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Weber - Class, Status, Party

Weber - Class, Status, Party - W FROMMAX VWE’BEHELEssays...

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Unformatted text preview: W FROMMAX VWE’BEHELEssays in Sociology TRANSLATED, EDITED, AND WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY H. H. GERTH AND c. WRIGHT MILLS ‘ Copyright 1946 by Oxford University Press, First published by Oxford University Press, First issued as an Oxford University Press Inc. New York, 1946 paperback, 1958 This roprint,v1979-2 pnmm m my mum 5mm OF AMERICA ‘ OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS NEW YORK VII. Class, Status, Party I: ECONOMICALLY DETERMINED POWER AND THE SOCIAL 01mm LAW exists when there is a probability that an order will be upheld by a specific staff of men who will use physical or psychical compulsion with the intention of obtaining conformity with the order, or of inflicting sanctions for infringement of it.* The structure of every legal order di— . rectly influences the distribution of power, economic or otherwise, within its respective community. This is true of all legal orders and not only that of the state. In general, we understand by ‘power’lthe chance of a ' man or of a number of men to realize their own will in a communal action even against the resistance of others who are participating in the' action. 'Economically cenditioned’ power is not, of course, identical with ‘pOWer’ as such. On the contrary, the emergence of economic power may be the consequence of power existing on other grounds. Man does not strive for power only in order to enrich himself economically. Power, including economic power, may be valued ‘for its own sake.’ Very fre- quently the striving for power is also conditioned by .the social ‘honor’ it entails. Not all power, however, entails social honor: The typical Amer- ican Boss, as well as the typical big speculator, deliberately relinquishes social honor. Quite generally, 'mere economic' power, and especially 1'nalted’ money power, is by no means a recognized basis of social honor. Nor is power the only basis of social honor. Indeed, social honor, or prestige, may even be the basis of political or economic power, and very frequently has been. Power, as well as honor, may be guaranteed by the legal order, but, at least normally, it is not their primary source. The “ Wins-emf: and Gesture/wit, part xix, chap. 4, pp. 631-40. The first sentence in para- graph one and the several definitions in this chapter which are in brackets do not appear in the original text. They have been taken from other contexts of Wirtrcfiafl and Gore]!- schaft. ‘ 180 VA CLASS, srarus, man 131 I legal order is rather an additional factor that enhances the chancc tea hold power or honor; but it cannot always secure them. The way in which social honor is distributed in a community but “seen typical groups participating in this distribution we may call the. “axial order.’ The social order and the economic order are, of course, similarly related to the ‘legal order.’ However, the social and the econOmic flrdcr . are not identical. The economic order is for us merely the Way in whifih economic goods and services are distributed and used. The social order is of course conditioned by the economic order to a high degree, and in its turn reacts upon it. Now: ‘classes,’ ‘status groups,’ and ‘parties’ are phenomena 0f the: fiifi,‘ tribution 'of power within a community. 2: DETERMINATION or CLASS-SITUATION BY MARKET-Srmn-rror-r In our terminology, ‘classes’ are not communities. they merely repre- sent possible, and frequent, bases for communal action. We 11:13}; speak of a ‘class’ when (I) a number of people have in common a specific: causal component of their life chances, in so far as (2) this component is rein-c, sented exclusively by economic interests in the possessxon of good _ s and opportunities for income, and (3) is represented under the conciusoaafe of the commodity or labor markets. [These pomtsrefer to- class summaries? which we may express more briefly as the typical'chance for a $pr9 y of goods, external living conditions, and personal life experiences, an so far as this chance is determined by the amount and load of powcrg, or lack of such, to dispose of goods or skills for the sake of income in a give-m economic order. The term ‘class' refers to any group of people that is ' the same class situation] . . £0111: :15 1trhe most elemental economic fact that the way in which the (11;: position over material prOperty is distributed among a plurality of pop?) 1;; meeting competitively in the market for the purpose of excharligaezl1 11;: ‘1 :15 creates specific life chances. According to the law of margina tfi 13: 1.11 mode of distribution excludes the nonowners from competing or . :g fly valued goods; it favors the owners and, in fact, gives to the? a. 33::rtimy: to acquire such goods. Other thing: beingfipcpulalhppl: 2:) 2311:: has; who, tion monopolizes the opportunities or. pro a e Chan 6 th¢m_ It in“ provided with goods, do not necessarily have to ex. h 5 Who bang st enerall , their wet in price wars Wit . t ose , . ;:::::,tyzl:::,aha§e nothing to clifier but their services in native form or ‘rswa M I 82 I rowan goods in a form constituted through their own labor, and who above all are. compelled to get rid of these products in order barely to subsist This mode of distribution gives to the propertied a mono 01 on th. POSSlblllty of transferring property from the sphere of use asp a lfortune?’ to ‘ ' ’ ' ' ' fu the sphende of capital goods ; that IS, it gives them the entrepreneurial . nction an all chances to share directly or indirectly in returns on capi- tal. All this holds true within the area in which pure market condit' preyail. ‘Property’ and ‘lack of property’ are, therefore the basi ions gories of all class situations. It does not matter Whether, these tWc cate— gories become eflective in price wars or in competitive strug les 0 cate— Wlthln these categories, however, class situations are fugthelr diffs entiated: on the one hand, according to the kind of ro ert that ' I” able for returns; and, on the other hand, according to libepkinii of sei‘S '11:- that can be offered in the market. Ownership of domestic buildin S'Vlros ductive establishments; warehouses; stores; agriculturall usablge ,lzljnd' large and small holdings-w-quantitative differences with phssibly qualita: tive_conscquences——; ownership of mines; cattle; men (slaves)' dis osi— tion over mobile instruments of production, or capital goods of,a]l s}; t especrally money or objects that can be exchanged for mone easil In: at any time; disposition over products of one’s own labor oyr of dih:rs’ 1 ' I n u o ' - abor differing according to their various distances from consumability; - disposmon over transferable monopolies of any kind—all these distinc— trons differentiate the class situations of the propertied just as does ‘the meanin ’ ' ' g which they can and do give to the utilization of property, cspecrallyd to property which has money equivalence. Accordingly, the propertie , for instance, may belong to'the class of rentiers or to the class of entrepreneurs. ‘UEZZS; 1:1: havedrio property but who offer services are differentiated j , ' accor ing to their kinds of servrces as according to the wa in which. they make use of these services, in a continuous or discontinul: ous relation to a recipient. But always this is the generic connotation of the concept of class: that the kind of chance in the mar/(at is the decisive rgpépent which presents. a common condition for the individual’s fate. f s Situation is, in.this sense, ultimately ‘market situation.‘ Theeflect o naked possessmn per 5:, which among cattle breeders gives the non- owning slave or serf into the power of the cattle owner is onl a £0 runner of real ‘class’ formation. However, in the cattle loan anld in t1: naked‘severity of the law of debts in such communities for the first tim: mere. possession’ as such emerges as decisive for the, fate of the indiv i .r——<... _ ._.,.._. ...__nmn. “Lu-w “Jr-Wm" my. . ”finned .._M_4".... «Wu... ..._,«.-..,. cuss, STATUS, PARTY 183 vidual. This is very much in contrast to the agricultural communities based on labor. The creditor-debtor relation becomes the basis of ‘class situations’ only in those cities where a ‘credit market,’ however primi- tive, with rates of interest increasing according to the extent of dearth and a factual monopolization of credits, is developed by a plutocracy. Therewith ‘class struggles’ begin. Those men whose fate is not determined by the chance of using goods or services for themselves on the market, e.g. slaves, are not, however, a ‘class’ in the technical sense of the term. They are, rather, a ‘status group.’ 3: COMMUNAL ACTION FLOWING FROM CLASS INTEREST According to our terminology, the factor that creates ‘class’ is unam— biguously economic interest, and indeed, only those interests involved in the existence of the ‘market.’ Nevertheless, the concept of ‘class-interest’ is an ambiguous one: even as an empirical concept it is ambiguous as soonas one understands by it something other than the factual direction of interests following 'with a certain probability from the class situation for a certain ‘average’ of those people subjected to the class situation. The .class situation and other circumstances remaining the same, the direction in' which the individual worker, for instance, is likely to pursue his in~ I terests may vary widely, according to whether he is constitutionally quali- fied for the task at hand to a high, to an average, or' to a low degree. In the same way, the direction of interests may vary according to whether or not a communal 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 theclass situation from which the individual may or may not expect promising results. [Communal action refers to that action which is oriented to the feeling of the actors that they belong together. Societal action,'on the other hand, is oriented to a rationally motivated