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The Reshaping and Dissolution of Social Class in Advanced Society Author(s): Jan Pakulski and Malcolm Waters Reviewed

work(s): Source: Theory and Society, Vol. 25, No. 5 (Oct., 1996), pp. 667-691 Published by: Springer Stable URL: . Accessed: 25/02/2012 10:41
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on Symposium class

The reshapingand dissolution of social class in advanced society

University of Tasmania

In 1958 Robert Nisbet declared to a meeting of the American Sociological Association in Seattle that: "the term social class is by now useful in historical sociology, in comparative or folk sociology, but that it is nearly valueless for the clarification of the data of wealth, power, and social status in the contemporary United States and much of Western society in general."1Why then should an argument now be mounted in support of a similar view? The reason is that the concept has a plasticity in the face of evidence and a resilience to disconfirmation that would be the envy of many a materials scientist.2 Indeed Nisbet's declaration seems to have energized and expanded the "class industry" rather than to have consigned it to the conceptual graveyard to rest peacefully alongside "mores," "the folk-urban continuum," "functional prerequisites," and "the unit act." The two main "enterprises" in that industry are multinational in character, one extending from Madison, Wisconsin to establish branch plants in more than a dozen countries throughout Europe, Asia, and Australasia, the other centering on Oxford and linking with similar operations in Northern Europe, Japan, and Australia.3 In a restless effort to accommodate increased societal complexity, they have expanded the number of classes to such an extent that whereas twenty years ago students had to decide whether there were two or three classes, they now have to decide whether there are seven or twelve. In our view, each of these represents an effort, however genuine, to manufacture class where it no longer exists as a meaningful social entity. Adding another article to an already overflowing "classological" literature requires considerable justification. That justification lies both in the radical nature of the claims we make, the growing interest in the issue in the sociological community, and its political implications. We argue that in advanced societies there has been a radical dissolution of
Theory and Society 25: 667-691, 1996. ? 1996 KluwerAcademic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.

668 class in two senses: a decentering of economic relationships, especially property- and production-based relationships as determinants of membership, identity, and conflict, and a shift in patterns of group formation and lines of sociopolitical cleavage. We are arguing not merely for the demise of the old industrial classes and an associated rise of new class cleavages and conflicts, but for the radical dissolution of what might be called the "class mechanism." While this mechanism was operational in the early and mature stages of Western capitalism, it is now so attenuated as to be unimportant. This calls into question not only the validity and utility of Marxist class theory and political eschatology, but also of more general class-analytical frameworks, including what Holton and Turner call "weak" or gesellschaftlich versions of class theory and analysis.4 The debate on relevance of the class concept and class analysis is back on the sociological agenda. At least five journals of international scope and reputation have recently hosted debates on the issue.5 These debates have introduced a body of new evidence and new arguments on the declining political relevance of class and on the increasingly problematic nature of class-based explanations of social inequalities and conflicts. Even such pioneers of class analysis as Lipset and such contemporary sympathizers as Emmison and Western admit to problems and inadequacies that can no longer be glossed over.6 But we must tread carefully for at least three reasons. First, class and class analysis mean different things for different people. In order to avoid addressing scarecrows, we must clearly specify our terms. Second, we must try to muster evidence of changes in key societal structuring mechanisms. Marshall et al. rightly identify the danger of "dualistic thinking" (what we would call "retrospective projection") in which an allegedly "communitarian and solidaristic proletariat of some bygone heyday of class antagonism is set against the atomized and if consumer-oriented working class of today,"'7 we perhaps dispute the contradiction between the words "atomized" and "class." However, because strictly comparable data are not available, we rely on a combination of empirical evidence and rational argument. Third, we are under an obligation to be sensitive to the ideological and moral implications of class analysis. Class belongs to a particularly contentious vocabulary and is anchored in deep ideological commitments and heavy intellectual investments.

