Sociological theory is a complex theoretical and analytical inquiry that is used to explain a discourse of social study. Sociological study is well constructed under the auspices of sociological concepts. Of all sociological theorizations, the inception and continued stay of class in society has inspired many a theorists. The questions are why there are people of low class and others of higher class.
Why has nature designed poor people and rich fortunate ones and why? In the helm of explaining this phenomena are Karl Marx, Max Weber and Emile Durkheim. Right from the time of Karl Marx, society acquired a new dimension in terms of stratification and class formation. Marx was a functionalist in the 1960s whose thought inspired many movements in the social sciences. Karl Marx endeavored to explain the reason as to why society is highly stratified and he did this from economic point of view. Karl Marx had noted that his society was dominated by people who own the means of production though they were a minority while proletariats or workers whose only commodity of sale was their mere labor are the majority. Interestingly, their lack of material possession had rendered them powerless economically and socially. For instance Marx noted that the bourgeoisie class depended on the working class. Actually industries produced their goods after workers worked and there was a lot of exploitation of the worker and this dehumanized the worker and occasioned his demotion to a lower status.
It was his position that one’s humanity inheres in his labor and therefore, one is ultimately dehumanized whenever his or her labor is directed by another person. As a result of this, society is classified into the poor and the rich, the bourgeoisie and the workers. This would lead to rational choice theory whereby the interaction between the bourgeoisie and the working class is critically examined.
Emile Durkheim on his side would explain class difference by claiming that out of this interaction and dominance search is born social facts (Bert 1). The working class, strewn of their social power and their lack of material wealth, prefer to be subservient and hence laying ground for exploitation, dehumanization and discrimination by the higher class. Social differences according to Durkheim are a product of inculcated ‘social facts’ for instance social norms, values, behavioral patterns; that exist and persist in a society so that they are deeply entrenched and alternatives are never to be embraced. Another social scientist, who came forward in the modern era to explain social differences, was Max Weber. He, like Karl Marx, saw social status authority as more of economic oriented than nothing else. In his explaining these differences Weber believes that power is all about change of man in his quest for own will in a command action, even in resistance of others who are participating in this action. Power is nothing but a fruit that one man has a crave for and he is determined to pick it whatever it takes even if it takes sniffing life from another human being. This is where the concept of reducing man as a means presents itself on the social stage.
For those sociologists who use Darwinian concept, this is explained in terms of the constant struggle for survival. Existence of class in society is therefore as a result of competition for materials. In modern society in fact business of capitalism has been rooted in the lives of a people. People take capitalism as a vocation and therefore they attend to it honestly, efficiently and with sincerity.
What Weber is trying to analyze is that people are placed in their social position by a force that they have accepted in consensus concertedly. This is what Durkheim was branding ‘social facts’ in fact. Weber further explains that power grants confidence in a man who bears it and the bearer of power is able to realize his ends in a proper manner against those who are just spectators on the edges. This power that is acquired through capital ownership is an existential factor that positions people in their respective classes (Bert 1). He sees society therefore as made up of the owners of property and those who offer services. The placement is inspired by what he calls orders.
Society is made of three orders: social order that conjures up status group, economic order that makes proper arrangements for the distribution of economic opportunities without social honor and legal order that acts as a judge in determining constitutional status of a group. Unlike Karl Marx, Weber believes that class is guided by the economic factor; therefore property and lack of property are the key vehicles of class situation. The economic group chances are the key determinants of class groups according to Max Weber. In conclusion it is deducible form these social theorists that the major impetus behind inequality of class in the society is just economic factors or material possession. The obsession is well rooted into the society and the prefect of this is none other than capitalism that society in whole has greedily swallowed.
Bert N. Adams and R.A., Sydie, Sociological Theory, Pine Forge Press.
London, 2001, 18th Feb., 2011 Link www.pineforge.com