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Social Class

Essay by   •  April 2, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  1,048 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,018 Views

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The term class has been used to describe groups within a given society that are ranked hierarchically. Anderson (2010). Throughout this paper, I will discuss Karl Marx, Max Weber and Pierre Bourdieu theories on social class. Social class provides the basic structure of society (Calhoun et al., 2007). During the nineteenth century, Karl Marx and Max Weber were two of the most influential sociologist.

Marx's perspective was not based on the conflict of ideas, but rather on the conflict of classes. This conflict is the results of a new mode of production. According to Marx, history would consist of eras of modes of production. He states that these modes of production are primitive communism, slave society, feudalism, capitalism, and then socialism and communism Anderson (2010).

Class for Max Webber is a combination of positions including property, occupation, education authority, income and prestige. Moreover, class is both objective and subjective and it can be understood as an aspect of consumption and as an aspect of production Anderson (2010).

Bourdieu identifies what he calls four different forms of capital economic, cultural, social and symbolic. According to Bourdieu, these four forms of capital empower or impede individuals in their attempts to gain a position in society. He uses the term habitus to indicate what he calls a system of disposition, which are shared by all individuals who are products of the same conditioning. Bourdieu states that taste is an important part the cultural capital that each individual acquires because of being a member of a particular social class. An individual social class from Bourdieu point of view shapes every aspect of that individual's life including the most seemingly personal and intimate aspect such as food Anderson (2010).

Marx, Weber and Bourdieu theories on social class began with problems of social relations that determine access to economic resources. Social class and relations between classes were important issues for both Weber and Marx. Both saw these social relations as affecting the material interest of actors. They saw class relations as the potential basis for solidarities and conflict. Like Marx, Bourdieu maintains that members of different social classes struggle with one another over resources in order to maximize their interest. Anderson (lecture notes, 2012). These three influential sociologists also had a different standpoint on social class. Marx sees two casual paths market exchange and the process of exchange .Whereby Weber sees only one market exchange and on the other Bourdieu sees a complex interaction between market economic capital, cultural capital, social and symbolic capital. In addition to their different perspective on social class Anderson (lecture notes, 2012). Unlike Marx Weber felt that status as well as class affected an individual's ability to exercise power over other Anderson (2010). Also unlike Marx, who put exploitation and the resulting f class struggle at the center. Weber and his followers have shown very little interest in placing either exploitation or class struggles as the social means whereby capitalism was brought

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