Money and Modern Life


Money is a scarce resource valued and accepted by members of society as a means of payment for goods and services. Money is characterized by its functions such as unit of account, medium of exchange, and store of values, medium of exchange and standard of deferred. Money is the major way of property acquisition in the society. The society is differentiated in terms of ownership of capital. The owners of capital own the means of production while the less privileged exist at the mercy of the owners of capital. In all known societies, there is some form of inequality depicted by the manner in which scarce and valued resources are distributed. People have differences in terms of wealth, power, status and prestige.

The rich and the powerful are at the top while the poor and helpless are at the bottom, the rest lie in-between. Two forms of social stratification exist both of which are brought by ownership of capital (Solon 59). Horizontal is on the basis of social attributes such as race, gender, ethnicity and religion while vertical stratification is in terms of economic differences. Horizontal classification plays a big role in stratifying society because it is out of it that economic order of society is realized. This paper exposes the existing differentiations in society.

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It applies the social stratification theory as postulated by various scholars to support the facts. Social stratification is important to socialists since it is universal that is, it exists in both capitalistic and communistic societies.

Max Weber’s Ideas on Economy and Society

Max Weber lived between 1864 and 1920; he discussed three forms of social stratification. Weber classified that an individual is simultaneously a member of three different orders in the society. The three orders are intertwined and do money and resources influence both.

Enjoying the high status of one order enables an individual to acquire another. This is how the society is organized as far as monetary economy is concerned. The three orders are discussed below and how they influence the modern societal organization.

Economic Order (Social Class)

Weber used the term to discuss how goods and services are distributed. It is the way people appropriate property that is, who owns what, who owns property and who is a non-owner of property. There are those members of society today who own property through income earning, they posses professional skills. Others have nothing to offer but their cheap labor, which is readily available in the market. The main distinguishing factor is ownership and non-ownership of capital. The owners of capital are positively privileged while the non-owners are negatively privileged. Those distinguished by skills are also positively privileged because of their rare skills. In the society today, there is an emerging social class called the petty-bourgeoisies who are mainly shopkeepers and retailers.

They also influence the way goods and services are distributed though in minor extents.

Social Order (Status Groups)

Weber used the term status groups to describe how prestige, status and honor are distributed in the society. Money is the determining factor in allocating honor to individuals. People with massive resources occupy high statuses in the society. Status groups are people who belong to a group that share specific styles of life and enjoy certain kind of prestige. According to personal experiences, there are some cultures in society with unique values.

The values are developed and passed from one generation to another. For example, the entrepreneurial values among Indian community, they are investors in small-scale but successful businesses. They dominate most of the East African retail markets. Social order is closely related to economic order because different economic classes tend to belong to different status groups.

Status group is differs with economic social status (economic order) because it comprises of collective actions of groups that cannot be understood or defined in economic terms alone. People are proved having different cultures, tastes, family values and religions (Weber 85).

Legal Order (Political Parties)

Political parties are normally based on ideologies and are major identifying factor in society because human beings are power seekers. Power is sought through a political party in the modern society hence attainment of legal power is tied to democracy. It facilitates the maintenance and acquisition of status and class privileges. People have to come together to seek power collectively through political parties. People hope that with attainment of power, they will be able to influence governmental decision-making in their favor.

This allows them to make money and perpetuate others in the society. Some parties are associated with the poor while others belong to the rich; money is the determining factor in acquisition of power. Parties with enough resources always sail through in elections. Parties may be formed along racial lines or even ethnic lines in some societies but the major distinguishing factor is that political parties are formed within groups, which associate in character. Political power is important in determining which social group dominates others in the society; they are closely associated with economic interests. Actually, they are mechanisms in which people can attain economic privileges (Lemert 20).

Sources of Power in Modern Society

There are three bases of power in modern society since anarchy and aristocracy is no longer valid. The sources are traditional, charisma and legal/rational.

The traditional power is still exercised especially in Britain but in a more advanced way. Only one family produces leaders but the leaders undergo specific training that makes them good leaders. Charisma is found among leaders who have personal charm or magnetism.

These people easily induce others to follow them especially in times of revolutions. Legal power is acquired through legal processes meaning that members of society contest positions. All these are meant to control monetary flow in the society. Power hands individuals with chances of influencing the behavior of others including manufacturing and distribution of factor products (Hurst 45).

Pierre Bourdieu-Sense of Distinction

Bourdieu is a French sociologist who analyzed the society trying to understand the sense of distinction.

