Three-component theory of stratification
Overview
 
The three-component theory of stratification, more widely known as Weberian Stratification or Three Class System, was developed by German sociologist
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

 with class
Social class
Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

, status
Social status
In sociology or anthropology, social status is the honor or prestige attached to one's position in society . It may also refer to a rank or position that one holds in a group, for example son or daughter, playmate, pupil, etc....

 and party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

 as distinct ideal types. Weber developed a multidimensional approach to Social stratification
Social stratification
In sociology the social stratification is a concept of class, involving the "classification of persons into groups based on shared socio-economic conditions ... a relational set of inequalities with economic, social, political and ideological dimensions."...

 that reflects the interplay among wealth, prestige and power. “Weber argued that power can take a variety of forms. A person’s power can be shown in the social order through their status, in the economic order through their class, and in the political order through their party.
Encyclopedia
The three-component theory of stratification, more widely known as Weberian Stratification or Three Class System, was developed by German sociologist
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

 with class
Social class
Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

, status
Social status
In sociology or anthropology, social status is the honor or prestige attached to one's position in society . It may also refer to a rank or position that one holds in a group, for example son or daughter, playmate, pupil, etc....

 and party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

 as distinct ideal types. Weber developed a multidimensional approach to Social stratification
Social stratification
In sociology the social stratification is a concept of class, involving the "classification of persons into groups based on shared socio-economic conditions ... a relational set of inequalities with economic, social, political and ideological dimensions."...

 that reflects the interplay among wealth, prestige and power. “Weber argued that power can take a variety of forms. A person’s power can be shown in the social order through their status, in the economic order through their class, and in the political order through their party. Thus, class, status and party are each aspects of the distribution of power within a community.” (Hurst, 202) Class, Status and Party have a great deal of effect not only within their individual areas but also have a great deal of influence over the other areas as well.
  • Wealth
    Wealth
    Wealth is the abundance of valuable resources or material possessions. The word wealth is derived from the old English wela, which is from an Indo-European word stem...

    : includes property such as buildings, lands, farms, houses, factories and as well as other assets - Economic situation
  • Prestige: the respect with which a person or status position is regarded by others - Status Situation
  • Power
    Power (communication)
    Power can be described as the capacity of an individual or a group to exert their will over another or others or influence the goals of a relationship. Power is not a characteristic of any one individual, rather, it is defined in terms of relationships and transactions between people...

    : the ability of people or groups to achieve their goals despite opposition from others - Parties


According to Weber, there are two basic dimensions of power: The possession of power and the exercising of power.

Weber wrote this essay shortly before World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and it was published in German in 1920 as part of Max Weber Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. It was translated into English by Hans Gerth and C. Wright Mills with the title "Class, Status, Party" in the 1940s (Weber 1946 and 1978). Most recently, it has been re-translated as "The distribution of power within the community: Classes, Stände, Parties" translated by Dagmar Waters and others (Weber 2010).

The possession of power

According to Weber, the ability to possess power derives from the individual's ability to control various "social resources." “The mode of distribution gives to the propertied a monopoly on the possibility of transferring property from the sphere of use as “wealth” to the sphere of “capital,” that is, it gives them the entrepreneurial function and all chances to share directly or indirectly in returns on capital.” (Lemert, 116) These resources can be anything and everything and might include things like
land, capital, social respect, physical strength, intellectual knowledge, etc.

The exercising of power

The ability to exercise power takes a number of different forms, but all involve the idea that it means the ability to get your own way with others, regardless of their ability to resist you.“For example, if we think about an individual’s chances of realizing their own will against someone else, it is reasonable to believe that the person’s social prestige, class position, and membership in a political group will have an effect on these chances.” (Hurst, 202) In terms of understanding the relationship between power and social stratification, Weber theorized the various ways in which societies are organized in hierarchical systems of domination and subordination using the several major concepts.

Class Power

“Class, at its core, is an economic concept; it is the position of individuals in the market that determines their class position. And it is how one is situated in the marketplace that directly affects one’s life chances.” (Hurst, 203) This was theorized by Weber on the basis of "unequal access to material resources." For example, if someone possesses something that you want or need then this makes him potentially more powerful than you. He is in a dominant position and you are in a subordinate position because he controls access to a desired social resource. A classic illustration here is the relationship between an employer and employee.

