Marxist and Weberian Social Class Definitions
Both definitions by the two sociologists, Weber and Marx of social class addressed the same issues. In both cases, they implied that economic stability was highly a determinant of the social status or position of a person or group of people. There was also an agreement in the awareness of the people in a specific social class of their status, thus issues dealt with were similar. They also agreed in the social classes being based on who owned production and who worked for the owner. However, differences that led to the conclusion were much more pronounced. The Marxist definition laid out that production activities and interests divided the groups into the lower, middle and higher social classes. This implied that where a higher class would be involved in wealth maximization, the interest of the lower would be activities which would maximize the income, thus disparity in investment. Their propensities were clearly what defined them. Weberian definition on the other hand related the social class to American dream and laid out issues such as dedication to work, individualism and rational behavior as the determinants of social class. Weber further argued that political involvement would be used to distinguish between social classes. Today, the Weberian definition would be used more by sociologists following its comprehensiveness and detailed considerations of the social classes.
Social Class Relation to Religion and Politics
According to the common definitions of social classes, religion and politics also play a significant role in the way they relate. As discussed earlier, people with the same social background/class have the same tendencies. Thus, likelihood of belonging to the same religion by people in the same social class is undoubtedly higher. For politics, Weber was clear in stating that it was a determinant of classification of the society. There are people who belong to the political class, thus, they possess power and influence the region’s politics. These belong to on class which is different from others who have minimum or no influence politically. In most cases, they are regarded as the lower social class and their support is the only contribution to the political/upper social class.
Existence of Myths
Myths surrounding the mystery of social classes and status exist for various reasons. (Henslin, 2002) depicts poverty as a social class classification which was agreeable by both Marx and Weber. However, the myths surrounding its existence are not always credible. Their existence is basically due to the quest to find an explanation of its mystery. Myths surrounding poverty are such as generational poverty, low wages and received pensions, laziness and resistance to hard work (Henslin, 2002). Existence of the myths is also due t the discrimination that exists in terms of race and inequalities, thus people feel like the people of the other race are poor due to their status. For instance, because most poverty stricken peoples either live in the inner cities and are Latinos and African Americans.
Status Consistency and Status Inconsistency
(Norman, Smith and Berger, 1988) described status inconsistency as an issue that has existed over many years and is based on certain assumptions. It is the kind of situation where the position of a person is compatible with the ranks and the rewards that come along with it. No possibilities of disparities exist that may differentiate the reward from the actual status. For instance, a person in a particular career highly regarded is said to achieve social consistency when the pay matches the status. Social inconsistency on the other hand exists where there is incompatibility between the rank and the reward, such that the effects are both positive and negative at the same time. According to Norman, Smith and Berger, (1988), “… we have recognized that individuals can be evaluated in terms of a number of different statuses and their evaluation of these statuses will not all be uniform” (Pg 169). For instance, a teacher may have high regards due to the career but the pay is low, thus reduces their status.
Henslin, J. (2002). Sociology: A Down to Earth Approach. Boston: Ally & Bacon.
Norman, R., Smith, R., & Berger, J. (1988). The Processing of Inconsistent Status Information. Status generalization: New theory and research. Ed. Murray Webster., and Martha Foschi. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press.
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