In order to assess the viewpoints of Karl Marx and Max Weber relating to the emergence of a Capitalist society it is first important explain what Capitalism is. It is then necessary to outline what stand and viewpoint both sociological theorists took. From their own ideas it will then be feasible to contrast their separate accounts in an effort to draw a conclusion on their views.
Capitalism arises from the transition of a feudal society to a capitalist society. According to Giddens this occurs when "a system of economic enterprise based on market exchange exits. Economic systems are based on free enterprise and on economic competition." (1997. Pg.587) .
There are many different accounts relating to the emergence of capitalism. The two theories that are most widely renowned are those given by Karl Marx and Max Weber. These two theories, although similar in some directions, contrast each other in many ways. "Marx and Weber both agree that capitalism is not the best social or economic system they differ very strongly in their views of the formation, aspects and future of capitalism." (freeessays.cc). Marx believed strongly in what he called dialectical materialism, that is, that everything is material and that change takes place through the struggle between classes. .
Marx wrote about the development of capitalist society as an inevitable step towards the final goal of communism. Although Marx wrote about Capitalism he never had any faith in a capitalist society working. His thoughts were that only a "civil society" could ever prevail. Marx takes an activist approach with his beliefs and theories. With this in mind Marx hypothesised many steps and stages that society would have to follow in order to reach societies ideal "goal", Communism.
In broad terms, Marx viewed capitalism as a social system with the following basic characteristics: "one, the naked exploitation of many people by a few people, two, contradictions, strains and tensions within the system.