The Concept Of Class Weber’s Perspective of Class

TheConcept Of Class: Weber’s Perspective of Class

TheConcept Of Class: Weber’s Perspective

MaxWeber believed that social class is the major source of conflicts.Weber’s perspective of class can be understood better by analyzingthree major concepts, namely dominance, power, and societal action.Weber defined the concept of power as the actors’ ability to theirwish in the society (Shortell,2014). Membersof the society with have the capacity to command available resourcesin a given domain. Economic power increases one’s capacity todirect production, dedicate consumption, and monopolize accumulation.Societal power may include legal, political, economic, and socialpower.

Weberdefined domination as the exercise of authority, which isaccomplished after the possession of power. Domination is dividedinto three types, which include tradition, charisma, andrational-legal (Ritzer,2011). Thecharismatic type of domination includes the use of coercion,inspiration, leadership, and communication to play the central rolein the processes of coordination and planning. Traditionaldomination, on the other hand, is based on inherent metaphysicalquality, and natural quality. This type of authority functions insocieties that have rigid forms of hierarchy. The rational-legalpower exists in a bureaucratic society and it is exercised on thebasis of experience and knowledge (Shortell,2014).

Theconcept of societal action is based on some shared belief. However,actors are motivated by shared interests rather than the sharedpurpose (Shortell,2014).

Webercame up with three aspects of class. The first aspect is the causalcomponent of the actors. Secondly, the causal component is based oneconomic wealth and interests (Shortell,2014). Third,the causal component is represented under the conditions of commodityand labor market. Weber held that the possession of resources thatare accumulated by advantage within the marketplace was the majorcause of distinctive standards of living in the society. This impliesthat people are put into different classes depending on the amount ofmaterial resources that possess. Weber held that people with materialresources have privileged access to sources of wealth creation, whichmeans the capacity to create wealth could be used to differentiatebetween classes. Weber categorized the property-less people dependingon the type of services they offered in the labor market, and theclasses include the unskilled, semi-skilled, and skilled workers(Shortell,2014). Theseclasses were compensated differently, which created a difference intheir standards of living. According tom Weber, societal action takeplace when the workers recognize the differences in their opportunityand wealth and the differences can be attributed to the outcome ofthe distribution of economic power or property (Shortell,2014).

Themain difference between the perspectives held by Weber Marx Weber sawsocial class as being based in three factors (including wealth,power, and prestige) while Marx related class to the means or factorsof production. This allowed Weber to classify society into severallayers as compared to Marx who held that the society had two layers(Bartle,2015). Inaddition, Weber was opposed to Marx’s idea of primarily materialfoundation or the basis of the social action. This is because Weberdid not believe that a revolutionary action by proletarian as Marxproject would result from any structural contradictions (Shortell,2014).

Weberis considered as the bourgeoisie Marx because he holds that membersof the society are mainly classified on the basis of their power tomanipulate the means of production. Therefore, Weber’s perspectiveholds that the society has those who own means of production as theirprivate property and those who offer labor to bourgeois.

Typesof authority

Thethere types of authority defined by Weber fall under the concept ofdominance and include traditional authority, legal-rationalauthority, and charismatic authority. Under traditional authority,leadership is considered to be hereditary (Shortell,2014). Undercharismatic authority, leadership is based on specific characteristicof the leader. The rational-legal authority is exercised in abureaucratic society where leadership is based on the knowledge andexperience of an individual.

Durkheimhelp that members of the society are moral and they are held togethersentiments brought bout by solidarity. Mechanical solidarity occurswhen people feel connected by the similarity of their lifestyle,beliefs, education, and work. Traditional authority is the mostappropriate type of authority that is applied in a mechanicalsolidarity because the mechanical type of solidarity operates thebest in a small a scale or traditional societies (Ritzer,2011). Organicsolidarity is characterized by interdependence among members of thesociety. This occurs in a complex society where members of anindustrialized and technologically advanced society depend on eachother. The legal-rational authority is the suitable type of authoritythat can be applied in the organic solidarity. This is because thelegal-rational authority does not give obedience to any leader toindividual leaders, but to a set of principles.

Inconclusion, the entire concept of Weber’s social stratification isbased on social classes, where individual members of the society areput into different classes depending on their ability or lack ofability to control factors of production. Weber held that there is nosingle feature that could lead to the definition of an individual ina specific system of stratification. Basically, Weber’s concept ofsocial classes is based on the idea that social stratification is anactual reflection of unequal distribution of authority of power.


Bartle,P. (2015). Marx versus Weber. VancouverCommunity Network.Retrieved August 8, 2015, from

Ritzer,G. (2011). ClassicalSociological Theory (6th Ed).Boston: McGraw Hill.

Shortell,T. (2014). Weber’stheory of social class.New York, NY: Brooklyn College.