Theory of Stratification by Max Weber

theory of stratification by max weber

Theory of Social Stratification:

Theories of Social Stratification give an explanation for the presence and persistence of the phenomenon of strata or layers of hierarchy in society. Max Weber is also one of the great sociologists who have analyzed the patterns of society and its institutions. Theory of Stratification by Max Weber is an important study in the field of Sociology. Apart from this Max Weber is well known for his study of Bureaucracy, theory of Protestant Ethics etc.

Theory of Social Stratification by Max Weber-

Max Weber is considered the originator of the most powerful alternative to the Marxist theory of Society.

He defined “Class” on the basis of Economic Basis like Marx i.e. in relation to the ownership of the property.

Basic categories of all Class situations= Property and lack of Property.

Those who owned Property offered goods while those who did not own property had Only their labour power or Skills to offer.

Class and Life Chances:

Life-Chances: Opportunities an individual gets during the various stages of his/her life. Life-Chances are an important aspect of Class formation.

According to Weber- Life Chances are defined as sharing of Economic and cultural goods, which are available differently for different groups.

For determining Class, we have to look at the Life Chances of the Collective and not of individuals within the collective.

Life Chances are determined by the Market Situation. Market Situation becomes more important for the propertyless as they have to depend mainly on the production of services as they possess only their skills.

Theory of Stratification by Max Weber: Aspects of Weber’s Class:

There are two aspects of Weber’s Class:

  1. It is an objective category. It is determined by the control or lack of the productive property of its members.
  2. All members of a particular class have similar Life Chances, which in turn distinguish these members from others.

Four Classes in Capitalist Society:

Based on his definition, Weber has identified four Classes in the Capitalist Society:

  1. Upper Class: Owner of the Productive Property
  2. White-Collar Workers: Offer mental labour
  3. Petty Bourgeoisie: Self Employed
  4. Manual Workers: Offer Physical Labour


Status: Alternative to the Class Consciousness. A position in Society is determined by the social estimation of ‘honour’, which in turn is determined by consumption.

*Class Consciousness is not necessary for the existence of a Class*

It is Associated with the lifestyle where there are restrictions on Social Intercourse.

Most rigid and well-defined boundaries are found in Apartheid System where Social Closure is the most extreme and Caste System.

Status can be ‘Ascribed’ or ‘Achieved‘.

***Similarities and Differences between Marx and Weber- Read Here

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