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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

Evaluation

  • 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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