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What makes Biblio different? Facebook Instagram Twitter. Sign In Register Help Cart. Cart items. Toggle navigation. Social Sciences Sociology. Ships with Tracking Number! Buy with confidence, excellent customer service! May not contain Access Codes or Supplements. Today we still talk of free labour markets and the dual meaning is much the same.

While the relationship between workers and capitalists, or between labour and capital may appear to be no more than an economic relationship of equals meeting equals in the labour market, Marx shows how it is an exploitative social relationship.

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Not only is it exploitative, it is contradictory, with the interests of the two partners in the relationship being directly opposed to each other. Although at the same time, the two opposed interests are also partners in the sense that both capital and labour are required in production and an exploitative relationship means an exploiter and someone being exploited. This relationship is further contradictory in that it is not just two sets of interests, but there is no resolution of the capital-labour contradiction within the organization of capitalism as a system.

The contradictory relationship has class conflict built into it, and leads to periodic bursts of strikes, crises, political struggles, and ultimately to the overthrow of bourgeois rule by the proletariat. Class conflict of this sort results in historical change and is the motive force in the history of capitalism. In addition to the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, Marx discussed a number of other classes. First, Marx mentions landowners or landlords as a class in Britain.

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While these were historically important, and many still retain their wealth even today e. In order to retain their wealth, some of these landowners were able to transform their wealth in land into landed capital. While this constituted a somewhat different form than industrial capital, this meant that the land was also used as capital, to accumulate. Labour may not be directly employed by landowners, but the land is used as a means by which capital can be expanded.

Petty Bourgeoisie and Middle Class.

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The lower middle class or the petty petite bourgeoisie the bourgeoisie was sometimes called the middle class in this era , constitutes "the small manufacturer, the shopkeeper, the artisan, the peasant" Giddens and Held, p. The characteristic of this class is that it does own some property, but not sufficient to have all work done by employees or workers. Members of this class must also work in order to survive, so they have a dual existence — as small scale property owners and as workers.

Because of this dual role, members of this class have divided interests, usually wishing to preserve private property and property rights, but with interests often opposed to those of the capitalist class. This class is split internally as well, being geographically, industrially, and politically dispersed, so that it is difficult for it to act as a class.

Marx expected that this class would disappear as capitalism developed, with members moving into the bourgeoisie or into the working class, depending on whether or not they were successful. Many in this class have done this, but at the same time, this class seems to keep recreating itself in different forms.

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Marx considers the petite bourgeoisie to be politically conservative or reactionary, preferring to return to an older order. This class has been considered by some Marxists to have been the base of fascism in the s and s.

Classes, Power and Conflict: Classical and Contemporary Debates by Anthony Giddens

At other times, when it is acting in opposition to the interests of large capital, it may have a more radical or reformist bent to it anti-monopoly. Note on the Middle Class.


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The issue of the middle class or classes appears to be a major issue within Marxian theory, one often addressed by later Marxists. Many Marxists attempt to show that the middle class is declining, and polarization of society into two classes is a strong tendency within capitalism. Marx's view was that the successful members of the middle class would become members of the bourgeoisie, while the unsuccessful would be forced into the proletariat.

In the last few years, many have argued that in North America, and perhaps on a world scale, there is an increasing gap between rich and poor and there is a declining middle. While there have been tendencies in this direction, especially among the farmers and peasantry, there has been no clear long run trend toward decline of the middle class. At the same time as there has been polarization of classes, there have been new middle groupings created.

Some of these are small business people, shopkeepers, and small producers while others are professional and managerial personnel, and some intellectual personnel. Well paid working class members and independent trades people might consider themselves to be members of the middle class. Some segments of this grouping have expanded in number in recent years.

While it is not clear that these groups hold together and constitute a class in any Marxian sense of being combined in opposition to other classes, they do form a middle grouping. Since Marx's prediction has not come true, sociologists and other writers have devoted much attention to explaining this middle grouping — what is its basis, what are the causes of its stability or growth, how it fits into the class structure, and what are the effects of its existence on proletariat and bourgeoisie. Marx also mentions the "dangerous class" or the social scum.

Among the members of this group are "ruined and adventurous offshoots of the bourgeoisie, vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged jailbirds.. This is the lumpenproletariat.

He does not consider this group to be of any importance in terms of potential for creating socialism, if anything they may be considered to have a conservative influence. Other writers and analysts have considered them to have some revolutionary potential. One of the main reasons for mentioning them is to emphasize how capitalism uses, misuses and discards people, not treating them as humans. Today's representative of this class of lumpenproletariat are the homeless and the underclass.

Peasantry and Farmers. Marx considered the peasantry to be disorganized, dispersed, and incapable of carrying out change. Marx also expected that this class would tend to disappear, with most becoming displaced from the land and joining the proletariat. The more successful might become landowners or capitalist farmers.

With respect to family farmers as a group, much the same could be said. However, Marx was not really very familiar with these as a group, and had little to say about these. The various analyses of the role of farmers in the Prairies constitute a more adequate view of what may be expected from this group. They could be considered to form a class when they act together as a group. In the early days of Prairie settlement, farms were of similar size, farmers had generally similar interests, and the farm population acted together to create the cooperative movement and the Wheat Board.

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