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08/17/2010
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documents in English
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The theories of the state in classical sociology: Karl Marx and Max Weber

  1. Introduction
  2. The origin of the state: The principle of domination
    1. The two theories of the state according to Marx
    2. Infrastructure and superstructure
    3. The independent State or the State as a servile tool of the ruling class
  3. The concept of domination in Weber
    1. Definition of concepts of power and domination
    2. The ideal types of domination by Weber
  4. Endangerment of the state or state in the process of bureaucratization
    1. The internal contradictions of the capitalist system
    2. The proletarian revolution
    3. Towards rationalization and increasing bureaucratization
    4. Causal thinking of Weber
    5. Bureaucracy according to Weber
  5. Conclusion

European sociology for long has been influenced by the works of Marx and Durkheim. However, there has been little importance given to the work of Max Weber. Whenever his works were taken into account, they have been focused mainly on their methodological dimension. It is only recently that sociologists have considered the work of Weber on the relations of domination and the state. Born in 1818, Karl Marx is considered, by the diversity of his writings, as a philosopher, a sociologist, and an economist.

[...] Weber distinguishes four types of actions: Affective or emotional action, the traditional action, rational action from an objective and rational action in relation to values. The traditional dominance occurs when the rule is "based, and it is so admitted, on the sanctity of the provisions passed by the time". It may be closer to the traditional action. The rational legal domination is founded on the belief of the legality of orders of those who exercise domination. This can be linked to the domination of legal action against a rational purpose and rational action compared to values. [...]


[...] If Karl Marx agrees with Max Weber that the bureaucratic state was born of the struggle to emerge from feudalism, the fact remains that the author of the Communist Manifesto is not describing a process rationalization but a parasitic phenomenon. Marx wrote in the 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte: "The executive branch, with its enormous bureaucratic and military organization, with its extended state machinery and artificial, ( . ) appalling parasitic body, is like a membrane that covers the body of the French society and mouths every pore, was formed with the decline of feudalism that helped to overthrow.” Thus, the aim of the proletarian revolution is to break this "appalling parasitic body" which is the instrument of domination of one class over another. [...]


[...] The modern state was born in opposition to this type of administration: it is the desire to expropriate the means of administration management.” Weber also believed that the modern state has fully succeeded in cutting of the administrative staff and workers in the administration of the means of management. The employee is a performer, he is trained in the discipline and not to be the initiative, so he would make a poor politician. However, Weber has seen an increase in bureaucratization and institutionalization as the culmination of the principle of rationality in Western societies. [...]

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