Class, status and power are usually seen together as the three-component theory of stratification (according to Max Weber)

  • Class - the division of a society based on socioeconomic status

  • Status - the relative rank that an individual holds in a social

  • Power - the ability to exercise one’s will over others
    despite resistance.

From how I interpreted it, class, status and power have to exist together. For example, given one's class, one would have some sort of status and power.

Are there instances of class, status or power that exist independently?

  • In primitive society we have status and power but it is hard to speak of "classes". – Mauro ALLEGRANZA May 13 '18 at 10:39
  • "To have class" is colloquial speech for status, there is perhaps some confusion here. Otherwise the independence of the three was the idea behind democracy which western countries still claim to embody. Actually neoliberal ideologies did their best to collapse it into one-dimensional economism: now money ensures status and, disregarding pious claim to the contrary, it can buy power. – sand1 May 14 '18 at 8:54

If a class is a socioeconomic group, it can certainly be separated from status in Weber's sense of honour or respect. A priestly caste might have high social status without constituting any kind of socioeconomic group. Equally power could be exercised by an occupying military force which was not a socioeconomic group and had no status (in Weber's sense).

A different angle is to suggest that even when (as is usually the case) class, status and power are interrelated in a society, they do not co-vary in any consistent, lawlike way. A class that gains more power does not automatically gain higher social status. Equally a group may retain high social status even though its power diminishes. I can't go through all the permutations but the idea will be clear.


Hans H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, New York, 1946

Oliver C. Cox, 'Max Weber on Social Stratification: A Critique', American Sociological Review, Vol. 15, No. 2 (Apr., 1950), pp. 223-227.


Yes, it is possible.

Let's say we have an area where we have 3 classes that handle 3 types of animals: pigs, cows and sheep. They are all grouped by the type of animal they grow. They are equal and trade between groups. There is no extra power for a specific group. Within each group, you can have a status. Certain members may care better than other for their animals. This is inevitable. But no power is needed to have status and class in this example.

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