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SOC203H1 Chapter Notes -Georg Simmel, The Communist Manifesto, Primitive Communism

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A classless society; characterized by communal control over production
Only Communism and Primitive Communism are classless, the other types of production are
characterized by inequality
*** (refer to the study) Americans don’t necessarily associate prestige with income level,
prestige and fame also don’t automatically correlate. Individuals with a high income don’t
necessarily receive a corresponding level of prestige.
Max Weber’s Definition of POWER :
In general, we understand by “power” the chance of a man or of a number of men to realize
their own will in a communal action even against the resistance of others who are
participating in the action” in Class, Status, Party PG 95
The distinction between social CATEGORY and social GROUP: categories are more
depersonalized, but groups are usually voluntary.
Weber would label a group, a COMMUNITY
Weber states that a class isn’t necessarily a community (agreeing with Marx)
Distinction between a class in itself and a class for itself is class consciousness
CLASS: Weber partly agrees but also disagrees with Marx. It matters what kind of property one
owns (not just ownership), also differentiating what type of services sold
STATUS: Social honour determines prestige; certain categories carry more than others
PARTY: Political power is not reducible to economic power; conceptually they must be kept
separate. This is quite distant from Marx who equates economic power with political power
Weber distinguishes between these types of power: class, status, party
Weber posits that class interests aren’t a given; as opposed to what Marx argues
1. Marx on India:
* Marx’s claim
* India before the British:
Key tasks of government were to maintain the irrigation system. There were small
independent distinct villages; there also exists the caste system
* The effects of imperialism
2. Moore on India (from Barrington Moore Jr. Social Origins of Dictatorships and Democracy,
* Moore’s model of industrialization:
An industrial take off, would be impossible unless agriculture produces a
significant surplus, to produce a capital
* India: agriculture and industry
Moore does not see a historical actor prior to the 1950s; not a great deal of
revolution in terms of methods of production prior to 1950.
* Barriers to change in India
A rural proletariat tied to the land, not an industrial proletariat. Ownership was
concentrated to an elite, 10% of owners owned 50% of the land; this system also

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kept the lower castes in place
3. Implications:
* Marx on India:
From reading Moore, Marx was mostly wrong about India
* Analyzing Capitalism
* The independent effect of status (Weber)
The castes carried a power
* Articulation of modes of production
The expansion of capitalism globally doesn’t necessarily lead to pre-capitalist
modes of production; it can lead to a co-existence of different modes of
production (refer to India, no dramatic revolution)
LECTURE 4 January 28th,
Class, Status, Party”: True or False?
According to Weber:
1. Economically conditioned power is identical to power as such (95)
2. Classes are not communities (groups unified by kinship or a sense of
belonging) (95)
3. Class situation: the typical chances for a supply of goods, external living
conditions and personal life experiences (96)
4. Property and lack of property are NOT the basic categories of all class
situations (96)
5. Class interest is relatively unambiguous (97)
6. Propertied and propertyless people cannot belong to the same status group
7. Unlike the actions of classes and status groups the communal actions of
parties always means a socialization (organized group action) (100)
[Referring to last week and Barrington Moore] How do you produce an
agricultural surplus?
Proper mechanization, crop rotation , etc.
[ADVICE] Be analytical in your approach to concepts (being outraged is not
Examples of analytical questions:
Topic: gender inequality- under what conditions is gender inequality
greater or lesser? How has this varied across history and across
Topic: the Holocaust- under what conditions is a Holocaust-like
phenomenon more likely to be remembered and continually discussed

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in that culture? (e.g. The Armenian genocide is relatively unknown
compared to the Holocaust: why is that?)
1. Weber’s definition of power (refer to last lecture)
Weber is unsentimental when it comes to analysis of inequality. He
hardly mentions power in The Protestant Ethic.
2. With Marx:
Property a basis of inequality
3. Beyond Marx:
Economic bases of inequality in addition to property
The need to distinguish between the types of property owned
and the types of services people offer
Differences in social honour/ stigma (Weber refers to European
E.g. ethnicity, castes in India
Social closure- mechanisms in which social status is maintained
(e.g. marriage criteria, social distancing around resources,
Weber on America, by contrast to Tocqueville’s argument that
America is democracy in its purest form: distinctions were still
made regarding blood
Beyond the contemporary understanding of political party; this
refers to clubs, factions, etc. as well
4. The concept of “life chances”
It’s “…the likelihood of owning certain goods…having personal life
Weber relates equality/inequality to life chances
5. Significance of Weber’s analysis of power
Introducing the concept of life chances
Weber has a relational view of power; even those who are weak in a
power relationship still have a certain scope of choice and agency.
Those with power also have to make certain accommodations as well.
Power relations are multidimensional; not just economic (consider
status, etc.)
Departing from Marx, Weber does not think inequality/power in
itself is a bad thing; he views it as a capacity, potential to do more
in society. What matters to Weber is the equality of decisions made by
those with power. Weber was a nationalist and an elitist; he had no
problem with great concentration of power but was concerned with the
good/bad they were doing for society.
Weber was very Nietszian, because of his elitism
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