Social Theories Of Karl Marx, Max Weber And Michel Foucault

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This essay will compare and critically evaluate the conceptions of power and domination that is found in the social theories of Karl Marx, Max Weber and Michel Foucault, and explain which of these theories are the most compelling to understanding how power works in the todays modern contemporary setting. To illustrate and argue this point, this essay will explore and evaluate examples in the modern setting on the operation of power. This essay will explore the works of these three social theorists and discuss and contend on which (if any) theories by Marx, Weber or Foucault apply to modernity. This paper will begin by outlining and analysing each of the fundamental key theories from the three social theorists aforementioned, compare and contrast …show more content…
Both Weber and Foucault conceptualised power and domination in different ways. Weber saw power in terms of authority that emanated and descended from above via powerful agents whereas Foucault saw power as an agentless horizontal force (Rudolph, 2006, p. 3). The differences between the three social theorists and their respected theories is that Marx focuses on economic power, particularly social and economic relationships and how it contributed to production. It was Marx’s belief that the ideal achievement of socialism led to equality and liberation. Weber contrasts to Marx by concentrating on status and rationalisation, believing that Marxism meant that the state had too much control and it potentially could lead to loss of freedoms for the individual. Rationalisation (or motivation capitalism) was a means to increase profit which Weber linked back to the development of a rationalised bureaucratised centralised state (Ritzer, 2011, p. 130). Foucault on the other hand argues that power is predominant through our social system, in particular, technologies that he saw silently controlling and manipulating the masses such as prisons and medicine (Gerrie, 2003). Not only that, but Foucault also noted that power is instantiated by rules set and governed by society, the politics of the use of language, and

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