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Max Weber and Karl Marx

Max Weber's interpretive sociology attempted to understand human behavior by examining the meanings beneath human actions. Weber believed that human actions arose from a complex mix of individual motivations and outside influences, and that collective human action arose when many individuals shared common beliefs and placed similar meanings on what they wanted to gain from such collective action. Weber serves as a critique of Karl Marx's sociological theory because while Weber may not disagree with Marx's conclusions, Weber's theories seem to offer a better "human" explanation for the processes that Marx describes and predicts.

Karl Marx believed that all individuals' social relationships were based on each individual's economic relationships. Particularly, Marx believed that every person was born into a specific social class, and each person's social class was determined by his or her parents' "property relations" (Matters of Sociological Thought, p. 16). Essentially, Marx defined "property relations" as the relationship between each person and the "modes of economic production" in a society (Matters of Sociological Thought, p. 45). Marx believed that these property relations defined the role that each person would play in society. For example, workers only own their ability to work, which they sell to the capitalists, who own the money to pay the workers. Thus, Marx believed that "the relations men establish with each other . . . in the pursuit of their productive goals, constitute the real foundations . . . [of] society" (Matters of Sociological Thought, p. 45).

For Marx, the workers and the capitalists formed two distinct social classes. He believed the history of society was "the history of class struggles" (Manifesto of the Communist Party, p. 473). In the Communist Manifesto, Marx described that in the evolution of the bourgeoisie "[a]ll fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable preju...

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Max Weber and Karl Marx. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 01:25, May 29, 2023, from