669 Four qualifications must therefore be made at the outset. First, we are not claiming that class is an impossible social formation without historical instances. Rather, like Nisbet, we are arguing minimally for the inappropriateness of the concept for analyses of inequalities as well as social divisions and conflict. Second, our argument for the dissolution of class implies neither the end of capitalism, nor the disappearance of social stratification, nor a reduction in social inequality. Social inequalities palpably persist and are even increasing despite class decomposition.8 Emerging "non-class" inequalities are indeed structured, but they need to be assessed in a much more open-minded way than under the limited opportunities offered by class analysis. Third, we are acutely aware that the term class has diverse sociological meanings. The second section of this article therefore teases out some of the semantic problems surrounding the concepts "class"and "class analysis."Fourth, we confine our argument to the so-called advanced industrial societies of Australasia, East Asia, North America, and northwestern Europe. We remain entirely agnostic on whether class formations predominate in other societies, although we suspect that they probably do in some. Despite all possible dangers and pitfalls, we are convinced, however, that the time for presenting an argument on the demise of class is auspicious. Comparative research on social stratification, identity, and conflict have provided new evidence of class decomposition. Current debates about the radical shifts of postmodernization have opened up new agendas and have encouraged the questioning of old orthodoxies. They have re-focused our attention on social change and have raised questions about the validity of established concepts and theoretical metanarratives. These debates have coincided with the collapse of state socialism and its ideological superstructure of orthodox Marxism, and the concomitant end of the cold war, which, in the past, have constrained social scientific debates. These developments make the task of questioning theoretical orthodoxies, including the orthodoxy about class, much easier.

Four propositions in the conceptualization of class Our argument is directed against all claims that advanced societies remain class societies in any other than general historical sense (i.e., the sense that they are different from slave, estate, or caste societies because they are structured by markets), including claims that class analysis is useful in identifying the structure of inequalities, social

670 divisions, and sources of dynamics in such societies. We do so by identifying four propositions that can be abstracted from the literature on class. * The proposition of economism. Class is fundamentally an economic phenomenon. It refers principally to differences in the ownership of property, especially of productive property with an accumulation potential, and to differential market capacity, especially labor-market capacity. Moreover, such economic phenomena as property or markets are held to be the fundamental structuring or organizing principles in societal arrangements. * The proposition of group formation. Classes are more than statistical aggregates or taxonomic categories. They are real features of social structure reflected in observable patterns of inequality, association, and distance. So deep and fundamental are these cleavages that they form the principal and enduring bases for conflict and contestation. * The proposition of causal linkage. Class membership is also causally connected to consciousness, identity, and action outside the arena of economic production. It affects political preferences, lifestyle choices, child-rearing practices, opportunities for physical and mental health, access to educational opportunity, patterns of marriage, occupational inheritance, income, and so on.9 * The proposition of transformative capacity. Classes are potential collective actors in the economic and political fields. Insofar as they consciously struggle against other classes, classes can transform the general set of social arrangements of which they are a part. Class therefore offers the dynamic thrust that energizes society. Classes are the principal collective actors that can make history. Not all of these propositions is embraced by every class approach. Clearly Marxist class theorists, of which perhaps Wright is the best contemporary example,"' embrace all four propositions and would seek to relate all significant social phenomena to class processes. But many defenders of class approaches seek to develop a non-Marxist form of "weak" or gesellschaftlich theory and analysis. For example, Goldthorpe and Marshall, and Hout, Brooks, and Manza distance themselves from the proposition of transformative capacity and concentrate on the propositions of group formation and causal linkage.1' Class analysis, according to them: "has as its central concern the study


of relationships among class structures, class mobility, class-based and inequalities, class-basedaction."'2 However,in orderto distinguish itself from sociological analysisin general,this enterprisemust necessarilyprivilegeeconomicallydefined class over other potentialsources of inequalitiesand division, as well as accept the principle of causal linkage.There would otherwisebe little point in describingthe activity as class analysis- a class analysisthat can find no evidence of class is clearlymisnamed. Our view of the broad historicaltrend that underliesthis development is elaborated elsewhere.13 brief, we argue that while in the early In industrialperiod classes formed as localized "communities fate,"in of the late industrialperiod they reformedinto "quasi-communities" that were nationalin scope and politicallyorganizedby parties,unions,and other class-oriented bodies. The decomposition of these politically organizedand reproducedentitiesmarksthe dissolutionof classes and the end of class society.The principalsocial divisionsin what may be tentatively labelled "postclass society" emerge along lifestyle, consumption,or value lines.'4
Property, labor markets, and industrial action

