What are two major differences between Karl Marx’s and Max Weber’s views of the Industrial Revolution and its aftermath?
Karl Marx was a sociologist of a sort before there was such a discipline. Max Weber was one of the first self-conscious sociologists. Marx studied history and economic forces and tried to determine what effects these forces had on society, as did Weber later.
Marx saw history as a materialistic process which followed inevitable rules. He called it dialectical materialism. He was influenced by Georg Hegel, who believed that history could be described as a continuous process of conflict, called a dialectic, between thesis (the present arrangement of society) against antithesis (new forces clashing with the old) and resolving into a synthesis, which then becomes the new status quo.
Marx applied this to economic and political systems, seeing the rising class of the burghers during the Renaissance as the antithesis to the feudal system and class of landed nobility. During the nineteenth century, the steam engine made it possible to build large factories. This made production easier and allowed for masses of people to be employed doing the same thing over and over to make cheap products. This new class of workers, different from the old and smaller class of apprentice and journeyman artisans, Marx called the proletariat. He saw this new class as the antithesis to the bourgeoisie, or capitalist class. Marx expressed optimism that society would eventually find a synthesis which would create the greatest good for all; he labelled this communism.
Max Weber, coming after Marx, was more strongly influenced in his thinking by Kant and even Nietzsche and was much less optimistic about an eventual end of struggle. He saw religious ideas, specifically Protestantism, as essential to the rise of capitalism. For example, deferred gratification allowed people to save money and accumulate enough to expand their businesses. Where Marx saw basically two classes in conflict, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, Weber postulated a rising middle-class between these two, which slowed any progress toward inevitable revolution.
Whereas Marx was a strict materialist, Weber's Neo-Kantian philosophy emphasized moral principles, self-discipline, and autonomy. Essentially, Weber believed we have choices, whereas Marx felt that our ideas and culture are the result of inevitable economic forces.