25 Feb 2014

Must Know Max Weber's Concepts on Social Stratification

(Max Weber)
Max Weber was a German sociologist who was interested in the areas of economics and politics. He attended the University of Heidelberg, but after three terms, he left for military service. Two years later, he returned home and attended the University of Berlin, where he completed his studies (Ph. D) and became a lawyer. He also received a teaching position at this institution upon graduation.

Growing up, Weber was conflicted to find an identity as his father was a bureaucrat who enjoyed the earthly pleasures, and his mother was a Calvinist who lived an ascetic life. Because of having to deal with these dueling ideologies most of his life, Weber was able to fuse both religion and politics into his works.

When it came to stratification, Weber saw it as multidimensional and refused to boil it down to just economics, as he felt that economics, status, and power were all factors for stratification. He said that some people may rank high on one or two of these, but low on the others.

His theory of class, status, and party:


Weber said that a class (economic order) is not a community because it is only a group of people who share the same class situation, such as economic inequality or economic prosperity. As well, class is determined by economic production or your type of work (lawyer vs. construction worker).
"(1) A number of people have in common a specific casual component of their life chances, insofar as (2) this component is represented exclusively by economic interests in the possession of goods and opportunities for income, and (3) is represented under the conditions of the commodity or labor markets. This is 'class situation.'" (Economy and Society)
Weber believed that status (social order) was a community. He said that status was revealed by someone's way of life and the type of goods they consumed and was usually determined by their class status. The lifestyles of those at the top are different than the lifestyles of those at the bottom.
"[Status situation is] every typical component of the life of men that is determined by a specific, positive or negative, social estimation of honor." (Economy and Society)
As with party (political order), Weber said that all it wants is power and viewed it as a broad entity, where it ranged from political parties to social clubs. To him, parties were the most organized entities of stratification. He says that parties don't always represent class and/or status but usually does.

This is Weber's system of stratification, where he believed that any single one of these factors can determine your position and affect the way you lived. Do you agree with him? Write your thoughts below.

If you want to learn more about Weber, you can click here to buy his work, Economy and Society, from Amazon.

Just to be totally transparent with you, this article includes affiliate links. What this basically means is that if you decided to use the provided links to buy the product, I will get a small commission from your purchase, at no extra cost to you.

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