If Weber can agree with Marx that:"'Property' 'lack of property' and are ... the basic categoriesof all class situations,"'1 then this is where we should begin to examine the question of class divisions in contemporarysociety. Most defenders of Marxistclass theory have long since conceded that the emergence of shareholder corporations towardsthe end of the nineteenthcenturymarkedthe end of the posas sibility of a theory of history based on the owner-capitalist a collective actor. Indeed, the enormous growth of state enterprisein the middle of the twentieth century confirmed this impasse. However, having conceded the separationof ownershipfrom control, Marxist class theory was neverthelessable to claim that they were the same thing,that controlconstitutedpossession,or, in a Weberian translation, that authoritywas independent of economic class and indeed that it could determineit.'6 Under current circumstances,productive property is undergoing a revoludecompositionprocess that extends far beyond the managerial tion. Let us begin at the most simplelevel with the issue of income and wealth, the bald facts about which are impressive. While income

672 inequalities have started widening in recent years after a century-long egalitarian trend, this widening is not along class lines, and does not fix an inter-generationally stable "property-class."'7 Doubtless the emergence of the shareholder corporation and expansion of "petty bourgeois" categories have contributed to this trend, insofar as up to 20 percent of the members of any national adult population have become direct stockholders. However, a far more important contribution is indirect ownership. One of the impressive successes of collective political action by workers has been a progressive redistribution of wealth and income by means of wage disbursements and progressive taxation systems that have increased the general level of disposable and thus investable income. Investments in productive property take place not only through privatization and public share floats, but by means of unit and cash management trusts, superannuation schemes, insurance policies, employee share-ownership plans, and employee buy-outs. The recent acquisition, for example, by its employees, of United Airlines makes the basic class distinction between capital and labor very difficult to make in that instance. A further factor in the redistribution of wealth has been an increase in the level of ownership of non-productive (non-capital) property. For example, Saunders has been influential in identifying the spread and effect of house ownership in Britain, which he treats as a stratifying "means of consumption."'8 About two-thirds of the population now live in family property. Moreover, the value of that property is increasing so that it has become a significant capital asset. Britain might even be the lowest denominator in this regard because in many other societies domestic property can include second or holiday homes, collectibles, and "savings."The significance of such domestic property is that it blurs traditional class divisions, market capacities, and interests. Domestic capital can be inherited, it can provide independence in the face of threats of exploitation, and it can release income and energies to improve one's market situation. This downward redistribution of property has important consequences in relation to class analysis. First, it makes impossible the establishment of any boundary between classes on the basis of property and obviates any struggle about its ownership. Second, property-based classes are no longer the central formations of power in society, these having shifted towards political organizations, elites, and status-conventional categories.

673 In the final analysis, however, property theories of class are founded on an outmoded and modernist conception of the material means of production as productive property. The emerging and critical form of capital is not physical capital but human capital. Just as land was outmoded as the most significant factor of production by the onset of industrial capitalism, so tools and machinery equally may now be becoming less salient. The centrality of cultural capital in Bourdieu's analysis of organizations, of skill/credential assets in Wright's analysis, and of occupational/skill bases of stratification in Goldthorpe's analysis each reflect this shift. Similarly, although they use anachronistic class concepts, Abercrombie and Urry's thesis of the displacement of the capitalist class by the "service class" also confirms it. Its occurrence has been foreshadowed in such diverse formulations as Bell's thesis on post-industrialism, Baudrillard's on the regime of hypersimulation, in Giddens's analysis of trust and reflexivity, and in Lash and Urry's studies of the economy of signification.19Broadly, these argue that the most significant products in a postmodernized world are cultural rather than physical in character, consisting of aesthetic and informatic signs, and that the "capital"that produces them is a dispersed, non-accumulable, and decreasingly heritable human expertise. Indeed, clear evidence is now available from widespread sources that indicates that the development of human or cultural capital is having a decomposing effect on material capital in terms both of the downscaling and restructuring of production enterprises: Steinmetz and Wright report a general increase throughout Western societies in the proportion of self-employees since about 1970; Piore and Sabel and others discuss the dissolution of large-scale textile factories in favor of localized, craft-like firms; Kern and Schumann report the dissolution of the conceptualization-execution distinction in German industry; Hakim, among many others, reports widespread increases in subcontracting and home working, on this occasion in Britain; and Alic and Harris analyze organizational downscaling and reprofessionalization in the American electronics industry.20To the extent that such professional-technical workers neither employ nor are employed, and to the extent that management and labor become indistinguishable we can report a reduction in class differences based on property. This general argument about the declining structuring potential of property is insufficient, however, when applied to gesellschaftlich class analysis, that deemphasizes property and instead theorizes the labor market as an independent source of social stratification.21Classes are

