Karl Marx and Max Weber have contributed a lot to the discussion of the class system in society. Although they both agree that there are classes in society there stratification methods differ completely, they are almost polar opposites. Marx says society is divided by class and that capitalism is a deemed failure eventually to be overthrown by communism. He identifies his two stratifications as ruling class and the subject class. Weber on the other hand adds layers into his stratification by explaining the importance of status and party. Which classes are prevalent in society today is most in line with Weber’s theory although Marx lends insight too.
In the early republic the working people challenge was to meet with everyday needs. They worked day to day to ensure that food goes into their stomach and that they survive. It was not uncommon to see that poor being controlled by the rich because they could afford to hire and fire them. (Rockman 3) Even today, in underdeveloped countries people spend their lives working just to fill their stomachs and never get a chance to beyond it. “Class…is a way for people who analyze the past and present to explain why – in societies ostensibly organized around the marketplace – some people go to bed hungry, some people are arrested for not working, and some people’s backbreaking labor does not pay enough to provide heat in winter.” (Rockman 4) Rockman says that when we look at the past we can categorize a group of people by their circumstances. He goes on by discussing that the American Revolution has almost created a classless society and that people can easily move up the hierarchy and that it is not meaningful to define borders of class depending on the inequalities people suffered in the past. (Rockman)
“The boundary problem dogs the concept of social class. Where to ‘draw the line’ between one social class and another and how to justify the apparently arbitrary choice of selecting only one or more of that various measures that are commonly employed in studies of social class: family background, education, occupation, income, life-chances, relation to the means of production.” (cited in Smith 1-2) Smith discusses that the probability theory of statistics should be used in understanding the class divide and its boundaries. In physics the theory of probability tells us when an electron is present but not the exact location of it. In the same way, simply defining the boundaries of class is not completely correct and efficient. It is better to say that classes do exist but the limit of their boundaries cannot be defined.
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