The working class (also labouring class and proletariat) are the people employed for wages, especially in manual-labour occupations and industrial work. Working-class occupations include blue-collar jobs, some white-collar jobs, and most pink-collar jobs. The working class only rely upon their earnings from wage labour, thereby, the category includes most of the working population of industrialized economies, of the urban areas (cities, towns, villages) of non-industrialized economies, and of the rural workforce. In Marxist theory and socialist literature, the term working class is often used interchangeably with the term proletariat, and includes all workers who expend both physical and mental labour (salaried knowledge workers and white-collar workers) to produce economic value for the owners of the means of production (the bourgeoisie in Marxist literature).
1 Definitions 2 History and growth 3 Marxist definition: the proletariat 4 See also 5 References 6 Further reading 7 External links
Definitions As with many terms describing social class, working class is defined and used in many different ways. The most general definition, used by Marxists and socialists, is that the working class includes all those who have nothing to sell but their labor-power and skills. In that sense it includes both white and blue-collar workers, manual and mental workers of all types, excluding only individuals who derive their income from business ownership and the labor of others. When used non-academically in the United States, however, it often refers to a section of society dependent on physical labor, especially when compensated with an hourly wage. For certain types of science, as well as less scientific or journalistic political analysis, for example, the working class is loosely defined as those without college degrees. Working-class occupations are then categorized into four groups: Unskilled laborers, artisans, outworkers, and factory workers. A common alternative, sometimes used in sociology, is to define class by income levels. When this approach is used, the working class can be contrasted with a so-called middle class on the basis of differential terms of access to economic resources, education, cultural interests, and other goods and services. The cut-off between working class and middle class here might mean the line where a population has discretionary income, rather than simply sustenance (for example, on fashion versus merely nutrition and shelter). Some researchers have suggested that working-class status should be defined subjectively as self-identification with the working-class group. This subjective approach allows people, rather than researchers, to define their own social class. History and growth
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In feudal Europe, the working class as such did not exist in large
numbers. Instead, most people were part of the laboring class, a group
made up of different professions, trades and occupations. A lawyer,
craftsman and peasant were all considered to be part of the same
social unit, a third estate of people who were neither aristocrats nor
church officials. Similar hierarchies existed outside Europe in other
pre-industrial societies. The social position of these laboring
classes was viewed as ordained by natural law and common religious
belief. This social position was contested, particularly by peasants,
for example during the German Peasants' War.
In the late 18th century, under the influence of the Enlightenment,
European society was in a state of change, and this change could not
be reconciled with the idea of a changeless god-created social order.
Wealthy members of these societies created ideologies which blamed
many of the problems of working-class people on their morals and
ethics (i.e. excessive consumption of alcohol, perceived laziness and
inability to save money). In The Making of the English Working Class,
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Main article: Proletariat
Striking teamsters battling police on the streets of Minneapolis, Minnesota, the US, June 1934.
The class status of people in a temporary or permanent position of unemployment. The class status of domestic labor, particularly the children (see child labour), and also traditionally the wives of male workers, as some spouses do not themselves work in paying jobs outside the home. Whether workers can be considered working class if they own personal property or small amounts of stock ownership. The relationships among peasants, rural smallholders, and the working class. The extent to which non-class group identities and politics (race, gender, et al.) can obviate or substitute for working-class membership in Enlightenment projects, where working-class membership is prohibitively contradictory or obfuscated.
Possible responses to some of these issues are:
Unemployed workers are proletariat. Class for dependents is determined by the primary income earner. Personal property is argued to be different from private property. For example, the proletariat can own automobiles; this is personal property. The self-employed worker may be a member of the petite bourgeoisie (for example, a small store owner who controls little capital), or a de facto member of the proletariat (for example, a contract worker whose income may be relatively high, but is precarious and tied to the need to sell one's labor on the labor market).
In general, in Marxist terms, wage laborers and those dependent on the welfare state are working class, and those who live on accumulated capital are not. This broad dichotomy defines the class struggle. Different groups and individuals may at any given time be on one side or the other. For example, retired factory workers are working-class in the popular sense; but to the extent that they live off fixed incomes, financed by stock in corporations whose earnings are profit, retired factory workers' interests, and possibly their identities and politics, are not working class. Such contradictions of interests and identity within individuals' lives and within communities can effectively undermine the ability of the working class to act in solidarity to reduce exploitation, inequality, and the role of ownership in determining people's life chances, work conditions, and political power. See also
Household income in the United States
^ working class. Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
^ Martin Glaberman (17 September 1974). "Marxist Views of the Working
Class". Marxists.org. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
Thomas B. Edsall (June 17, 2012). "Canaries in the CoaMine" (Blog by
expert). The New York Times. Retrieved June 18, 2012.
^ Doob, B. Christopher (2013). Social Inequality and Social
Stratification in US Society. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson
Education. ISBN 0-205-79241-3.
^ Rubin, M. (2014). ""I Am Working-Class": Subjective Self-Definition
as a Missing Measure of Social Class and Socioeconomic Status in
Benson, John. The Working Class in Britain 1850-1939 (IB Tauris, 2003)
Blackledge, Paul (2011). "Why workers can change the world". Socialist
Review 364. London.
Engels, Friedrich, Condition of the Working Class in
Look up working class in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
The Center for Working-Class Studies at Youngstown State University International Labor and Working-Class History Journal Images of the working class between 1840 and 1945 from the McCord Museum's online collection The Working-Class poetry of Gerald Massey Definition of "Working Class", Dictionary.com An introduction to the working class, Prole.info Bibliography - Work, Workers and their Workplaces Working Moms List of Working Class Literature List of Working Class Videos — Movies, and Documentaries Paulo Freire Research Center–Finland BBC Archive collection of TV & Radio programmes about Working Class Britain Caring too much. That's the curse of the working classes. David Graeber for The Guardian. March 2014. US millennials feel more working class than any other generation. The Guardian. March 2016.
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