contradictory class location
- During the 1970s class analysis (particularly of a Marxist kind) was preoccupied with the problem of assigning class positions to those ‘intermediate’ roles (such as manager, supervisor, or salaried professional) which seemed to be neither unambiguously of the bourgeoisie nor of the proletariat , and so generated a series of ‘boundary problems’ in the generation of class taxonomies. The resulting literature (the so-called boundary debate), which featured extensive contributions from the likes of Nicos Poulantzas , Guglielmo Carchedi, and John and Barbara Ehrenreich, is cogently summarized in Nicholas Abercrombie and John Urry's Capital, Labour, and the Middle Classes (1983). By far the most sustained attempt to solve these boundary issues was Erik Olin Wright's theory of ‘contradictory class locations’.Wright, an American Marxist, argued that in each mode of production certain basic social classes are defined by being completely polarized within the relevant social relations of production . Under capitalism , for example, the working class is wholly dispossessed of the means of production, must sell its labour-power to the bourgeoisie , and so is both exploited and dominated by it. However, in the absence of wholesale polarization, contradictory locations within a mode of production also arise. Managers have contradictory interests as a class: like workers, they are exploited by capitalists (who make a profit from managerial work), yet like capitalists themselves they dominate and control workers. Moreover, concrete social formations rarely comprise a single mode of production, so that capitalist societies, for example, typically contain certain non-capitalist forms of production relations. Most obviously, they inherit the legacy of simple commodity production, in which direct producers own and control their own productive means-the petite bourgeoisie or own-account workers more common to feudal societies. Certain class relations interpenetrate both modes of production and so constitute contradictory relations between them. Small employers, for example, are simultaneously petit bourgeois and capitalist, in that they are self-employed direct producers, but also employers and therefore exploiters of labour-power. Similarly, an extensive group of so-called ‘semi-autonomous employees’ (such as salaried professionals) do not own productive means, but still exercise considerable control over their activities within production: they are, therefore, in a contradictory class location defined by elements of both proletarian and petit bourgeois existence.As a Marxist, Wright's principal aim was to identify which among these contradictory class locations offered the most likely allies for the working class, in its struggle against capitalist exploitation and domination. His theory has been refined during the course both of several lengthy theoretical exegeses, and a major empirical programme of class analysis, involving research teams in countries throughout the world (see’s Class, Crisis and the State, 1978; Class Structure and Income Determination, 1979; and Classes, 1985).Wright's reformulation of the concept of class has been controversial, both within Marxism and without, and has been criticized as static, mechanical, deterministic, and (in common with the arguments of most other structuralists ) devoid of human agency. However, it has also generated enthusiastic support, notably among those who see in it a corrective to the excessive individualism of the alternative status attainment tradition of class analysis in the United States. Wright's The Debate on Classes(1989) gives a good overview of the arguments and the enormous secondary literature generated by his project. See also middle class.
Dictionary of sociology. 2013.
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contradictory class locations — contradictory class location … Dictionary of sociology
class — class, social class See bourgeoisie ; class awareness ; class consciousness ; class imagery ; class interest ; class position ; contradictory class location ; false consciousness ; Marx , Karl; middle class ; … Dictionary of sociology
middle class — middle class, middle classes In many ways this is the least satisfactory term which attempts in one phrase to define a class sharing common work and market situations. The middle stratum of industrial societies has expanded so much in the last… … Dictionary of sociology
middle class, new — See contradictory class location ; proletarianization … Dictionary of sociology
new middle class — See contradictory class location ; proletarianization … Dictionary of sociology
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petite bourgeoisie — (or petty bourgeoisie) Defined by Karl Marx as a ‘transitional class’, in which the interests of the major classes of capitalist society (the bourgeoisie and the proletariat ) meet and become blurred, the petite bourgeoisie is located between… … Dictionary of sociology
proletariat — Karl Marx s working class under capitalism . Accorded the role of prime vehicle of revolutionary and emancipating change through its formation, ascendancy, and eventual triumph, the proletariat is today diminishing in size, political potency, and … Dictionary of sociology
Erik Olin Wright — (né en 1947, à Berkeley en Californie), est un sociologue américain. Ses travaux traitent principalement de l étude des classes sociales, avec comme objectif de moderniser le concept marxiste de classe. Il est professeur de sociologie à l… … Wikipédia en Français