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 hundred years that any category which embraces both company directors and their secretaries must be considered somewhat inadequate.
In popular perception, all white-collar work is middle class, but sociologically it is necessary to sub-divide this class into distinct groups sharing similar market, work, and status situations. For example, John H. Goldthorpe (Social Mobility and Class Structure in Modern Britain, 1980) distinguishes the service class of senior managers and professionals; the junior or subaltern service class of lower professionals such as teachers, junior managers, and administrators; routine non-manual workers such as clerks and secretaries; and owners of small businesses (the traditional petit-bourgeoisie). Conventionally, the service class is referred to as the upper-middle class; the junior service class as the middle class proper; and the others as the lower-middle class. Thus defined, in Britain the upper-middle class comprises some 10 per cent of the population; the middle class accounts for around 20 per cent; and the lower-middle class takes in a further 20 per cent. Taken together, therefore, the middle class is the largest single class in the overall structure.
However, some sociologists (especially those of a Marxist persuasion) would not accept that most routine white-collar workers were middle class, on the grounds that their employment situation is generally equivalent (or even inferior) to that of many working-class people. They prefer to call this group the new working class . This is not a view which most white-collar workers themselves share, nor one which is substantiated by sociological evidence. Equally, the term ‘middle class’ is now often used by journalists and politicians to refer to what might better be called the ‘middle mass’ of those earning somewhere close to average incomes. Evidence from Gordon Marshall et al.'s national study of Social Class in Modern Britain (1984) shows that ordinary people are somewhat more discriminating. For example, 35 per cent of the sample defined the middle-class as professionals ; 11 per cent mentioned managers; only 7 per cent talked of the middle class as being all white-collar workers.
As with the term upper class , distinctions can be made between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ middle class. The former generally refers to the petite bourgeoisie and independent professionals (whose existence as distinct groups pre-dates the twentieth-century expansion of the class as a whole), while the latter refers to all other elements of the middle class: that is, salaried professionals, administrators and officials, senior managers, and higher-grade technicians who together form the service class, and routine non-manual employees, supervisors, and lower-grade technicians who form a more marginal middle class (or, in Marxist terms, a new working class). See also class position ; contradictory class location ; proletarianization.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • middle-class — middle class …   Dictionary of sociology

  • middle class — ♦♦♦ middle classes 1) N COUNT COLL: usu the N The middle class or middle classes are the people in a society who are not working class or upper class. Business people, managers, doctors, lawyers, and teachers are usually regarded as middle class …   English dictionary

  • Middle class — Middle Mid dle (m[i^]d d l), a. [OE. middel, AS. middel; akin to D. middel, OHG. muttil, G. mittel. [root]271. See {Mid}, a.] [1913 Webster] 1. Equally distant from the extreme either of a number of things or of one thing; mean; medial; as, the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • middle-class — adjective * belonging or relating to the middle class: a young poet from a middle class home a. middle class attitudes and behavior are conservative ones that people consider to be typical of the middle class: people with middle class tastes …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • middle-class — adj 1.) typical of people who are educated and work in professional jobs ▪ a middle class family ▪ They lived a comfortable middle class life. 2.) middle class attitudes and ideas are typical of middle class people and are often concerned with… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • middle class — n the social class that includes people who are educated and work in professional jobs, for example teachers or managers →↑lower class, upper class ↑upper class, working class ↑working class ▪ This led to the creation of a new, affluent middle… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Middle Class — Datos generales Origen Santa Ana, California, USA Información artística Género(s) Punk rock, hardcore punk …   Wikipedia Español

  • middle-class — middle classness, n. /mid l klas , klahs /, adj. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of the middle class; bourgeois: middle class taste; middle class morality. [1890 95] * * * …   Universalium

  • middle class — n. the social class between the aristocracy or very wealthy and the lower working class: people in business and the professions, highly skilled workers, well to do farmers, etc. are now generally included in the middle class: see also BOURGEOISIE …   English World dictionary

  • middle class — 1766 (n.); as an adjective, characteristic of the middle class (depreciative) it dates from 1893 …   Etymology dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.