674 defined here as hierarchically organized aggregates of occupations with common working conditions, employment relations, and life-chances. More importantly, they see class membership as relatively fixed and as consequential in determining opportunity (as measured by relative rates of mobility), identity, and as an important propellant of collective action in support of market position. A key indicator of the effect of class membership on life chances is income. At one level, this is a tautology - if class analysis defines classes as groups of occupations with common reward characteristics then income must be part of the definition of class. Even with the benefit of this tautology, however, it can be found wanting. Hout et al. defend it in terms of its capacity to predict income but can only find, on the most optimistic of estimates, that class accounts for 20 percent of the variance in male earnings, using the Wright scheme, or 17 percent, using the Goldthorpe scheme.22 Put another way, such other factors as ethnicity, education, individual competence, and geographical location account for 80+ percent of the variance in male incomes, even where gender differences in income are held constant. Claims about class closure are equally cloudy. Paradoxically, for example, the CASMIN network makes its claims for the existence of a class structure on the basis of the extent of social fluidity rather than, say, social solidity. Such claims are most frequently made, as Saunders points out, in terms of the relative level of closure among social classes, but this measures only exchange mobility and fails to take into account increasing structural mobility.23Total mobility rates offer scant support because they are high and have been increasing with advancing industrialization. Heath shows that in most contemporary societies more than half and sometimes as many as four-fifths of workers in manual occupations come from non-manual worker backgrounds, and that around three-quarters of elites come from sub-elite origins. Equally Erikson and Goldthorpe show that total mobility rates for men in industrial societies are converging at between 60 and 75 percent.24It is a convenient feature of claims for the continuity of the class structure that they exclude from their analyses those elements of restructuring that would deny its continuity. The service class only appears to be closed if you exclude the positions that precisely are giving people who might previously have been excluded by their humble origins an opportunity for improved life-chances. Class analysts themselves are often obliged to admit to "class heterogeneity" or a "low level of demographic identity."25 Similarly, occupational attainment studies

675 reveal growing universalism and declining inheritance. Hout, for example, shows that the effects of origins on occupational destinations declined in the United States by over one-fourth in the 1962-73 decade, and by one-third over the 1972-85 period.26 Exceptions occur at the extremes of the social hierarchy among what Sorokin labels the "hereditary rich" and the "hereditary poor." However, these minority categories do not correspond with classes. Studies of marriage patterns also raise serious doubts about the effectiveness of social class formations. There is a degree of social homogeneity among marriage partners in advanced societies. However, this homogamous pattern does not correspond with class divisions. First, class homogemy is generally weak and variable. Like inheritance, it tends to be highest at the extremes and among farmers. Second, homogemy patterns tend to follow status divisions more closely than class divisions - marriage partners are closest in terms of educational and cultural dimensions. There is considerable evidence of racial, religious, ethnic/national homogamy, as well as some occupational homogemy.27 If one were seeking a further nail for the coffin of class, one would need to look no further than the issue of whether there is a collective expression of class interests, either in terms of social and political reformation or, more prosaically, in terms of a collective effort to influence the market. All the evidence suggests that such collective action is in spectacular decline, especially for what was previously called the working class. Although one may take the view that trade-union organization and industrial action are phenomena of organized power rather than of economic class action that might lead to revolution,28 their growth during the twentieth century might be adduced as evidence of the robustness of the class structure. If so, that must now be called into question. Since 1980, as Western points out, trade-union density has experienced a "near universal and historically novel decline" in all eighteen countries of the OECD. Interestingly, for those arguing that class is a market phenomenon, Western concludes: "The disorganization of workers has ... followed the displacement of the logic of class by the logic of markets."29

