People are driven by the idea of being richer, and that it will make us happy and secure. This video goes on to explain why people suffer from this “status anxiety”, this anxiety that we are successful based on our status. People are resentful towards those who we consider to be our equals. We are envy towards them when they have a better house, job or car. This because our society tells us that we are suppose to be equal, but in reality we are actually living in a society filled of inequality. Weber explains that status and class creates the competition with people. Weber also explains that peoples actions are shaped by society, this is true in our society in which our drives and aspirations are based on this idea of the American Dream. The American Dream that we will all be equal and live comfortable and can afford nice things. This ideal creates the status anxiety that is explained in this video.
Weber continues to debate with Marx ideas of class position, however Weber argues about there are different forms of power connected to economic which are: classes, status, and political parties. Weber does not use Marx’s view of the classes but he uses a more difficult view of interest that shape people through their actions and the way society is organize. Weber mentioned that status is a ‘social honor’ or ‘prestige’ of economic power. From what I can understand, the economic power of status is how we are able gain money through our means. An example of a status is having an education degree but not earning a lot of money after getting that degree. But someone who does not have an education degree and gain money through criminal means will have economic power but will not have that status as of an academic person. Weber mentioned that ‘power’ may bring legal order but this is an “additional factor that enhances the chance to hold power or honor; but it cannot always secure them” (Edles & Appelrouth, 193). Even though ‘status’ for different groups of people does not have the same privileges as other groups means that there is some type of stratification in society. Majority of the stratification of status in any society indicated that there are monopolization in society. This society will have stratification within the status of different class of people because the society needs to continue existing by economic means, even if they must exploit the class that is suffering from the hands of the economic stress to exist.
Weber states that the way we get ‘status’ honor is by ‘status order’. The definition of ‘status order’ from Weber is “the social order and the economic order are related in a similar manner to the legal order” and “status order is strongly influenced by…economic order…which economic goods and services are distributed and used” (Edles & Appelrouth, 193,194). Weber definition of ‘classes’ is not ‘communities’ but ‘bases for social action’ (Ibid, 194). An example of an social action of classes is the Feminist movement in the United States where women were getting paid less than a man does from doing the same job. In addition, the United States had different classes of people working the same jobs getting paid less due to their ethnic/race backgrounds. Another example of this is the African-American population treated less than human even after 1864 Civil War between the North and the South. Another example, is today in United States immigrant Hispanic groups are not getting paid at least the minimum wage which is another visible social class (class struggle, stratification). Weber gave an example of a “status group” are the “slave or serf” which is another type of class that did not have much economic power (Ibid, 1940. Weber mentioned that there are three types of ‘class’ that makes it a ‘class situation’ (Ibid). These three types are:
“1) a number of people have in common a specific causal component of their life chances…2)this component is represented exclusively of goods and opportunities for income, and 3) is represented under the conditions of the commodity or labor markets” (Ibid, 194).
Being a worker and gaining an education at the same time is similar to a status and a class at the same time, in my opinion. However, working and spending my income in things that are necessary must be spending to continue to strive for something better and for future accomplishment (for the future family, or your own life). Weber states that “class situation is…ultimately market situation” (Ibid) which I believe in 2014 United States people (in any class) is actually striving to be in a good economic shape than being in the poor class.
Lastly, Weber states that party as a political party not a celebration of party. Weber mentioned that “parties resided in the sphere of power” (Ibid, 200) and their mission is to gain “social power” to influence “social action” no matter what is the ‘social action’. Weber states that parties may present interest of class situation as an individual case. Conversly, the sociological meaning of parties is what kind of social action the party is influenced by (what kind of struggle this social group is being burden with) status being stratified by classes.
Edles, Laura and Appelrouth, Scott. 2010. Sociological Theory in the Classical Era: text and readings 2nd edition. Pine Forge Press Sage Publications.
Sometimes our perception of something may influence our ability to understand the reality of a situation. I think most Americans have been purposely blinded to the cruel reality of our economic system and inequality of wealth among the country. I have always understood that there was sever inequality when it came to money, but I never seen or actually understood the statistics. Additionally, I don’t really know how I feel about the inequality. Is it fair to penalize those who have worked for years for all they have? But, is it fair to those who struggle living paycheck to paycheck that never get a chance to financially prosper? I don’t know that I or anyone else can really answer these questions.
