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Weber and Elite Theorists

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Responses to Marx:
Weber and Elite Theorists
Sara Haviland
Lindsay Hirschfeld
Natalie Spring
Marx
MARXISM- Classes labeled based on their
ownership
Who?
Owners of?
Bourgeoisie
Capital
Proletariat
Labor
Petite Bourgeoisie
Mind/Mid
Marx, continued
Marx believed several things:
п‚Ў The Proletariat sells their labor to the
Bourgeoisie and in the process become
alienated from labor, product, species
being, and society.
п‚Ў The majority of the middle class (Petit
Bourgeoisie) will eventually fall into the
ranks of the Proletariat.
п‚Ў Revolution must & will occur in order for
any massive societal change in status.
So if Marx isn’t right…
Maybe Weberian thought?
Max Weber
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Trained as an economist, interested in the
increasing rationalization of capitalist society
Critique of Marx’s notions of ownership based
classes
Stratification based on power.
Power matters more than a job’s function or the
state of ownership of the means of production.
Classes, status groups, and parties are
“phenomena of the distribution of power within
the community” (Grusky, 132)
Weber: Class
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Class is defined by economic market
opportunity
Constituted when:
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a number of people with a common causal
aspect in their life chances,
this aspect is economic in nature related to
acquisition of goods and prospect of income,
and this component is within the scope of the
commodity or labor markets
Class conflict exists between two or more
classes involved in antagonisms
conditioned by the market situation
Weber: Status
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Status groups, unlike classes, are
communities
Defined by the life chances given a
certain amount of positive or negative
prestige and honor
Shown through one’s style of life.
Castes evolve when status stratification
creates closed groups, which are
guaranteed by laws, conventions, and
rituals. Often underscored by “ethnic”
differences.
Status, continued
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“As to the general effect of the status
order, only one consequence can be
stated…: the hindrance of the free
development of the market occurs first for
those goods which status groups directly
withheld from free exchange by
monopolization” (Grusky, 140).
Stratification based on patterns of
consumption, rather than acquisition
(which stratifies class).
Weber: Party
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Parties are groups interested in advancing
certain causes
Concerned with culling and exerting
power
Require communities with rational order
and an available staff of persons
Shaped differently based on whether
society is stratified on class or status
Class, Status, and Party
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Class = any group of people in the
same class situation, i.e.
economically-defined life chances or
market opportunity
Status = stratified levels of prestige
and honor within the social order
Party = interest groups which are
associated with the realm of power
and power relations
Weber: Social Closure
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Mechanisms provide ways to close off
opportunities to other classes, status
groups, or individuals
Most market relationships are open
Relationships are closed for several
reasons:
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To maintain quality
Protect certain groups against a shrinking
number of advantages in relation to
consumption
Attenuation of opportunities for acquisition
necessitates social closure to maintain, or
enhance, position
Credentialism is one method of social
closure
Weberian Approach, Restated
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Parkin challenges Marxian class conflict models,
stating that the distinction between laborer and
capitalist does not reveal exploitation in the
modern economy, but rather shows mere
differentiation
Believes Weber’s idea of class definition by
market opportunities, life-chances, and symbolic
rewards is more accurate
Class conflict can be understood as the relation of
each class to modes of social closure
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Two types of social closure are exclusion and
usurpation
Property is a form of social closure
Classes tend to reproduce themselves
Parkin’s Social Classes
Collectivist
exclusion
Communal
groups
Individualist
exclusion
Social
classes
Segmental
status groups
Elite Theorists
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An adolescent period in the life
course of Weberian Thought.
A class that rules and one that is
ruled
Gaetano Mosca "The Ruling Class”
Main point?
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There are two classes of people, the Rulers and the
Ruled.
Ruling Classa. Few
b. Perform all political functions,
c. Collects and enjoys power.
Ruled Class
a. Numerous
b. Controlled by legal means
c. Give power to Rulers (no choice)
Mosca, continued
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The ruling class uses legal means (which
they control) to codify their power
While the ruled might one day revolt,
there is always a minority that will
emerge to rule after a ruler is deposed.
Mosca views the Ruling Class in legal
terms now and presents varying ways
people may ascend to the ruling class.
