The Neo-Marxist Synthesis of Marx and Weber on Class

Pat Ray M Dagapioso Christine Jane Eleria

What is this about?
‡ This report is about the reassessment of the relationship of the contemporary Marxist and Weberian Theory. ‡ Both theories consider concepts internal to each other, and were once considered as points of criticism toward each other, had been reconsidered and reinterpreted to help expalin each other theories.

Neo-Marxist Theory of Class
‡ Primarily this lecture is about the conception of Neo-Marxism as stipulated by contemporary Marxists such as Burris himself. ‡ Neo-Marxist infuse Weberian concepts into understanding contemporary Marxism in the late 20th century.

4 Important Distinctions Between the Classical Marxist and Weberian Theories of Class
Marx 1. Class- Objective Structure of Social Positions 2. Unidimensional 3. Exploitation 4. Expression of production Weber 1. Class- constructed in the form of theory of social action 2. Multidimensional 3. Domination 4. Market Relations

I. Structure v. Action
‡ Marx and Weber put different importance on human agency in explaining social phenomena. ‡ Marx- places much greater causal weight on functioning of objective structures that constrain human behavior (i.e. mode of production) ‡ Weber on the other hand places great importance on human agency (capacity for human beings to make choices and to impose those choices on the world).

Structure v. Action: Focus on Marx
‡ One of the structures that determine social phenomena is the mode of production. ‡ Mode of Production combination of productive forces (labor, tools, land) and social and technical relations of production (property, power, control relations (law), association, and relations between social classes. ‡ Marxists view class position as something that entail material interests, capacities and constraints that exist objectively and independently of the particular persons.

Structure v. Action: Focus on Weber
‡ Classes are not the effect of an objective structure, but are outcomes of the motivations and behaviour of knowledgeable human actors. ‡ Further, classes are identified with a particular form of social action. Social action- action that seeks to restrict access to valued resources w/ an orientation to maximixing their return to the market.

Structure v. Action: The Difference
‡ Marxist argue that social action exaggerates the impression of the indeterminancy of social action. ‡ Weberians, on the other hand, argue promises more than it can possibly deliver. ‡ Weberians also argues that Marxists gives insufficient attention to the role of conscious agency and volition in shaping social events.

Structure v. Action: The Difference
‡ Arguments against Marxism: 1. the logic of mode of production is teleological (believe in ultimate purpose) and 2. that humans are downgraded as passive bearers of social relations. ‡ Marxists response: 1. Marxists also debates this functionalism, that somehow functionalists arguments are incomplete, 2. Marxists employs in theories also the intentionality of human actors, though in restrictive role, 3. human agency is also incorporated in contemporary Marxist theories (i.e. class analysis) and 4. equal emphasis on objective structures and human agency

Human Agency as Applied by Marxists
‡ 1. Thomson and Przeworski (Marxists) sees that the important aspects of class relations are seen as structurally undetermined in the sense that objective structures merely impose a general directionality upon social development, whereas the pace and concrete form of that development and selection among possible outcomes is determined by human agency. ‡ E.G. Burris (1980) variation of size and composition of intermediate classes among capitalist societies.

Human Agency as Applied by Marxists
‡ 2. Class relations are structurally overdetermined that is subject to multiple and contradictory determinations, and therefore to some extent, indeterminate. ‡ E.G. Wright (1978) the conception of intermediate class positions as contradictory class locations / the positions of managers and professionals in capiatlist class relations

Human Agency as Applied by Marxists
‡ 3. Structural determination of class is mediated by human agency in ways that are more that epiphenomenal. ‡ E.G. Ehrenreichs (1979) the formation of PMC/ professional-managerial class. ‡ They outlined several structural tendencies that condition the formation of such class and also stressed that institutional changes that is associated by the emergence of this class does not come out without the conscious efforts of human agents.

Human Agency as Applied by Marxists
‡ 4. Human agency almost always assumes an important role in contemporary Marxist accounts of the process by which structurally defined classes are formed/ or fail to be formed into organized collectivities. ‡ E.G. Wright the relationship of class structure and class formation. Class structure itself does not generate a unique pattern of class formation, rather it determines the underlying probabilites of different types of class formations.

