The essential difference in these two theories is what drives a society towards its advancements. Marx believed that the inequality between the haves and have-nots would lead to a revolt from the proletariat. (The proletariat are easily described as the workers who are employed by the capitalists.) According to Marx, the proletariat and capitalists were class descendants of masters and slaves, and nobles and serfs. When the Industrial Revolution came to western Europe in the mid 1840's, Marx saw that the capitalists who owned the factories, and the workers who filled them, were growing further and further apart in class standing. The very rich could afford great luxuries, while the lower class worked full weeks to feed their families. He summed up that an eventual revolution was the next logical step. When the proletariat gained class consciousness, a recognition of their strength in unity, they would overthrow the shackles of the capitalists, and eventually capitalism itself. And what of the capitalists? The capitalists vast wealth, protected by the institutions of society, made them strong, indeed. Marx believed they would be slow to band together like the proletariat. He summarized that capitalists were afraid of competition from other capitalists, out of a desire for personal gain. Furthermore, he reasoned, because the capitalists kept employee wages low, the workers drive to turn against them would be all the greater, contributing to the capitalists downfall. In Marx's theories, this conflict between proletariat and capitalist was to be the driving force that shaped society into a cooperative socialist society that met everybody's needs. .
Max Weber's ideas were formed about 50 years after Marx's work. He shared many of Marx's views on social conflict, but they differed on what was essentially driving society. In Weber's sociological theory, there are two different views of the world, tradition and rationality.