To me, capitalism represents the rich being rich, the poor being poor and everyone else just working or existing to support the two extremes. Socialism is the opposite in that all people have an equal amount of money. I was surprised when I watched the videos and really thought about the inequality, in fact it made rather upset. Firstly, to think of all those who are living at or below the poverty level compared to the 1% is something I cannot wrap my head around. We all live in the same nation, with the same presidents and the same opportunities; America, the land of opportunity. A place that I’m sure so many people would drop everything and leave their country if they were given the chance. Moreover, I was completely shocked to see that there was not a drastic difference between those considered low and middle class in terms of the percentages. I consider the middle class the hardest working of all the classes.
These videos and statistics have made me realize that we are not all equal and although we like to think equality exists among us, it does not. I do not think that the inequality is or can be controlled by anyone. However, I do think that there should be something done to decrease the wealth inequality gap in the United States. We must create a happy medium between capitalism and socialism to bring us a better change of economic equality among Americans.
According to Max Weber, a person’s social status is based on the social relationships that they have with people within a community, whereas a person’s social class is based on the financial status in a community. In Martin Scorsese’s movie “Goodfellas”, mobsters were trying to increase their status in order to become a “Made Man.” When a mobster gets “made” they are known as a feared and respected crime boss in the mafia world. Crime bosses have a lot of power to decide what “hits” should be made and when to make certain moves. In “Goodfellas,” Tommy is chosen to be a “made man.” His closest friends, Henry and Jimmy were extremely excited to know that Tommy’s status was being increased in the mafia. Henry describes Jimmy’s excitement by saying, “As far as Jimmy was concerned, with Tommy being made, it was like we were all being made.” Henry also goes on to say that both he and Jimmy could not become made men since they were not “100% Italian.” In order for someone to upgrade their status as a mobster, their ethnic background was factored in. The only thing that Jimmy and Henry could do was to keep close relations with Tommy so that his high status could brush off on them.
In the Manifesto of the Communist Party, Karl Marx states that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” (Marx and Engels 1848). Karl Marx proposes that throughout history, a group of people in the same class always struggle with a group of people in another socioeconomic class. Class struggle shapes history. Particularly, Karl Marx advises the public with the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Marx describes the proletariat as the working class, wage laborers, or the “oppressed”. They lack the means of production. On the other hand, he defines the bourgeoisie as the capitalists, owners of the means of production, or the “oppressors”. The bourgeoisie is the ruling class.
In the USA today, we often hear a small percentage of the higher class owning a large percentage of manufacturing and the media. Marx would agree to this statement. In the Manifesto of the Communist Party, he says the bourgeoisie has “concentrated property in a few hands”. Also, he states that unemployment is due to the decrease in hiring by the bourgeoisie. Technology today has become more and more sophisticated that a machine can replace a worker. Like anyone, why would the bourgeoisie pay another worker when they have a machine that can do the work instead? Because of this, Marx states that this “makes the wages of the worker even more fluctuating”. The worker may have a job until the new machine/equipment comes out, which gets them fired and jobless with no pay. Therefore, there is a competition for the existing jobs. To pin point a specific example – my friend recently got fired from her job because a new program was invented that made it faster for one person to do two jobs. Therefore, my friend’s boss no longer needed her because the other employee was able to manage doing everything in a shorter amount of time.
The cartoon below further explains the working conditions between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
This movie has shows a clear distinction between class and status (Weber) in the character of Berhani. He is blind to the fact that he belongs to a lower class or clearly does not belong to the upper class. He came from his country and lost both his class and his status. Though, he tried to keep that status and class of a General in America, it really meant nothing. He held on to it so much so he couldn’t see what he was here. In terms of status, he faked his ‘lifestyle’ in order to marry off his daughter to a well off man. They lived lavishly, way out there means . Everyone from the outside viewed them as an upper class rich family. This was just an allusion but nonetheless the status they owned. Weber definition of status meant someone’s lifestyle- meaning if you are ‘poor’ but you lived an extravagant lifestyle, your status can be viewed as high; or sometimes you can have a high status with no relation to income. An issue was that Berhani was ignorant to his class because of his past life. He definitely did not have class consciousness(Marx). Technically when he purchased Kathy’s home, he became part of the Bourgeoisie and left the Proletariat, but in modern views he would barely be considered middle class.