Class, Status, Party
1: ECONOMICALLY DETERMINED POWER AND THE SOCIAL ORDER
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.
of every legal order directly 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' the 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 conditioned' 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
frequently the striving for power is also conditioned by the social 'honor' it entails. 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 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 legal order is rather an additional factor that enhances the chance to
hold power or honor; but it cannot always secure them.
The way in which social honor is distributed in a community between typical
groups participating in this distribution we may call the 'social order.' The social order
and the economic order are, of course, similarly related to the 'legal order.' However, the
social and the economic order are not identical. The economic order is for us merely the
way in which 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
Now: ‘classes’, ‘status groups’, and ‘parties’ are phenomena of the distribution of
power within a community.
2. DETERMINATION OF CLASS-SITUATION BY MARKET-SITUATION
In our terminology, 'classes' are not communities; they merely represent possible,
and frequent, bases for communal action. We may speak of a 'class' when (1) a number of
people have in common a specific causal component of their life chances, in so far as (2)
this component is represented exclusively-by -economic- interests in the possession of
goods and opportunities for income, and (3) is represented under the conditions of the