Marx’s theory takes a very wide definition of society and of a class. According to him, there are only two classes: capitalists and workers. Capitalists take all the products of the labor of workers and here the struggle between classes starts, which leads to the development of a society. Marx’s follower Erik Wright told, that Marxism is not a theory of a class structure. First of all it is a theory of a struggle between classes and a theory of social changes.
According to Weber we can divide society into 4 classes that can be identified by following criteria: wealth, education and qualification. And the accessory to this or that class gives the difference in people’s lives, such as perspectives in life and the possibility to get higher positions. According to Weber Sociologists Joseph Kahl and Dennis Gilbert class structure of the capitalist countries there are six subclasses – The Capitalist Class, The Upper Middle Class. The Lower Middle Class, The Working Class, The Working Poor, The Underclass (Giddens, 1982).
Marx and Weber are both well known sociologists, and they both deserve admiring for making a big contribution into the development of the social science, but the differences in their theories cannot be ignored. Interpretations of Marx and Weber differ in that the latter considered bureaucratic rationalization to be a major feature of modern society. Weber, referring to the socialization of the means of production under socialism didn’t see any radical transformation, and that is what differs him from Marx (Morrison, 2006).
It’s possible to say that Weber’s theory is closer to an American lifestyle, as it gives more exact definition to a person’s position in the society, to his needs and possibilities. Weber gives a special role to the Lower Middle Class, as according to his theory, 34 percent of the US population belongs to that class, and it is they are who are interested in political stability of the society, they value freedom and human rights, they avoid extreme points in political life and are always ready for a compromise, and they have rather high competence when making choice their choice on elections. All this makes lower middle class to be the main social base and a hold of the democracy of a western society.
Classes, power, and conflict: classical and contemporary debates. p.10.
Morrison, K.L. (2006). Marx, Durkheim, Weber: formations of modern social thought. p. 295.