Weber's Ideas on Inequality - Free Essay on Sociology

Published: 2022-09-29
Weber's Ideas on Inequality - Free Essay on Sociology
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Sociology
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1145 words
10 min read

Our contemporary society is going through a growing gap between the poor and the rich. As the saying goes, "the poor are getting poorer while the rich are getting richer," the society is attesting to such truth, where the wealthy gain more wealth as the poor's state deteriorates every minute. This situation is because of the unequal distribution of power to everyone. There are those who get nothing at all, some get little, while others get the most significant share. Weber presents an image of society as being divided into small fragments, unlike Marx's argument of a progressively polarized society (Saunders 2006: 5). Weber's approach to stratification is mainly a stretching spectrum instead of polarities. His main ideas are that in "class" there is more differentiation regarding status which reflects the diverse degrees of social standing groups and individuals. His analysis of"status" could arguably and accurately define social issues in society in comparison to Marx's theory of stratification (Morrison 2006: 365). For instance, at work and generally in the community, most ethnic communities, the elderly, the disabled, and women, find themselves facing discriminations, despite their class position. Hence, individuals in similar"classes" might be identified by variances in "status." For a person, their 'status' could be of extra importance than class as a form of identification. In this essay, Weber, therefore, perceives the 'status''party,' and 'class' as interconnecting and gives a further intricate hypothetical understanding of individual's power and inequality in the modern society.

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Weber's theory on social stratification of a society concentrates on three critical aspects of inequality: party (relates with the society's political perspective), status (connects with the society's social issue), and class (that correlates with the economy). Status groups generate according to one's unequal access to power, honor, and prestige, and this could change from one society to the other without basing on an individual's wealth. Classes are created according to skills to generate a capacity of buying in the market. An individual could be a member of any class irrespective of religion, race, or color. It merely means that those with the least are at the bottom of the economic order while those with the most at the top. Most of the contemporary issues of inequality, most of the time, are based on Weber's theories and reflects a similar superior cynicism that he holds (Saunders 2006: 21). Weber has a different approach of the capitalist society than the majority of his contemporaries such as Carl Marx by looking at capitalism from diverse perspectives in which the philosophy was made of such as bureaucracy, imperialism, class, power, and inequality.

Weber believed that an individual's wealth and their way of life was the leading contributor to conflict. Even though he agrees with Marx that the economic side of social class was crucial and led to most of the issues he did not accept that this could be the leading cause of social class conflict (Weber 2013: 128). His perception of society back then had several status groups that help a large amount of power. Weber is well known for his ancient belief of the religious, economic, legal, and political advancement of contemporary society(Weber 2013: 127). His concern was majorly on issues of conflict and power on societal inequality. While Marx held a strong view on materialism and the significance of class conflict, Weber was against this terming "class" as merely a single unit of inequality among others. Unlike Marx, his belief more based less on social structure and more on social action. Weber contended that Marx put in more emphasis on economics. Capitalism was merely an aspect of shaping contemporary societies; Weber asserted that politics and culture deserve equal attention (Weber 2013: 14). The interconnection of social spheres, Weber argues, was a primary element of comprehending the modern society's development.

Unlike Marx and other contemporary sociologists, Weber did not believe in the class having an autonomous presence from individuals. Instead, he holds that class results from the intricate interaction of human action. Hence, he believes that social change results from human ideas and motivation and that these are potent factors of the societal changes. In the contemporary world, women and blacks continue to face oppression through physical violence and discrimination. Although women do not suffer as much bias as blacks do, male dominance plays a significant part in controlling the women in the society-there is gender inequality-. The same thing takes place in the workplace, whereby blacks are denied job opportunities and certain positions because of their skin color and are treated unequally compared to their white colleagues.

Similar to Marx, Weber's concerns were on the issues which pervade the contemporary societies, and this is also supported by Morrison (2006) as "much fear for the future of modernity" (p. 365). Weber contended that firmness of policies enacted by the progressive bureaucratic society could ultimately lead to dictatorial-like domination over humanity, that he refers to as the "new iron age." In contrast with Marx, Weber is also somewhat doubtful on the future which lies before modern society, holding that it lacks hope for a better community (Weber2013: 128). On a more optimistic perspective, he deliberates the option of a new class of capitalists, bureaucrats, politicians, scientists, and intellectuals, that will generate powerful solutions to the issues brought by power inequality through democratic tyranny (Saunders 2006: 23).

In conclusion, I think Weber's ideas are outright and would not require many modifications since it is evident that inequality is an inevitable facet of modern society. Gender inequalities are still present with us to date despite being in existence for years. This inequality between women and men has been around for quite a long time, and it does not like it is going anywhere just as Weber predicted. There will be continuous inequalities in social class as well. Individuals are facing judgments and criticisms by their origins and class status. Although the government claims that social class will be a story of the past in years to come, they lack evidence to back up their claims.

Moreover, Weber's work has been quite influential in sociology and understanding contemporary issues of inequality. Power distribution according to Weber creates three different realms (classes, status, and parties) which help in having a better understanding of modern society. These aspects relating to power apply in explaining inequality and Weber's focus was on the complexities which suffuse the contemporary world. Distribution of power among 'classes' leads to unequal access to material capitals since entirely class depends on the economy. He believes that the severity of power leveled by the growing bureaucratized society will ultimately result in a severe form of "power" referred to as the "new iron cage"(Morrison 2006: 367). Therefore, Weber's analysis continues being a fascinating and significant analysis of modern industrial societies' progression.


Morrison, Ken. 2006. Marx, Durkheim, Weber: Formations of modern social thought. Sage.

Saunders, Peter. 2006. Social class and stratification. Routledge.

Weber, Max. 2013. The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. Routledge.

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