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Assess The View That The Fragmentation Of The Middle Class Has Occurred

1067 words - 5 pages

Assess the view that fragmentation of the middle class has occurred.The middle class is the non-manual white-collar workers. The British sociologist, Anthony Giddeons' describes this class as separate from the upper class because they own hardly any means of production. They do however possess widely recognized skills, mainly mental, which they can sell to the highest bidder. The fragmentation of the middle class is explained by sociologists as the division of members of the said class into groups, based on market and work situation, income, job and lifestyle.The sociologists, Roberts et al. (1977) discovered while conducting a study of a sample of 243 male white-collar workers that four ...view middle of the document...

They had no sense of class loyalty and rejected the whole principle of social class.The fourth image called the "proletarian image" received 14 percent of the sample. They considered themselves working class and having more in common with manual workers than top management and higher professionals. Those holding this view were usually in routine white-collar jobs with little possibility of promotion and received rather low wages.Roberts et al. concluded that whilst it is true that there are factors present for the development of middle class attitudes among the white collar workers, such wide variations in white-collar class imagery meant that the middle class was fragmented and that this fragmentation would increase in time as social trends change.Roberts et al. have received numerous criticisms for their work. Many sociologists believe that one should never rely on subjective class images. Neo-Marxists believe that the middle class is in reality split in two with the upper part closer to the bourgeoisie and the lower part closer to the working class. In fact, Marxists such as Harry Braverman goes as far as to say that increasingly more members of the lower middle class are becoming part of the working class because many of them earn less than many manual workers. This process is called proletarianization. Marxists like Westergaard and Resler believe in the existence of a coherent middle class. They refer to the upper middle class as the petty bourgeoisie. Marxists claim that while the petty bourgeoisie does not own the means of production, they are firm believers in the ruling class's values and usually have power over working class members.Neo-Weberians like John H. Goldthrope prefer to use market and work situation to determine fragmentation in the middle class. Goldthrope (1980) calls the middle class "the intermediate stratum". The intermediate stratum possesses a very weak class identity because the range of occupations within it differs considerably and because its members are socially mobile. Hence, members remain only a short period before moving to a different class. Goldthrope concluded that the...

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