(war, birth, religious elders, land, etc)
C. Wright Mills “The Power Elite”
Main Point?
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“Those political, economic, and military circles
which as an intricate set of overlapping cliques
share decisions…in so far as national events are
decided, the power elite are those who decide
them.”
In America, since there was not a feudal period
the bourgeoisie were able to monopolize prestige,
power, and wealth. However, they also tend to
deny that they hold power, and instead insist they
are a scattered bunch of individuals. Regardless,
the power elite influence the ways society views
religion, education, and the family.
Mills, continued
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Levels o’ Power (within the elite)
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Power Elite
Professional Politicians
Celebrities (but without power)
“History is merely one thing after
another; history is meaningless in that
it is not the realization of any
determinate plot.”
Michael Useem “The Inner Circle”
Main Point?
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The Inner Circle
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Power Elite is passé’. The inner circle really runs
America and Britain.
Top business leaders (CEO’s who while running their
own major corporations, also sit on numerous
corporate boards. They are the ones who define
what happens in politics in accordance for what is
good for the members of their inner networks.
The Inner circle works to support business. They
socially are at the top, however business will
always trump familial obligations or loyalties.
While not unified in thought, they are the most
prepared to act on behalf on their interests.
Elite/Ruling Class Theorists, continued
Pareto
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Three major assumptions about social
strat.: “individuals are physically,
morally, and intellectually different…the
social classes are not entirely distinct,
even in countries where a caste system
prevails…in modern civilized countries
circulation among the various classes is
exceedingly rapid” ([1935] in Heller’s
Structured Social Inequality, p. 34)
Pareto, continued
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Elite are those who are the best at what they
do – can be divided into governing (directly
and indirectly affect government) and nongoverning elite
Special cases – some are governing elites
though not entirely qualified, and different
groups move in and out of elite status
(circulation of the elites).
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Elites can circulate due to supply and demand
considerations
Elite class can be eroded as members of the lower
class join it, or due to the shortcomings of its
members
Pareto, continued
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Elite class always changing – usually in a slow
manner but occasionally in a revolutionary
manner
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Lower class may become superior in important
ways
Elite class may not maintain the force to squelch
uprisings
Elite class may not have the talents to rule, may
be too decadent
How is this different from
the Marxist perspective?
Are Social Classes Real?
D. Grusky and J. SГёrensen
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Problem: po-mo and SI theorists feel class is
somewhat irrelevant – life chances, attitudes, and
behaviors of individuals are not so strictly tied to
class
Response: there is too much focus on social
classes as big entities – we should look at microclasses which are more sensitive to site of
production and individual outcomes
Micro-class is occupation based – occs have “social
closure, class cultures, rent extraction, collective
action, class awareness, and subjective
identification” (Weeden and Grusky 2003)
Lukewarm Reception:
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We recognize, however, that our proposed
alternative diverges so far from the canon that it
may be as difficult for defenders of the faith to
embrace as the postmodernist critique. Indeed,
Goldthorpe (2002, p. 214) characterizes our
approach as a “remedy…worse than the disorder
diagnosed” (p. 214), while Portes (2000, p. 250)
notes, “supporters of Marxist theories may
justifiably respond that, with friends like these,
who needs enemies?” (p. 250).
-Weeden and Grusky 2003
A. SГёrensen
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What do we mean by class and status? What is
the relative importance of each? What does power
have to do with any of this, according to Weber?
SГёrensen wants to distinguish between positions in
social structure and the individuals in those
positions
Rent-generating assets – rent is payment in
addition to the one needed to employ the assets;
“individuals not obtaining the rent are worse off
than they would have been without the rent
payment to those owning the assets in fixed
supply”
Questions for Discussion
Having considered the strengths and
weaknesses of the Marxist and Weberian
concepts of class, reflect on the alternative
Grusky/ J. SГёrensen perspective and the A.
SГёrensen perspective.
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Are these two perspectives really about class
in the Marxist or Weberian sense? Are the
levels of analysis useful, theoretically and/or
practically (i.e. for research)? What are the
strengths and weaknesses of both?
Which of these two perspectives is more
plausible? Should we just go back to Weber,
Marx, or waiting for something better?
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