Max Weber developed the theoretical array of social class as an establishment of the basics of the social structures within the society and their scope of interaction between one another. Through the theoretical paradigm of social classes, the society and its structures is therefore able to interact cohesively with one another which finally yields a resting point of social order. The fundamentals of his establishments were benchmarked on the concept of limited resources within the societal dispensation which yielded a state of competition between the societal members with a world few of creating models of the most optimal states of satisfaction. His theoretical foundation of social class was rooted on three fundamental conceptions which were the prestige, property and power (Norkus, 2004, p.11).
Conceptually, Max Weber used the term social class as reference to the domains of hierarchical distinctions that were modeled between groups and individuals within the society as biased on the scope of various advantages that were provided by the legitimacy of social structures. According to him, the concept was a coinage that brought out models of inequality in the shared commonality and advantages within the social structures and resources of the society. His sociological development that brought this instinct was partially modeled through his tentative realization that individuals had specific meanings to things depending on the way they observed them. The disparity and conflict in the ideological formulations of what was implied by things as held by different people within the society was therefore a vital variable that contributed to societal changes through conflict of ideas and resonation of the arguments that were put forward by the people. This was aimed at striking a collaborated understanding and therefore a final resting point of equilibrium in their argument.
The developmental process of his idea about social classes was rooted on his deep concern that was established through the inequality among the people brought by the aspect of social nature of the society. To him, the routine nature of social classes were therefore shaped under the imagery of property which was signified by wealth held by the people, power which was symbolized by the scope of judgmental valuations that some people exercised over the others within the society and prestige which was coined by a feeling of personal esteem before the others (Mayer, 1956, p.7).
The basic development of the concept of social class by Max Weber was a rational coinage on the idea of stratification that was brought forward Karl Max According to Weber, the statutory division of the society was in the aforementioned three stratus of social class orders. However, each class was depended on the other for the general good of the contemporary society and that no one would have survived by his/her own, modeled by the scope of the specific social class he/she was held in. The property class was the fraction of the societal population that held the ownership of the equipment and factories within the society/economy. According to him, the property class was just one of the variables that created the rationale for the cohesive interaction and integration between the different figures within the society in the lieu of exchanging factors of production in these factories. However, the ownership of these factories did not mean full control and management of the same. However, other persons were employed directed and indirectly in the day to day management of these corporations with which they sought pleasure in seeking models of livelihoods from the income they got form their service. The exchange of factors of production between the owners such as producers of raw materials and owners of labor capital was also instrumental in creating thresholds of pleasure to them who earned their living through this. However, the aspect of prestige as a social class was endowed to the rich capitalists who owned a lot of wealth. Despite their low profile of property ownership however, some low and middle class individuals were also leveraged in the prestigious social class who extracted their pleasure from the sale of the productive resources to the rich capitalists and the wealth men who could not make to run their factories and corporations solely by their own (Turner, 1993, p.61).
His point of stratification was therefore based on this these three identities (power, property and prestige). According to him, property denoted the social class that was characterized by high content of material and property ownership. Accordingly also, property ownership bestowed an individual with a strong bias of having commanding power over the rest of the people. This property could also be used towards personal benefit without regard to the interest of the broader set of the society. The prestige class was an important component that bestowed people with pleasure despite possible low endowments of property. Since the aspect of property ownership did not always implied a surety in power ownership, it was important to have the stratification of prestige that conferred people with pleasure of what they were within the possible limits of the society. An important component of Weber’s stratification was the power class. According to Weber, power implied the ability with which people were governed in doing what one a person wanted. However, the command for power did not necessitate the need for having property. The command was as an outcome of the exercise which an individual or a group of individuals who were leveraged with the power of commanding the society or part of it in doing its activities (Norkus, 2004, p.15).
On a rational scope of analysis, the property class in his social class phenomena may be argued as the most plausible one. The concept of property class is what endowed individuals with the worth of property ownership and the command over the productive resources of the community.
Persuasively, this class used its efforts and potentials in channeling economic inputs towards the exploitation of the resources which would consequently yield devolution for the benefit of the community and themselves. Essentially, the property class symbolized the group of the people within the society that had a general command over the productive inputs and resources of the economy. This people employed the rational methods of economic process in aligning their functional modalities towards the productions of goods and services which could then be used by the people within the society (Mayer, 1956, p.12).
The rationale towards envisioning on the property class may be argued under various scopes. This is modeled depending on the general nature of the positive impacts that went to the society form their provisions. Firstly, since the property class signified the ownership of the societal equipments and factories, their role was implicit in nurturing the productive resources towards processes that were beneficial to the general rationale of product output for the society. They therefore captured these resources with which they would use to produce goods and services that were important for use by the contemporary society. Elsewhere, this class was a rational bridge of economic exchange of activities and processes between the different domains of the society. At one level, they employed people as sources of labor for their factories which was therefore fountain for instilling models of livelihood and source of income for the rest of the people. Their productive activities also resulted to the production of goods and services that were worth of consumption by the general society (Turners, 1993, p.88). Rationally therefore, the property class waged a more rational support than the prestige and power class in the strength of the society.
Mayer Paul (1956) Max Weber and German Politics: A Study in Political Sociology. Faber and Faber Publishers, pp.7, 12
Norkus Zenonas (2004) Max Weber on Nationalism: Political Economy before Political Sociology. Canadian Journal of Sociology, Vol.29, pp.11, 15
Turner Bryan (1993) Max Weber: From History to Modernity. London, Routldge, pp.61, 88