class consciousness

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class consciousness

the awareness, amongst members of a social CLASS, of common interests which are based on their own class situation and are in opposition to the interests of other classes. The term is particularly associated with MARXISM, where the concern is often either with the processes which foster the development of class consciousness in the PROLETARIAT, or involves discussions as to why such a consciousness has not developed. A basic distinction here is between a class-in-itself- the objective basis of class interests – and a class-for-itself- the consciousness of these interests. The basic idea is that a set of values and beliefs and a political organization will, or should, emerge in order to represent and realize the objective interests of a class. In the case of the WORKING CLASS, certain aspects of their work and life situations (exploitation, ALIENATION, periodic mass unemployment and poverty, etc.) are seen as facilitating a growing awareness of a common situation and encouraging a collective response. Most Marxists agree, however, that only a limited awareness and set of objectives are arrived at spontaneously LENIN, for example, in a very influential pamphlet (1902), argued that, left to itself, the working class would develop only an ‘economistic’ consciousness, limited to demands for better pay and conditions within the capitalist system. Lenin, like many Marxists, was interested in the overthrow of CAPITALISM, not in its reform. Thus, he argued that a revolutionary (‘vanguard’) party was necessary to transform TRADE UNION CONSCIOUSNESS into political, ‘revolutionary consciousness’ and action. This has been a recurrent theme in Marxist writings on the proletariat – the issue of why a revolutionary class consciousness’ has never developed among the working classes of the most developed capitalist states. In the 1920s and 30s, for example, LUKACS and GRAMSCI developed different critiques of‘crude’ Marxism, emphasizing theoretical and cultural factors which impeded the development of‘true’ consciousness or promoted the development of ‘FALSE CONSCIOUSNESS’.

A substantial literature also exists on CLASS IMAGERY, the actual images of class possessed by social ACTORS, and, at the same time, sociologists have taken up the issue of the limits and possibilities of the notion of ‘class consciousness’ in the Marxian sense. This is a theme which also underlies debate on the NEW WORKING CLASS. MANN (1973) argued that one may find awareness of class membership and also group solidarity, but it is ‘rather unlikely’ that the working class can produce, independently, an alternative vision of a new society. This type of sociological approach seeks to do more than echo Lenin's 70-year-old conclusion. Instead, it attempts to operationalize the concept of working-class consciousness by identifying it as involving four elements:

  1. ‘class identity’ – the definition of oneself as working-class;
  2. ‘class opposition’ – the definition of an opposed (capitalist) class;
  3. ‘class totality’ – (a) and (b) taken as together defining the ‘whole society’;
  4. an alternative vision of society

Mann concluded that British workers are usually limited to

  1. only occasionally incorporating
  2. See also HEGEMONY.
References in periodicals archive ?
It does seem to me that in our culture, us Scots are less class-conscious and more egalitarian than our English cousins
It further touches on the desperate lot of the British bomber aircrews, their loss rates, the misunderstanding associated with treating woes stemming from low morale, and its connection to faulty leadership: "The class-conscious British hierarchy did little to instill faith in one's superiors, who may have been promoted through family connections or had the privilege of an upper-class education" (p.
Margaret Sanger's baptism by class-conscious fire occurred during a 1912 strike by textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
In the UK, we are very class-conscious, and I''m obviously not from the ghetto.
Hakiam, a high school dropout with a troubled past, is exactly the type of young man Wendy's class-conscious father wants her to avoid, when they meet at a community tutoring center, they make snap judgments about one another.
Two experiments were conducted to evaluate the effects of implementing class-conscious admissions on the racial and socioeconomic diversity of accepted classes.
This volume focuses on the antiwar campaign initiated in opposition to World War II by the Minneapolis Teamsters Local 544; how it led to clashes between the local and the Teamster bureaucracy, aided by the Roosevelt administration's efforts to gag class-conscious workers; the subsequent federal trial on charges of sedition under the infamous Smith Act of local 544 organizers; and the international campaign to free those convicted and jailed, Dobbs among them.
Some of the talk last week was about whether Britain is a less class-conscious place because William has 'lowered' himself to marry someone from the (very wealthy) middle classes.
morir si giovane," surrounded by the tormented faces of class-conscious hypocrisy.
Her approach is to examine the event of attending the theatre, considering specific and nuanced differences between, for example, productions at the Opera Comique from those at the Savoy, and demonstrating how, ultimately, the series of operas "became a locus of identity and security" for the class-conscious audiences, created a collective "family likeness" between operas, and "became the folk legacy of the urban consumer.
In our class-conscious mother country of England, Esquire ("Esq.
Born in Virginia but raised in dying Torrington--hence embittered working class and lapsed Roman Catholic--she is one acutely class-conscious Connecticut Girl.

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