Marx, K., and Engels, F. (1994). Materialism and the theory of ideology. Four sociological traditions: Selected readings, 13-17. Edited by R. Collins. Revised and expanded edition of Three sociological traditions: Selected readings. New York: Oxford University Press.
Like Marx, Weber conceived of classes as economic in nature. His definition of class included three components. Persons could be said to be of the same class when they had in common "a specific causal component of their life's chances," but only insofar as this referred exclusively to the sense of "economic interests in the possession of goods and opportunities for income" and, finally, is so represented "under the conditions of the commodity or labor markets" (Distribution, 1982, p. 60). The possession of or lack of property were, therefore, the essential determinants of class membership in Weber's view. But there also exist a vast number of different class situations that are determined according to the types of property owned or to the degree of control one has over one's own labor--and are influenced by social actions such as "the labor market, the commodities market, and capitalistic enterprise" (Distribution, 1982, p. 63). Weber's definition of classes avoided the clear-cut simplicity that, at least in theory, Marx held was the defining characteristic of class.
Unlike Marx, Weber was convinced that capitalism was a form of social organization that "enhanced human freedom and economic productivity" (Collins, 1994, p. 82). This did not mean that Weber was uncritical of capitalism, nor did it mean that his theory was necessarily antagonistic to Marx's ideas in all respects. Indeed, in terms of their sociological approaches Weber most often continued Marx's work (Collins, p. 83). But, while he addressed the same questions as those raised by Marx and Engels, Weber produced different, more complex answers. Because he was not concerned with the movement of vast historical forces, but