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class formationthe organized collectivities within a class structure and the processes by which these emerge.
The distinction between ‘class structure’ and ‘class formation’ can be seen as a basic, if often implicit, distinction in class analysis (Wright, 1985). If class structure can be seen as composed of those factors which establish the broad pattern of CLASS INTERESTS, class opportunities, life chances, etc. within a society, ‘class formation’ refers to the actual collectivities, class action, etc. which are generated on the basis of this structure. In classical Marxism, the relationship between class structure and class formation has sometimes been treated as relatively unproblematic. Neo-Marxist and Weberian approaches, on the other hand, have usually regarded the relationship as one requiring empirical exploration, although it is usually agreed the general conditions likely to be conducive to class formations can be identified, e.g. the conditions for the existence of CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS (see also CLASS CONFLICT, CLASS STRUGGLE).