Both the classical traditions in sociological theory, Marx and Weber, had different approaches on studying groups and class of society. According to Kirby, Marx basically argued that the capitalist system is responsible for the inequality in social classes. In Marxist theory, the social classes are determined by the relationship of individuals to the means of productions. An individual can own the means of production or otherwise, but instead, work for the productive property. For Marx, the society is composed of two (2) primary classes such as the bourgeoisie who owns the means of production and the proletariat who is in need of selling his or her labour power to those who have control over the means of production. In his terms, the proletariat or the working class is the wage labourer who has to be exploited in the capitalist system because of the commodities that control his or her everyday life.
According to Edgell, the conflict theory perceives the stratification in the society as beneficial and advantageous only to the bourgeoisie class. This group has the power and control to dominate and exploit the labour power of individuals in order to accumulate wealth. Given the unequal distribution of wealth in the capitalist system, this perspective views that the grounds for class struggle lie in the capitalist urge to become conscious of surplus value. These tensions would lead to social disorder leading to its own destruction. The proletariats would strive for equality and freedom from the bourgeoisies.
Meanwhile, in contrast to Marx, Weber’s analysis of class has similarity to Marx’s in a sense that it is something rooted on the economic dimension though the point of divergence is that it is not limited on this alone. Aside from the ownership or non – ownership of the means of production as a factor, Weber considered that social stratification has other related dimensions such as status and power. In this case, there are more possible classes in the society other than just the capitalists and the workers. The working class is a not just a result of not owning the means of production but conceptualised such on the grounds of unequal access to resources (O ‘Donnell 1997: 161 – 184; and Taylor et al. 1995: 36). Moreover, given that the functionalist perspective views that society is inclined towards social stability and order, this theoretical approach sees that to be a working class is just vital for the equilibrium in the society. This is for the reason that differences in social classes make a system of inter – dependence in a more divided means of production which leads towards greater harmony in the overall (Giddens 2009: 67 – 97). However, how the term working class is defined is not limited to the contextualisation made by Marx and Weber. Some perceive the working class as manual workers which are