

This need of everyone who wants to work (for his or her own personal reasons each one), brought to the industrial society the concern of capitalism. Working environments changed as human and natural collapsed. Capitalism is the new “fashion” of every single developed modern society. Capitalism is the field of battle of social classes, the reason of which people with economic case, “rich” people getting richer and poor, poorer.

People with money started giving job opportunities to people with less money and want to work, to people who appreciate life and its advantages and want to live it with pride, respectability and honorableness. In that way,” rich” people where (they are still) using the elbow grease of others in order to earn more money and others where taking just a little income to survive with their families. Here, the two important persons mentioned before, two worldwide know sociologists of 19th century come to give their personal perspective on the fact of capitalism.

Max Weber believes that capitalism is not a significant problem and do not reprehend it as Karl Marx. Weber believed that capitalist development “depended on the systematic application of impersonal rules and regulations in the pursuit of people with money, lead them in the inhuman laws of work which wanted people working (in the past and modern society) in sweatshops for a piece of bread and “mangers” (they) or people owing the machinery and all required things needed, sitting and waiting for their own income against poor people’s elbow grease.

In that sense, Karl Marx theory is quite similar with Weber’s. As mentioned before, Karl Marx believed stronger than Weber that capitalism it was a problem with high significance. He believed that when capitalism occurs, social classes are somehow mixed up and a disparity of them appears in society. He faced in part capitalism with emotional way, trying to give to the workers hope and certitude.

Exploitation of workers was the biggest effect of capitalism and as capitalism was continuing exploitation would not only follow but being increased. Weber’s thesis was supporting the opinion that while capitalism continues, capitalists would benefit more (earnings) but workers wouldn’t earn ever more than what they need to reach the survival level. These cause workers to loose their personality. Capitalism is cause of this case. It’s the main issue and many sociologists tend to analyze it such persons were Marx and Weber

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Karl Marx and Max Weber Different Views on Capitialism. (2017, Mar 19). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/karl-marx-and-max-weber-different-views-on-capitialism/

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