Weber, on the other hand, saw inequality as a natural occurrence. A German as well, he was born into a prominent political family. Inspired by his father’s electoral and intellectual pursuits, he would go on to make a remarkable career out of examining human societies with excruciating detail. With regard to social stratification, he did not feel that the affluent and impoverished were locked in some sort of epic duel. Finding great interest in what Marx deemed as the bourgeoisie, Weber did not consider this to be a monolithic entity. He devised a system in which class membership was divided between the materially wealthy and the socially prestigious. In his opinion, it was useless to be concerned about reserves of monetary capital if social ones were not considered too.
Regardless of whose approach is taken, the chasm between what is commonly referred to as the haves and have nots is readily apparent. One of the most notable instances of this being portrayed in a motion picture was in 1996, when director James Cameron made his international blockbuster Titanic. Released the following year, it details the fictional romantic relationship between destitute artist Jack Dawson and wealthy socialite Rose DeWitt Bukater. Making a very long story short, after the Titanic crashes into an iceberg in the North Atlantic, its upper class passengers are given primary access to lifeboats. This is despite them being the minority of boarders. Rose, who faced endless discrimination for falling in love with someone below her stature, loses Jack in the end due to his perishing in the frigid waters.
Though highly theatrical, Titanic serves as a fairly accurate testament to what the differences between social classes really mean. The affluent receive better health care, have better living conditions, and greater life expectancies than the less fortunate do. Not to mention the immense stigma felt by members of differing classes should they try to form non-professional relationships. Interestingly enough, this can come from both ends; it is definitely not a case of the wealthy holding the poor back, or vice versa. From my standpoint, Marx was overly extreme in his idealism. The worst of this had to do with his disregarding of human nature, which has competition as an essential component. Weber was far more practical in his conclusions about stratification, recognizing inequality as an unfortunate, but undeniably reoccurring phenomenon.
This is a harsh reality, no doubt, but so are the greatest of life’s challenges. Looking the other way is merely delaying a problem, not averting it.