Social Power (Status or "Stände")

“The existence of status groups most often shows itself in the form of
  1. endogamy
    Endogamy
    Endogamy is the practice of marrying within a specific ethnic group, class, or social group, rejecting others on such basis as being unsuitable for marriage or other close personal relationships. A Greek Orthodox Christian endogamist, for example, would require that a marriage be only with another...

     or the restricted pattern of social intercourse,
  2. sharing of food and other benefits within groups,
  3. status conventions or traditions, and
  4. monopolistic acquisition of certain economic opportunities or the avoidance of certain kinds of acquisitions. (Hurst, 204)


If you respect someone or view him as your social superior, then he will potentially be able to exercise power over you (since you will respond positively to his instructions / commands). In this respect, social status is a social resource simply because he may have it while you may not.. “Not all power, however entails social honor: The Typical American Boss, as well as the typical big speculator, deliberately relinquishes social honor. Quite generally, “mere economic” power, and especially “naked” money power, is by no means a recognized basis or social honor.” (Lemert, 116).

Note: The word "Status" is sometimes left untranslated in Weber (2010), and kept in the German word Stand, which reflects the origins of this concept in medieval guilds, professions, ethnic identities, and feudal classifications (see Waters and Waters 2010).

Political Power (Party)

Parties are associations that aim at securing “power within an organization [or the state] for its leaders in order to attain ideal or material advantages for its active members.” (Hurst, 206) This form of power can be related to the way in which the State is organized in modern social systems (involving the ability to make laws, for example). If you can influence this process of law creation then you will be in a potentially powerful position. Thus, by your ability to influence a decision-making process you possess power, even though you may not directly exercise that power personally. Political parties are the organizational means to possess power through the mechanism of the State and they include not just formally organized parties, but any group that is organized to influence the way in which power is exercised legitimately through the machinery of the State. “Since parties aim at such goals as getting their programs developed or accepted and getting positions of influence within organizations, it is clear that they operate only within a rational order within which these goals are possible to attain and only when there is a struggle for power” (Hurst 206)

Social Action

Social action is in direct relation to “Political or Party Power” in combination with the class situation. The influence of laws is based on the social action of members of the classes. “The direction of interests may vary according to whether or not social action of a larger or smaller portion of those commonly affected by the class situation, or even an association among them, e.g., a trade union, has grown out of the class situation, from which the individual may expect promising results for himself.” (Lemert, 117) “The degree in which “social action” and possibly associations emerge from the mass behavior of the members of a class is linked to general cultural conditions, especially to those of an intellectual sort. It is also liked to the extent of the contrasts that have already evolved.” (Lemert, 118) We can also see this in another quote “Class-conscious action is most likely if, first, “the connection between the causes and consequences of the ‘class situation’” are transparent, or clear. If individuals can plainly see that there is a connection between the structure of the economic system and what happens to them in terms of life chances, class action is more likely” (Hurst, 204) The greater the numbers within these class positions will increase the chance that they will rise up in action.

Mobility

The greater the numbers within these class positions will increase the chance that they will rise up in action.

“it is noncontroversial that the class situation in which each individual finds himself represents a limitation on his scope, tends to keep him within the class. It acts as an obstacle to any rise into a higher class, and as a pair of water wings with respect to the classes below…Class type, relations with class fellows, power over outward resources adapted to the class situation, and so on.” (Schumpeter, 163-164) In capitalist society movement between classes is a possibility. Hence the use of the term “The American Dream
American Dream
The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States in which freedom includes a promise of the possibility of prosperity and success. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each...

” to show the ability of people to ascend to a higher class through hard work and ingenuity. “Class composition is forever changing, to the point where there may be a completely new set of families.” (Schumpeter, 165)
He saw four classes - the propertied class, non-propertied class, petit bourgeoisie
Petite bourgeoisie
Petit-bourgeois or petty bourgeois is a term that originally referred to the members of the lower middle social classes in the 18th and early 19th centuries...

and the manual labourer class.
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