Thinking about Max Weber’s three components of social class, answer the following two questions:

  • If you were forced to choose between Weber’s three components of social class, which component would you choose to have for the rest of your life: property, prestige, or power? Why?
  • How could you use that one component to gain the others?
  • Expert Answers

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    I would choose property. Property, according to Weber, includes economic resources such as the land, buildings, and businesses that create wealth. Wealth or economic power, Weber say, is the primary way social class is determined.

    However, as Weber points out, prestige and power are also important markers of class: people can be accepted into a high status social class if they, for example, are from a prominent family without much wealth or if they are politically powerful.

    Nevertheless, I would choose property because property (wealth) is a tool one can use to build prestige and power. For instance, if you have wealth, you can buy the education you need to enter a higher class. You can also build prestige by using your wealth to support good causes, which gets your name out into the community in a positive way. You can also use your wealth to gain power, such as by being able to afford to circulate in venues where you can meet powerful people in casual environments in which important information is exchanged. You can also use your wealth, since Citizens United, to support political candidates in virtually unlimited ways so as to get your political agenda on the table. Especially right now, we live in times (rightly or wrongly) in which property is greatly respected and can open many doors.

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