Society has different social classes and each class is characterized by habitus (system of cultural practices). Classes have certain peculiar interests, which develop over a long period. Classes are defined by the economic and cultural capital among its members. In each class, there are fractions, which oppose one another and compete for domination. Competition among classes is both intra and inter because of the varying choices that are influenced by experiences especially economic (Bourdieu 100). Members of society have different set of preferences, which are influenced by social conditions of production. Tastes are influenced by cultural practices and economic history of a group. Those with money have different tastes and preferences.

In the society today for instance, teachers have a taste of works of art because they are knowledgeable. They know that art is the symbol of status but because of their level of income, they cannot afford. They look for cheap reprint of the original and elevate them to distinguished works of art.

Teachers are trying to gain cultural capital by so doing but because they do not have the means of obtaining works of art in the market, some of them develop aesthetic ascetism that is, negative attitude. Teachers are against the existing economic arrangement in the society because it denies them comfortable life. The subjugated classes can only appropriate art symbolically through knowledge. In the upper classes, there is tension between the new and the old bourgeoisie because the new tend to consume greatly as opposed to the old who are conservatives and careful in the way they spent their money.

The new bourgeoisie can easily mingle with other members of society in unperturbed, and are more learned in the society.

Principles of Stratification

After scrutinizing society thoroughly, it was found out that some things are constant/stable as far as money acquisition is concerned. Certain positions in society are functionally more important than others are. Different positions require different skills for their performance. Importance of an individual is determined by his/her relative indispensability and replacement. Only limited number of people can move to the top classes in the society hence the elite restrict access to their positions particularly where they have the power to do so (Moore 245). Those who can afford training and subsequent social training are usually children of parents who also occupy/occupied privileged positions in the society (Mulligan 69). The point in which he/she starts influences an individual’s movement in the social ladder.

The lower the level from which the person starts the greater the capability that an individual will moves. An individual’s social origins and family background have a considerate influence towards his/her social mobility. However, the person’s training and early experience have a strong influence on their chances of success economically. The relevance of past carriers increases with an individual’s age, which also has some impacts on current job. Age influences first jobs and socio-cultural backgrounds since they decrease with old age. The age of an individual determines the carriers significance since older people have higher old carrier significance compared to present carrier significance that is highly significant to young people. Generally, low social origins can be an impediment to success. Poor education, large families, ethnicity and race worsen the situation.

Research Methodology

The three articles on stratification that is, Weber’s ideas on society and economy, Bourdeiu’s sense of distinction and principles of stratification adhere to the scientific methodology. The research instruments used in collecting data are accurate and validated. The samples are representative since it was done randomly hence avoiding biases. A research conducted in 2006 in Europe confirmed that the new bourgeoisie mingles freely with the low class as long as they do not interfere with their expensive lifestyles. The articles are therefore valid since they can be tested scientifically that it, it is possible to falsify. Whatever must be done is interpreting the ideas to suit modern life.

The world has changed greatly therefore some things no longer hold such as the rich restricting prestigious positions. Experts in the modern world cannot be barred from executing their duties since they are few. Those that cannot be replaced in the market are made to be shareholders in companies to reduce conflicts. What is so amusing is that money in the modern world controls all forms of activities. It is interesting to sociologists because findings can be applied in any dynamic society that is, economic differentiation exists in every society.


Money is the determining factor in the society, for all activities to be undertaken it must be present.

Karl Max perceived it as the base in the society meaning the means of production instruments such as tools, raw materials and skills. Money must be present for all these to be acquired. The means of production are the most important compared to all other forms of societal activities. Life is dependent on production and distribution. The work that people do in society determines their position. It positions them in relation to culture, ideas, politics, education system and religion. Stratification in society is brought about by money.

The monetary economy is a capitalistic economy where the markets rearrange consumers. People go for goods that satisfy their needs in the most cost effective way. The market on the other hand favors the innovative traders, those who can offer the best value for money (Birdsall 26).

Works Cited

Birdsall, Graham. New Markets, New Opportunities? Economic and Social Mobility in a Changing World.

Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2002. Bourdieu, Pierre. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 1984.

Hurst, Charles. Social Inequality Forms, Causes and Consequences Sixth Edition, Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 2007. Lemert, Charles. Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings Third Edition. Colorado: Westview Press Boulder, 2004. Moore, Williams. Some Principles of Stratification. American Sociological Review, 10.

1 1945: 242–249. Mulligan, Charles. Parental Priorities and Economic Inequality.

Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997. Solon, Gill. Cross-country differences in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility. Journal of Economic Perspectives 16.3 2002: 59–66. Weber, Max .The distribution of power within the community: Classes, Stande, Parties,” Translated by Dagmar Waters, Tony Waters, Elisabeth Hahnke, Maren Lippke, Eva Ludwig-Gluck, Daniel Mai, Nina Ritzi-Messner, Christina Veldhoen and Lucas Fassnacht, Journal of Classical Sociology, 2010.


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