new class

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new class

the concept, first formulated by the Yugoslavian dissident writer Milovan Djilas in 1957, that eastern European societies had not succeeded in overthrowing class rule and were in fact dominated by a new dominant class of party bureaucrats.

More recently GOULDNER (1979) has generalized the notion, suggesting that, despite Marx's assumptions, the underclass in any revolution never come to power, nor do they seem likely to do so in future. Gouldner identifies five theories of the forms in which the ‘new class’ appears within modern societies:

  1. a new class of‘benign democrats’ and managers, e.g. the theories of GALBRAITH, BELL, and of Berle and Means (1932);
  2. the new class as a ‘master class’, which is simply a further ‘moment in a long-continuing circulation of historical élites’, and still exploitative (e.g. Bakunin's view);
  3. the new class as ‘old class ally’, in which the new class are seen as ‘dedicated professionals’ who uplift the old moneyed class to a new ‘collectivity-oriented’ view (e.g. PARSONS);
  4. the new class as the ‘servants of power’, in which the moneyed or capitalist class retains power much as it always did (e.g. CHOMSKY, 1969, and Zeitlin, 1977);
  5. the new class as a ‘flawed universal class’ (Gouldner's own view); that the new class remains ‘self-seeking’ and out to control its own work situation, but is ‘the best card that history has presently given us to play’.

Gouldner suggests that the new class in this fifth sense is growing, and is more powerful and independent than suggested by Chomsky but less powerful than suggested by Galbraith.