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Social Classes Lecture

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Social Classes: Lecture 2 January 18 th
Frederick Engels –quote: all history was history of class struggles
Sebastian –quote: society is composed of two classes, very well off and very underfed
A capitalists society is characterized by conflict not harmony
In industrial societies capitalism divides the population into two opposing classes
The working class has only three alternatives:
--to cooperate with the capitalists (let the owner do whatever they want and pay
them whatever)
--to form unions and try to modify social conditions
--to make revolutions
Things change when you have factories, the way you produce things changes, as you
change means of productions, changes relationships
Social class differs in every society
Differences in social position result from differences in peoples relations to the
means of production
At both ends of the class ladder, class stability over time is maintained by
That is why poverty and wealth is self-perpetuating from one generation to the next
Dominant Ideology: very hard to get the poorer classes to get off their bums and
overthrow their bosses, because they grew up thinking rich people deserve to be rich
and poor people poor
The main social institutions of society including inheritance and even education
ensure that the poor stay poor
For Marx, a key question is how members of the social class can gain class awareness
The question for Marx is, how does a class in itself become a class for itself
For Marx, somehow he has to get into the heads of the poor that they can become a
Class awareness perceiving a difference, seeing poor and rich
Class consciousness is understanding your position, historical relationship between
classes and what it could be
The development of class-consciousness requires a transition from a `class in itself`
to a `class for itself`.
Marx does not put much faith in significant change through peaceful methods—for
example, through unionization and the ballot box
Marx does not think that working class is going to get what they need through ballot
box and unionization, only with communism that weaker class will have control of
means of production
Marx argues that industrial capitalism carries the seeds of its own destruction
Working and living conditions bring people together with others of the same class
and separate them from people of the opposite class
In these shared living and working conditions , workers will develop a consciousness
of common interests rooted in relations to the means of production
Even the books we read, the prayers we chant ad the beliefs we hold about family
and marriage reflect economic life
Karl Marx`s views about ideas and value differ most from those Marx Weber,
another founder of sociology
Capitalism has much more control over peoples minds
Thorstein Veblen: In his classic work The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of
Capitalism, Weber asserts the social importance of religious ideas for the rise of
Since Marx`s time, sociologists have developed a variety of views about class
Both Thorstein Veblen and Pierre Bourdieu, like Marx recognize the important
relationship between class, lifestyle and culture
For Durkheim, the question of central interest was why do people form themselves
into distinct groupings
Weber: is fascinated by the strategies groups use to create and protect boundaries
around themselves
He calls this closureforming a differentiation and moving to gain control of
Webber says class is important but not only social inequality, does not have a unique
was of inequality
For example class awareness is important so is gender awareness, awareness is
Max Weber was born in Germany the son of a wealthy businessman/politician and a
mother raised in strict Calvinist orthodoxy
After his fathers death is 1897 Weber began to suffer nervous conditions
Weber`s major works span varies topics: politics, science, religion, law, formal
organization and economics among others
His most famous work is the book The Protestant Ethic and Spirit of Capitalism
Weber argues that religion was one reason the economies of the West and the East
developed differently
General Economic History is Weber`s brings together all his distinctive
interpretations of economic life and change
Inequality is a matter of life and death, evident in studies being done in public
Whitehall Studies (Called this because of British labour services): found higher
mortality rates from all causes from men of lower employment grade, especially for
deaths from coronary heart disease.
Even in a rich society that everyone had a secure job, you would still have
differential risk of death attribute to inequality
Two concepts: Alienation concept that marx introduced into the language, under
capitalism work alienates people, it distanced from the life you lead. Alienation is
Exploitation: that there is a value in what one is doing,under capitalism the
capitalist .a process of production in paying less for the labour that the product.
Instead of giving one the value of what they`re doing you
Frontier: Canada settlements controlled by banks