Marx on Social Class
The possessing classes and the class of the proletariat present pictures of the same human .. Capital is the link between the worker and the capitalist, since the. The proletariat is the class of wage-earners in an economic society whose only possession of Labor movement[show] . Marxism sees the proletariat and bourgeoisie (capitalist class) as occupying conflicting positions, since Surplus value is the difference between the wealth that the proletariat produces through its. Bourgeoisie and Proletariat from the Communist Manifesto by Carl Marx and Friedrich Engels. and proletariat. Enlarge · Show transcript Marx saw history as the story of class struggles, in which the oppressed fight against their oppressors.
In such a society, the bourgeoisie's ownership of the means of production allowed them to employ and exploit the wage-earning working class urban and ruralpeople whose only economic means is labour; and the bourgeois control of the means of coercion suppressed the sociopolitical challenges by the lower classes, and so preserved the economic status quo; workers remained workers, and employers remained employers.
Besides describing the social class who owns the means of productionthe Marxist use of the term "bourgeois" also describes the consumerist style of life derived from the ownership of capital and real property.
- The Communist Manifesto - Bourgeoisie and Proletariat
Marx acknowledged the bourgeois industriousness that created wealth, but criticised the moral hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie when they ignored the alleged origins of their wealth: Further sense denotations of "bourgeois" describe ideological concepts such as "bourgeois freedom", which is thought to be opposed to substantive forms of freedom; "bourgeois independence"; "bourgeois personal individuality"; the "bourgeois family"; et cetera, all derived from owning capital and property see The Communist Manifesto France and French-speaking countries[ edit ] In English, the term bourgeoisie is often used to denote the middle classes.
In fact, the French term encompasses both the upper and middle classes,  a misunderstanding which has occurred in other languages as well. The bourgeoisie in France and many French-speaking countries consists of four evolving social layers: Petite Bourgeoisie The petite bourgeoisie refers to "a social class that is between the middle class and the lower class: They tend to belong to a family that has been bourgeois for three or more generations.
The moyenne bourgeoisie is the equivalent of the British and American upper-middle classes. Grande bourgeoisie[ edit ] The grande bourgeoisie are families that have been bourgeois since the 19th century, or for at least four or five generations.
This bourgeois family has acquired an established historical and cultural heritage over the decades. The names of these families are generally known in the city where they reside, and their ancestors have often contributed to the region's history. These families are respected and revered. They belong to the upper class, and in the British class system are considered part of the gentry. In the French-speaking countries, they are sometimes referred la petite haute bourgeoisie.
In France, it is composed of bourgeois families that have existed since the French Revolution. They have rich cultural and historical heritages, and their financial means are more than secure.
Marx saw history as the story of class struggles, in which the oppressed fight against their oppressors. According to Marx, as history unfolded, the victory of one class would pave the way for the future freedom of the rest of society.
Marx viewed the unfolding process of history as follows: First in ancient and mediaeval society the landed and wealthy had oppressed the slaves and the poorest plebeians and labourers. Then, as new technologies were invented and market forces grew stronger, everything changed.
The middle classes - gaining wealth and power from trade and manufacture - challenged the power and authority of the old rulers. But at this stage a new struggle was formed between the bourgeoisie the property owning class and the proletariat the industrial working class. Marx argued that the capitalist bourgeoisie mercilessly exploited the proletariat. People who had subsisted on the land were denied the possibility of making a living on the land, and they become propertyless.
Population growth was also considerable, and in some areas forced labour slavery, indentured servants, poor, prison was used. While some people subsisted in rural industry and craft production, factory production began to undermine these as well in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Together these changes created a large class of landless and propertyless people who had no choice but to become members of the proletariat — many working in factories. These people became free wage labourers, free from feudal ties and free from a source of livelihood. 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. 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.
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.
Bourgeoisie - Wikipedia
The lower middle class or the petty petite bourgeoisie the bourgeoisie was sometimes called the middle class in this eraconstitutes "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.
The Attitude of the Bourgeoisie Towards the Proletariat
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. 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. 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.
The Attitude of the Bourgeoisie Towards the Proletariat
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.