I. Structure v. Action
‡ Summary: ‡ 1. Weberian arguments for the importance of human agency served as a useful corrective to the more one-sided structuralists version of Marxism. ‡ 2. Weberians on the other hand refuses to accept the importance of structures in determining social phenomena (see Parkin).

II. Unidimensional v. Multidimensional Views
‡ Marxists and Weberians differ in their conception of the importance of class as compared with other forms of oppression or other bases of association and struggle. ‡ Class for Marx class is the single most important division around which social groups organize and contend for political power. ‡ Class struggle therefore is the primary vehicle of epochal social change.

II. Unidimensional v. Multidimensional Views
‡ Weber the importance of class divisions is historically variable and contingent. ‡ For Weber class relations coexist with other forms of oppression and other bases of association that are independent of class.

Weberian critics of Marxists
‡ Primary point of criticism by Weberians toward Marxists is the primacy of class. ‡ 1. Parkin racial, ethnic and religious conflicts had overshadowed the primacy of class ‡ 2. Giddens Marxists are unable to accommodate nonclass forms of domination (e.g. nationa, ethnic, and sexual oppression)

Marxists Reply
‡ 1. Most Marxists would defend some notions of the primacy of class relations. ‡ 2. Contemporary Marxists are now applying more multidimensional viewpoints. ‡ 3. Marxists have accorded a considerable degree of autonomy to nonclass forms of oppression. ‡ 4. Disagreements continue on the conceptualization of the different forms of oppression, their degree of autonomy, and the manner they are related to class relations.

Marxists Feminists
‡ Marxists feminists sees the oppression of women as an interaction of capitalist class relations and ptriarchal gender relations. ‡ Mitchell (1974) the distinctiveness of women s oppression is located in the formation of sexual identities is relatively autonomous of the production relations that define social classes. ‡ McDonough and Harrison (1978) women are placed in two separate but linked structures of class and patriarchy. ‡ The relationship of class and patriarchy is defined as such that the form of each is limited by the influence of the other structure.

Marxists on Race and Ethnicity
‡ 1. Edwards (1979) racial divisions and sexual divisions reflect historical processes that are distinct from those of capitalism as a mode of production. ‡ 2. Wright (1978) class relations play a decisive role in shaping other forms of inequality; but, it should be through empirical and theoretical studies that the relationship between class relations and racism be founded.

Focus on Race
‡ Marxists focus on race is on the distinctiveness of racial divisions from class divisions not from its autonomy from the latter. ‡ Geschwender (1978) the situation of racial minorities must be treated as an interaction between race and national oppression, neither of which can be subsumed under the other. ‡ Further Geschwender stressed that elements of colonial model and capitalist exploitation model must be extracted to develop a more comprehensive model to further explain the racial situation in America.

Weakness of These Theories
‡ 1. The weakness lies not in the notion that Marxist are not capable of addressing other forms of oppression (see Giddens). ‡ 2. The weakness lies in the job of the Marxists to explain why class should be accorded any degree of primacy over other bases of political struggle.

Non-Reductionist Arguments
‡ 1. Marxist class categories can be shown to have stronger effects on life chances (opportunities each individual has to improve his/her life), cultural patterns or political consciousness than alternative bases of stratification. Weakness? A weak defense of class primacy thesis.

Non-Reductionist Arguments
‡ 2. There is the evolutionary claim that only class relations have an internal logic that generates systematic tendencies toward cumulative and progressive social change. Weakness? This thesis requires the development of productive forces at the center of the historical process of which produces support for technoligical determinism and Soviet Marxism.

Non-Reductionist Arguments
‡ 3. However autonomous and consequential nonclass forms of domination may be, the material means of production remains the basic source of power in the society. Weakness? Weberians rightfully argues that material resources are necessarily more important bases of power than political or ideological resources.

End Thank You!!! Ajde!

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