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Lecture 2

SOC345H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Bourgeoisie, Labour Power, Social Inequality

Course Code
Kimde Laat

of 5
What is Class
video: showing stereotypical view of classes
-judging people based on their clothing and categorizing them into classes
-in reality, we dont know what class people belong to because they choose their appearance;
can appear to be in higher but dress as though in lower
-5 classes
-not only based on income, but prestige and status
-ex. a plumber and teacher may earn the same but belong to different classes
What is Class
-we care about class because we like to categorize people, make assumptions about people
based on what we see
Outline of lecture and discussion:
-Classical theory: Karl Marx, Max Weber,
-Contemporary theory
-Erik Olin Wright
-Frank Parkin
-their theories are rooted from Marx and Weber
-Class and social inequality: what is left out
-all these theories are white male Europeans, thus are drawing from western philosophy
-they are rooted in western tradition and history
-have a specific perspective based on SES
Karl Marx and Class
Social Class:
-based in productive relations
Types of Classes:
-Owners of land, capital, labour power
-Bourgeoisie, Petit Bourgeoisie (people who control the means of production, but not a big
enough business to buy labour power and use your own) Proletariat
Production: thinking about making the things that we need to survive
-also about making the services and non-tangible things we need
Reproduction: we particularly care about social reproduction
-idea that on a daily basis and inter-generationally, we all reproduce
-we organize society in a way to allow next generation to handle society after us
Class: we think about how distribution of resources are organized in the society
-one of the main ways of organizing it is through capitalism
-capitalism: private individuals/companies own that which we need to produce the goods
and services we need to consume
-economy is a major source for organizing production, reproduction and distribution
Marx wanted to see why some owned businesses and some didnt
-Mode of production
-when he was growing up, what was happening was that few were owning their own business
and others were selling their labour
-he noticed thats how the economy was organized, and that it led to severe inequalities of
very rich and very poor people
-Marxists care about history; believe that things were different once upon a time and may
be once again
-power was once upon a time controlled by the rich, who were Dukes, etc.
-p19 of text “…oppressor and oppressed…”
-shows in a sense that class is always based in productive relations
-class is determined by the organization of the economy, and is always relational
-there is a master because there is a slave/vice versa; cannot have one without the other
-the idea that there is a relation between the two is key, and that it is antagonistic
-the interests of these two classes is aways divergent; not that they dont like each other,
but simply have different interests
-the rich want to make as much of his product as they can, with as little expenses thus
dont pay a lot
-and the poor want to make as much money as they can
-Marx says we should focus on who owns and controls the different means of production
(land, capital, labour)
-land: increasingly controlled through ownership rights held by individuals
-capital: money used for resources, resources like technology as well
-indebted capital: money in the form of machines and equipment
-he didn't consider human capital in this
-labour power: capacity to work that is sold and bought in the market
-inequality comes in with these three
-For marx, capitalism does two things
-speeds up our productivity and raises standard of living, which it has
-at the same time, this system creates classes that are antagonistic with each other by way
of different interests
-Dialectic: he believed that change in the economy comes out of the friction between people
-he believed that eventually this conflict would result in a communist economy
Marx Weber and Class
- said that the economy was important, but other factors were important as well
-Class Situation: economically determined
-(p20 in text) the typical chance for a supply of goodsis what determines class.
-class is not about how we relate to the means of production, but ultimately about the
power that we as individuals have to control our life chances
-class is about a relationship to economy, in the extent that it determines what we consume
-different kinds of class include property class, income class, social class (definitions in
-ultimately, class is only one part of what determines social inequality
-we should pay attention to culture and politics
-Life Chances and Social Class
-Class, Status, Party
-famous paper where Weber talks about status groups and parities in addition to class
-status group: made up of people of similar status in social order (full def in text)
-parties: voluntary pursuits
-about access to political power
-Weber believes economy matters, but does not solely determine status
-the money you have doesnt determine your status
-Unlike for marx, classes determine our life chances
-Power and Domination
-Weber: defines power as every possibility within a social relationship to impose own will
even against opposition without regard to the basis of this possibility (p26)
-power to make someone do something they dont want to do
-for Marx, it comes from owning things but Weber believes it is just ability to make someone
do something
-legitimate: power that is exercised habitually overtime coming from groups and
organizations in power