Karl Marx vs. Max Weber: Influential Historical Figures

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Difference between Karl Marx and Max Weber

In a world with a history full of notable theorists and thinkers, two names consistently stand out above all others: Karl Marx and Max Weber. The two are some of the most influential figures in the history of sociology, and their ideas have left their marks in politics, government, sociology and various other areas of society. While the two are noticeably distinct figures in their own rights, they do have a number of similarities, some of which we tackle in this comparison article.

Karl Marx
Max Weber

On Sociology

Karl Marx was born on 1818 and died in 1883. He was a German philosopher and economist, who although considered by many to be a sociologist did not actually view himself as such. Nevertheless, Marx did have a considerable effect on the practice of sociology, both from a historical and practical perspective.

Max Weber lived from 1864 to 1920, and he was also German, although unlike Marx, he did consider himself a sociologist as well as a scientist. Like Marx, Weber also had a significant impact on the practice of sociology, and was responsible for many of its tenets. Weber was also instrumental in the development of the Conflict Theory.

On The Conflict Theory

Both Karl Marx and Max Weber had their respective roles to play in the development of the Conflict Theory, which is one of the key models for understanding the social sphere. This theory has three distinct components, with the first one involving how conflict is a common aspect of society. Conflict is in fact considered by most sociologists to be a basic feature of social existence. The second component of the theory is that society is comprised of different social groups, each of which displays conflicting values and concerns. The third component defines societal conflicts as typical of dominant and subordinate social groups that compete over resources. These perspectives were drawn from the works of both Karl Marx and Max Weber during the 18th and 19th centuries.

On Social Classes

Karl Marx defined two distinct groups with regard to the conflict theory: the Capitalist class, which owns and maintains controls over production, and the working class, which is responsible for providing the labor essential to the production of goods and services. Max Weber for his part believed that society is an arena of constant conflict and struggle, with the resources being fought over by both groups. Unlike Marx however, Weber has defined many other groups in society, with each having varying degrees of social influence. Weber also believed that this influence shaped many of the developments in politics, ethnicity, gender, and religion.


Karl Marx

  • Was born on 1818 and died in 1883
  • Believed there were two groups, the capitalist and the working group
  • Did not consider himself a sociologist

Max Weber

  • Lived from 1864 to 1920
  • Was a sociologist as well as a scientist
  • Believed there were many social groups aside from the capitalist and the working group

Which ideology has more errors?
  • Karl Marx
  • Max Weber

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