middle class


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middle class:

see bourgeoisiebourgeoisie
, originally the name for the inhabitants of walled towns in medieval France; as artisans and craftsmen, the bourgeoisie occupied a socioeconomic position between the peasants and the landlords in the countryside.
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Middle classclick for a larger image
Fig. 19 Middle class. The figure indicates the increasing middle-class proportion of the gainfully employed population of the UK in the period 1911-71 (percentages). (Adapted from Routh, 1980.)

middle class(es)

the non-manual occupational groups(s) which are located between the UPPER and the WORKING CLASSES.

The term ‘middle’ itself reflects a widely perceived common-sense conception of a status hierarchy in which non-manual work is accorded greater prestige than manual work, but is recognized as socially inferior to groups with major property or political interests. The presence of a large middle class in capitalist societies has been a subject of interest for a number of reasons. Important changes in occupational structure, involving a large increase in non-manual occupations, have forced a re-examination of the concept of social CLASS, particularly with reference to the social and political role of the ‘middle class(es)’.

Until the 19th century, there existed few relatively specialized occupational roles of the kind that now exist, e.g. accountancy teaching, nursing. This is not to say that ‘middle class’ roles in banking and government, and in the traditional PROFESSIONS did not exist. However, in both industry and government, especially over the last 100 years, there has occurred an enormous expansion of non-manual occupations, while the number of manual workers has shrunk (see Fig. 19).

The growth of non-manual occupations, and also the persistence of small businesses and the professions, poses theoretical problems for some traditional approaches to CLASS and SOCIAL STRATIFICATION. Until recently, Marxist theory especially had no well-developed analysis of the nature and significance of the ‘middle classes’. The problems are compounded by the great diversity of non-manual work which ranges from routine clerical work to relatively powerful managerial and professional roles, with the owners of independent small businesses in between. This has led to radically different ideas of where to locate the middle classes within the class structure. It has been argued, for instance, that a process of PROLETARIANIZATION has reduced the status, pay and working conditions of clerical workers to those of the manual working class. Others (e.g. Ehrenreich and Ehrenreich, 1979) have argued that the ‘professional-managerial class’ is a new and distinct class in its own right, while still others (e.g. Poulantzas, 1975) see the development of a NEW PETTY BOURGEOISIE (see also INTELLECTUAL LABOUR, CONTRADICTORY CLASS LOCATIONS).

Such differences in theoretical perspective reflect the diverse and ambiguous character of the middle class(es). It has often been argued, for instance, that non-manual occupations are distinguished by relatively higher pay, better working conditions, more opportunities for promotion, etc., than manual occupations. This argument cannot be sustained for women working in routine clerical jobs or behind shop counters; their WORK and MARKET SITUATION is quite different from that of higher middle-class occupations. On the other hand, routine white-collar workers do, on average, often work fewer hours per week than manual workers, and commonly enjoy great security of income, better sick pay and pension arrangements and greater job security. The further one moves up the status hierarchy the greater become the advantages of higher pay, career prospects and various ‘perks’ (e.g. company cars, low-interest loans or health insurance). The marked differences that exist within the middle class(es) mean that debates about their class situation and the implication of this for CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS, will continue to be held in sociology. See also MULTIDIMENSIONAL ANALYSIS OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION, CLASS IMAGERY, SOCIAL MOBILITY.

Middle Class

Babbitt
self-satisfied conformer to middle-class ideas and ideals. [Am. Lit: Babbitt]
Forsyte
representative of property-owning class in early 20th century. [Br. Lit.: The Forsyte Saga]
Podsnap, John
smugly complacent in his Britishness. [Br. Lit.: Our Mutual Friend]
References in periodicals archive ?
The study explicitly stated that it was moving away from the more conventional tendency to define the middle class as those with an annual income greater than $3,900.
This could suggest that Americans have shifted into a "new normal" way of looking at their class standing, with the Great Recession having convinced a number of Americans that they are not now, nor are they going to be, middle class -- but rather are firmly ensconced in either the working or lower class.
I don't think that's what Cotton meant by his non-answer, although I still don't know where he does think the middle class ends--except that it is presumably south of $200,000, at least in Arkansas.
From 2003 to 2013, revealed the latest available data from the IDB, the middle class in Latin America went from 19.
Commenting on the lower than anticipated total number of middle class households, Freemantle said any view "concerning the undoubted ongoing improvement in Africa's economic performance has to be tempered with the reality that the level of this growth and the nominal size of the continent's middle class had not until now been adequately measured".
Economists adopt some measurable criteria argue and differ whether earning $2 a day or $10 is the entry point for the middle class.
The Making of the Middle Class is a success in that it continues and energizes an ongoing discussion among scholars of social class about the makeup, functions, and representations of that thing called the middle class over a wide swath of geographical space and over several historical eras.
The middle class -- comprising lower social groups, including Dalits, and the upwardly mobile income groups -- played a massive role in the Delhi Assembly elections.
Secondly, the middle class is not necessarily a new phenomenon in Africa but the project uncovers major differences with its prior incarnation.
T H C Stevenson identified the middle class as falling between the upper class and the working class.
CHICAGO, July 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Chinese middle class-they are wealthy, have a passion for travel, a love of brands and are providing new opportunities for the Australasia region, as new research from Mintel finds that as many as 40% of all Chinese middle classes holidayed in Australasia last year, making it the most visited region worldwide for Chinese middle class consumers.
CHICAGO, July 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- While the Eastern promise presented by Chinese consumers has become universally acknowledged in recent years, out of the increase of power and prosperity in China, a new middle class sector has emerged, creating with it even more opportunities for those brands prepared to tap into their changing tastes and preferences.

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