The purpose of this paper is to discuss Karl Marx and Max Weber in terms of the basic characteristics they consider fundamental to the rise of capitalism and the consequences of capitalism for social structure.
Karl Marx saw capitalism, and all of human history, in primarily economic terms. From this perspective, the origins of capitalism lay in a process of conflict and economic progress that spanned all of human history. As Marx saw it: The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle (Marx 473). This did not mean, however, that capitalism had existed throughout all of history. Marx saw capitalism as a relatively recent stage of development in human economic history that was associated with the rise of the bourgeois class as the dominant ruling class in society. Capitalism came about as the bourgeois class began accumulating more and more capital and, with it, control over the means of production society. As an inevitable result of this process, Marx saw that the bourgeois were reducing all other classes in society that had previously existed into one proletariat which was subjugated and control by the bourgeois (Marx 475).