adjustment of interests.] The rise of societal or . even of communal action from a common class situation is by no means a universal phenomenon. - The class situation may be restricted in its effects to the generation of essentially similar reactions, that is to say, within our terminology, of ‘mass actions." However, it may not have even this result. Furthermore, often merely an amorphous communal action emerges. For example, the ‘mur— muring’ of the workers known in ancient oriental ethics: the moral disap— ' proval of the work-master’s conduct, which in its practical significance was 184 i - rowan {2.135313333525355535;éifriasmily tipi‘cil Phimm Of ”my the .. ,ame,tesowow’ "' ltiltligkpf‘ work effort) of laborers by vii-rue of tacit agreirrizii: ¥::::;:c1::: 311;; a(<::tci)::1rsr,iiii-Eatlhactio-ri’ and possibly ‘societal action,’ emerges from the ditions . e members of a class is linked to general cultural con- ‘ emcnt , efspefiially to those of an intellectual sort. It is also linked to the linked t: t}; :rzpptrasts thit have already evolved, and is especially come u f par‘cncy o‘ the connections between the causes and the q ences o the class srtuatron.’ For however different life chances ma . . . . y be, this fact in itself, according to all experience, by no means gives , Erih :ob‘class action" (communal action by the members of a class). The digtipctlyeizgocgpiplon? and the results of the class situation must be felt mm as an gbsomtel. or only then the contrast of life chances can be . either ( h . e y‘giv'en fact to be accepted, but as a resultant from th I) t e given distribution of property, or (2) the structure of the cpncrete economic order. It is only then that peeple may react against przt:sissbsUuptur; not only through acts oi an intermittent and irrational Sim ti , ,ut in t e form of rational assocration. There have been ‘class sorta gig-leaf tkhe first category (r), of a specifically naked and transparent Gian, th ur an centers of Antiquity and during the Middle Ages; espe— - lizecy tr :1; whirelniggeat forlrtunes were accumulated by factually monopo- Furthermorg and: ustrial products of these localities or in foodstufls. . , . r certain Circumstances, in the rural economy of the mg: divirse periods, when agriculture was increasingly exploited in a perm (:31: tmg manner. The most important historical example of the cgory (2) is the class Situation of the modern ‘proletariat.’ 4: Types or ‘CLAss Smuocta’ Th ' nfim usbcivery class may be the carrier of any one of the possibly in- . . . era e forms of class action,’ but this is not necessarily so. In any case, a class does not, in itself constitute a community To treat ‘ l ’ conceptually as having the same value as ‘community; leads to dis: .thIl. That men in the same class situation regularly react in mass actio - to such tangible situations as economic ones in the direction of th m interests that are most adequate to their average number is an im 0 tam: and after all simple fact for the understanding of historical events PAl) n . all, this fact must not lead to that kind of pseudmscienfific o erat’o O'vl: the concepts of,‘class’ and ‘class interests’ so frequently founfil this;1 d2]; ‘ ’ -.n._.,n,. be up. cLAss, stra'rus, marry ‘ 185 and which has found its most classic expression in the statement of a tal— ented author, that the individual may be in error concerning his interests but that the ‘class’ is ‘infallible’ about its interests. Yet, if classes as such are not communities, nevertheless class situations emerge only on the basis of: communalization. The communal action that brings forth class situations, however, is not basically action between members of the identical class; it is an action between members of different classes. Com- munal actions that directly determine the class situation of the worker and the entrepreneur are: the labor market, the commodities market, 'and the capitalistic enterprise. But, in its turn, the existence of a capital— istic enterprise presupposes that a very specific communal action exists and that it is specifically structured to protect the possession of goods per se, and especially the power of individuals to dispose, in principle freely, over the means of production. The existence of a capitalistic enter- prise is preconditioned by a specific kind of ‘legal order.’ Each kind of class situation, and above all when it rests upon the power'of property per 5:, will become most clearly efficacious when all other determinants. of reciprocal relations are, as far as possible, eliminated in their signifi- cance. It is in this way that the utilization of the power of property in the market obtains its most sovereign importance. ‘ Now ‘status groups’ hinder the strict carrying through of the sheer market principle. In the present context they are of interest to us only from this one point of view. Before we briefly consider them, note that not much of a general nature can be said about the more specific kinds of antagonism between ‘classes’ (in our meaning of the term). The great shift, which has been going on continuously in the past, and up to our times, may be summarized, although at the cost of some precision: the struggle in which class situations are effective has progressively shifted from consumption credit toward, first, competitive struggles in the com— modity market and, then, toward price wars on the labor market. The ‘class struggles’ of antiquity—to the extent that they were genuine class struggles and not struggles between status groupSH—were initially carried on by indebted peasants, and perhaps also by artisans threatened by debt bondage and struggling against urban creditors. For debt bondage is the normal result of the difierentiation of wealth in commercial cities, espe- cially in seaport cities. A similar situation has existed among cattle breeders. Debt relationships as such produced class action up to the time of Cataline. Along with this, and with an increase in provision of grain , for the city by transporting it from the outside, the struggle over the 186 ' POWER means of sustenance emerged. It centered in the first place around the provision of bread and the determination of the price of bread. It lasted , throughout antiquity and the entire Middle Ages. The ’propertylcss as such flocked together against those who actually and supposedly were interested in the dearth of bread. This fight spread until it involved all those commodities essential to the way of life and to handicraft. produc‘ tron. There were only incipient discussions ofswage disputes in antiquity and in the Middle Ages. But they have been slowly increasing up into modern times. In the earlier periods they were completely secondary to slave rebellions as well as to fights in the commodity market. The propertyless of antiquity and of the Middle Ages protested against monopolies, preemption, forestalling, and the withholding of goods from the market in order to raise prices. Today the central issue is the deter mmation of the price of labor. , This transition is represented by the fight for access to the market and for the determination of the price of products. Such fights went on . between merchants and workers in the putting-out system of domestic handicraft during the transition to modern times. Since it is quite a gen- eral phenomenon we must mention here that the class antagonisms that i are conditioned through the market situation are usually most bitter between those who actually and directly participate as opponents in price wars. It is not the rentier, the share—holder, and the banker who suffer the 111 will of the worker, but almost exclusively the manufacturer and the busmess executives who are the direct opponents of workers in price ' wars. This is so in spite of the fact that it is precisely the cash boxes of fhe rather, the share-holder, and the banker into which the more or less . unearned gains flow, rather than into the pockets of the manufacturers or of the business executives. This simple state of affairs has very fre-' quently been decisive for the role the class situation has played in the formation of political parties. For example, it has made possible the varieties of patriarchal socialism and the frequent attempts—~formerly, at least—of threatened status groups to form alliances with the proletariat against the ‘bourgeoisie.’ 5: STATUS HONOR / .In contrast to claSSes, status group: are normally communities. They are, however, often of an amorphous kind. In contrast to the purely economically deternuned..‘class situation’ we wish to designate as ‘status W“- __r___ . m... .. -..fi..4_4‘ .Hm»—- ,, CLASS, STATUS, mart 187 situation’ every typical component of the life fate of men that is deter- mined by a specific, positive or negative, social estimation of firmer. This honor may be connected with any quality shared by a. plurality, and, of course, it can be knit to a class situation: class distinctions are linked in, the most varied ways with status distinctions. Property as such is not al— ways recognized as a status qualification, but in the long run it is, and with extraordinary regularity. In the subsistence economy of the organ— ized neighborhood, very often the richest man is’simply the Chieftain. However, this often means only an honorific preference. For example, ‘ in the so-called pure modern ‘democracy,’ that is, one devoid of any ex- pressly ordered status privileges for individuals, it may be that only the families coming under approximately the same tax class dance with one another. This example is reported of certain smaller Swiss cities. But status honor need not necessarily be linked with a ‘class situation.’ On the contrary, it normally stands in sharp opposition to the pretensions of sheer property. Both propertied and propertyless people can belong to the same status group, and frequently they do with very tangible consequences. This ‘equality’ of social esteem may, however, in the long run become quite precarious. The ‘equality’ of status amon...
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