Weber - Class, Status and Party

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Concept and Purpose of Power

The chance of a man or a number of men to realise their own will in a social action 

  • Even against the resistance of others who are participating in the action. 

"Man does not strive for power only in order to enrich himself economically" // "power may be valued for its own sake." 

Marx - economic interest  (depends on the relations of production and is the basis of social action) - status and power 
Weber - power (a concept that it seems to be part of human nature) - economic interest and status. 

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Is ultimately 'market situation" - people meet "competively for the purpose of exchange" (goods and services) in order to create specific "life chances" (income and living conditions).

Market is purely economically determined - "knows no personal distinctions" "functional" interests dominate it. e.g. Slaves are not a class because their fate is not determined by the chance of using goods or services for themselves on the market.

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Any group of people who have similar economic interest. - "have in common a specific causal component (ways of creating) of their life chances (living conditions)." 

Modern class situation - property - those who have and have not; services - kind of services (technicians, civil servants, various levels of white-collar workers). 

  • Property owners - people whose income is from the use of property. Divided into different categories and only some of those use "other's labour" by employing them. 
  • People who do not own property - they have skills: credentials and certificates which they obtain through education and put up for sale in the market. Skilled workers life chances will depend on whether and how the skills can be sold in the market. 
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Class Action

Weber did not believe that class interests necessarily led to uniformity in social action. However different life chances may be, this fact in itself by no means gives birth to "class action." 

Conditions: How the individual workers are likely to pursue their interests through communal action?

  • This may vary widely, according to the degree of their qualifications 
  • Whether or not a communal action affected by the class situation 
    • e.g. the last strike (communal action) was affected by the similar situations of all members of the CUPE. 
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Conditions of Class Action

  • Whether or not there is an association among them e.g. a trade union "from which the indivudual may or may not expect promising results."
    • e.g. in the last strike there was a strong trade union and the individuals expected promising results from its action. 
  • Transparency of the conflict - Weber argued that the extent of the contrasts between the property owners and the property-less workers must become transparant to the workers in order for collective action around the issue of class to occur. 
    • The workers must not only recognise the differences in wealth and opportunity, but these differences must be seen as the result of the distribution of property and economic power and not as the result of natural characterstic of society. 
    • The mass actions' of the members of a class is linked to general cultural conditions, especially to those of an intellectual sort. Intellectuals occupy a key position in this regard. 
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Conditions of Class Action (2)

  • Mitigation of Class antagonism - conflicts between classes are resolved through legal means. The workers have the right to form associations. 
    • The last strike took place in orderly and peaceful fashion and ended through "legal" means i.e. the back to work legislation. 
  • Only social action and not a community - community: a group of people who have strong ties and a sense of belonging (shared values/similar purposes in life), solidarity and social cohesion. 
    • Weber is obviously critical of Marxists view according to which social classes (working class) constitute communities, and hence leads to Marx's motto "working class of the world unite!"
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Status Situation

Any quality shared by a plurity of people can be turned into a mark of status (an imposed hierarchical ranking people as inferior and superior - stratification) 

e.g. skin colour, sex, religion, languge. 

Weber's definition - every "typical component of the lfie fate... that is determined by a specific positive or negative social estimation of honour." (i.e. social prestige)

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The Components of Status

1. Specific style of life e.g. habits of taste, which can be expected from those who wish to belong to the group, such as strict submussion to the fashion. Submission leads to recognition. 

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The Components of Status (2)

2. Restriction of social intercourse, social exclusion and social distance. These restrictions may confine normal marraiges to within the status circle and may lead to complete endogamous closure. 

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Conditions of Class Action (3)

3. Material monopolies. The privilege of wearing special costumes, of eating special dishes taboo to others, the right to pursue certain non-professional dilettante artistic practicies e.g. to play a certain musical instrument. 

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Status Disqualification

e.g. against the performance of common physical labour among privileged groups. All groups having interests in the status order react with special sharpness precisely against the pretensions of purely economic acquisition. 

4. Status groups are normally communities. 

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The Social Order

The way in which social honour or prestige is distributed in a community. 

A distribution of social prestige regulated through social conventions. 

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The Development of Social Order

1. Purely conventional stratification leading to social restrictions and exclusions 

2. Achieves stability 

3. Enforced by economic power 

4. Turned into a legal privilege. 

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Status as a Legal Privilege

Social prestige is not necessarily a legal right. 

Only in extreme case when some racial groups are legally segregated and prevented by law from entering some public spaces or from holding some jobs. 

Legal order and status 

Normally is not the primary source of power and status, rather an additional factor that enhances the chance to hold power and honour; but it cannot always secure them. Thus status order is based on other grounds - cultural grounds. 

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Class and Status

  • Status need not necessarily be linked with a "class situation"
  • It normally stands in sharp opposition to the pretensions of sheer property 
  • May even be the basis of political or economic power, and very frequently has been. 

e.g. America and democracies

  • Are devoid of any expressly ordered status privileges for individuals. The naked money power has become the main source of power. 
  • e.g. the families coming under approx. the same tax class dance with one another. But generally this is not the case in most of the societies. 
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Class Situation Today

In the way in which status groups are formed. For instance the possibility of life style is conditioned economically. 

Money is "the most effective for distance and exclusion, but by itself rarely sufficient." 

Status order hinders the free development of the market. 

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The aim: the acquisition of social power (influencing communal action). e.g. all organised interests groups such as the trade unions - tend to promote the interest of a group and are oriented towards the acquisition of social "power"

  • Interests represented: parties may represnet interests of class or status, but more likely mixed interests. 
  • Means used: their means of attaining power may be quite varied - violence, canvassing for vote, social influence, the force of speech. 
  • Essential elements - always involves an association, a rational plan and a staff. An aim or cause for ideal or material purposes, either for social or personal purposes or both
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Party (2)

Types of social stratification: (the basis of social stratification) 

Class (life chances), upper, middle, lower class, owners of factories, workers, skilled workers, property and skill; no strong ties, no shared values, merely shared economic interest. Locus of stratification - market economy 

Status (social prestige), ethnic and racial groups, gender; ascribed by social customs and conventions to any quality shared by group of people, to whch a positive and negative, social estimation attibuted. Strong ties, shared values communal action. Locus of stratification - society

Party (social influence), members and leaders of political parties, trade unions. Locus of stratification - everywhere, especially in political institutions. 

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