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+ Max Weber on Class, Status and Party “The term ‘class’ refers to any group of people that is found in the same class situation.” -Max Weber In analyzing Weber’s argument, it appears to be superficially reasonable. Yet, when we attempt to apply his theories, it becomes difficult finding actual and concrete examples of status, class and power within the framework of modern capitalistic society. Weber’s definitions of the three above terms accurately classify several institutional groups and entities, but are these definitions applicable to all facets of society? By observing several groups of people that do not necessarily fall under Weberian ideals of class, status and party, we discover that his definitions are not universal ones. Immigrant and refugee groups do not always fall within Weberian interpretations of class, status and party. Do refugee groups, resulting from victim diasporas, undeniably constitute a “class?” Although Weber discusses status and party, the main focus of this particular writing will be to reveal that these victim groups do not define a class grouping. According to Weber, people found within the same class situation form a class. Those who share common economic interests within a labor market, possess goods and opportunities for income, and share the same life chances constitute a class situation (class). Members of a victim diaspora do not share any of the three determinants of Weberian class situation. Various political forces often drive groups of people to emigrate from their homelands. As these forms of suppression persist, migratory patterns increase. Refugees flee their homes, seeking asylum in different host countries. Economic motivations and the idea of homo economicus are both absent. These people are fleeing for a singular and basic purpose, which is to survive.

Refugees simply do not share class situations upon arrival to their host countries. The Vietnamese refugees in America, for example, possessed no common life chances, except for the fact that they were essentially expelled from the nation of Vietnam. Refugees, although they might have possessed similar life chances in their homelands, can not continue to do so after immigration, due to the “scattering” effect of refugees. Upon arriving to America, portions of the Vietnamese were educated citizens, knowledgeable in business and suitable for capitalistic society. They constituted the first wave of Vietnamese refugees, forming the foundations for social networks and lending of resources within the group. Yet, the second wave included Vietnamese from various backgrounds. Some were able to tap into the established social networks based upon previous ties with the first wave immigrants. These people acquired loans and funds to start businesses or further educate themselves. Yet, some were unsuccessful in accomplishing such a feat. Consequently, they had to assume service jobs. The Vietnamese immigrants clearly did not possess either the same life chances nor the goods or opportunities for income.


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