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April 25, 2018 / C H Thompson

Weber’s explanations for social inequality in wealth, income and poverty

  • Weber (social action) argues an individual’s market situation determines their status and subsequently their wealth and income.
  • Market situation refers to what price an individual can achieve when ‘selling’ their skills
  • To understand the concept of market situation, consider how much a cleaner might be able to sell their labour for, then compare that to a doctor. The doctor has more specialised skills for which he/she can demand a higher price for.
  • From this perspective people with a weak market situation have little or no skills to offer, subsequently they have a weak market situation
  • Those people with low skills often lack qualifications but they also include the disabled, lone parents and elderly who aren’t able to utilise their skills even when they want to


  • The weakness of this argument also ignores the power of inherited wealth whereby these people have the option not to work and utilise their market situation
  • Marxists would argue it ignores the power of the ruling-class not to pay a living-wage due to an excessive supply of skilled labour
  • Feminists would point out it ignores the additional disadvantages women face, such as the glass-ceiling, in undermining their market situation

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