Lecture 21 - Weber's Theory of Class

author: Iván Szelényi, Yale University
recorded by: Yale University
published: June 24, 2012,   recorded: December 2009,   views: 2289
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)
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Along with the macro-level shift from traditional forms of authority to legal-rational authority, Weber's theory of class identifies a macro-level shift from status to class determining life chances. In feudal times, under traditional forms of authority, monarchs or others in power conferred high status upon individuals and material wealth followed; first a man would be named a nobleman, and then he would get his estate. In the modern capitalist era, individuals obtain their monetary or material wealth and their class position vis-à-vis the market determines their life chances. Weber, in contrast to Marx, argues that class is a modern phenomenon. However, this does not mean that our modern and contemporary world does not have versions of status. Like remnants of traditional and charismatic authority co-mingled with legal-rational authority in the state and other institutions, status still determines life chances to a certain extent. The influence of status is somewhat subsumed under Weber's category of social class.

Reading assignment:

Weber, Economy and Society
- Chapter 9, pp. 926-940
- Chapter 4, pp. 302-307

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