The work of the German sociologist Max Weber represents one of the important
developments in the stratification theory. According to Weber, stratification is based on three types of social formation, namely class, status and power or party. Property
differences generate classes, power differences generate political parties and prestige differences generate status groupings or strata.
Like Marx, Weber sees class in economic terms and believes that classes are a
group of individuals who share the same position in the market economy. Weber
distinguishes four class groups in the capitalist society:
(i) Propertied upper class
(ii) Property-less white-collar workers
(iii) Petty bourgeoisie
(iv) Manual working class
In his analysis of class, Weber differs from Marx on some important grounds.
For instance, Weber says that the factors other than ownership or non-ownership of
property are significant in the class formation, and he rejects the Marxist view of the inevitability of the proletariat revolution. Weber also disagrees with the Marxist view
that political power is derived from the economic power. He says that groups form
because their members share a similar status situation. While ‘class’ refers to the
unequal distribution of economic rewards, ‘status’ refers to the unequal distribution of
social honour. Weber also looks at ‘parties’ or groups which are specifically concerned
with influencing policies and making decisions in the interests of their membership.