676 Class parties and political action It is paradoxical that the first phase of class reshaping coincided with its political and organizational articulation. The dissolution of the economic mechanisms responsible for the formation of classes as localized "communities of fate" coincided with the successful development of trade unions, employer associations, and a growing range of classbased political parties of national scope representing increasingly elaborated ideologies and programs and stressing broadly defined material interests. Between the turn of the century and the end of the post-Second-World-War economic boom, the politics of advanced societies can properly be conceptualized as class politics.3" The political articulation of classes occurred at many levels. Political cleavages were actively organized around material issues and conflicts concerning inequality and national redistribution including wages, working conditions, and welfare rights. The political appeals of the major parties were couched in a class language, and they were addressed to nationally defined classes. Broad class constituencies were formed through these appeals, and they were reproduced through inter-generationally stable partisan loyalties.31 Four aspects of these political developments need to be highlighted. First, they coincided with the formation, strengthening, and bureaucratization of state administrative apparatuses, which internally organized politics into an orderly, bureaucratized (and increasingly democratic) electoral contest involving large representative class-milieu parties.32Second, they coincided with the rise of an increasingly interventionist welfare state that changed the pattern of inequalities and regulated and institutionalized conflict.33 Third, this organization was asymmetrically more conspicuous on the left. Employees' organizations and policies were more highly politically and organizationally articulated than were those of employers or small business owners. Fourth, this political reformulation and institutionalization of class conflict was punctuated by violent and revolutionary events, especially in Central Europe and especially in the first half of the century. The "orderly and democratic form of class struggle" was only partially accepted.34 These four developments were important as determinants of a specific pattern of political organization of classes in Western Europe in the second half of the twentieth century known as corporatism. Here, class politics were organized, democratized, and nationalized into general compacts that helped to secure an unprecedented

677 period of peace, stability, and prosperity. By the end of the Second World War, revolutionary forms of class politics had largely been marginalized in Western Europe.35 By contrast, political developments in the United States were quite different. In America, as Nisbet points out, classes functioned in the context of local status hierarchies, and were identical to status-occupational categories. Class politics was localized and class detection was largely confined to the realm of community studies. Popular visions of the American national power structure were couched in elite rather than class terms. It is not surprising therefore that the earliest diagnoses of "death of class" and the "end of ideology" were formulated in the United States.36 European political-corporatist reorganization prolonged the life of class primarily as nationalized sociopolitical quasi-communities rather than as local socioeconomic "communities of fate," but at the expense of an increasing internal heterogeneity. Class organizations became increasingly massified in their attempt to widen their constituencies and broaden their appeals. The centralized nature of corporatist deals encouraged this massification. As the internal economic heterogeneity of these national class-blocs increased, political divisions were simplified, and organizations became the key determinants of what class meant in popular consciousness and political action. However, our central claim about the political organization of class is that since the 1970s, these politically-organized, nationalized, and mass-ideologically constructed forms of class have also started to decompose. The process of dissolution is universal, but it varies in its scope and intensity. Its main dimensions include: the collapse of corporatist deals; class and partisan dealignment; the emergence of "new politics"; and a global redefinition of interests. We discuss these developments in the remainder of this section. Since the 1970s corporatist arrangements have been unravelling under attacks from both the left and the right. The most widely diagnosed symptom of this political decomposition is class and partisan dealignment. It refers to four parallel processes: a decline in class voting, the fragmentation or electoral collapse of class parties; declining partisanship and inconsistency of voting; and a decline in class-specific appeals by political parties. The Alford Index of party-class voting has declined since the 1960s in all advanced societies for which longitudinal data on

678 voting behavior are available. A key component of this decline is the rapid rise of various "third"and unaligned forces, including single-issue parties and the proliferation of "independents." Another aspect of the dealignment process is declining partisanship, that is, declining trust in, and loyalty to, political parties. This has resulted in declining party allegiance and a collapse of the inter-generational transmission of party loyalties. In response to this shift, the milieu parties have been abandoning class rhetoric. Declining class voting and declining partisan trust open up a cyclical pattern of dealignment. To maintain dwindling electoral support, parties must abandon traditional class issues, alter class appeals, embrace new popular causes, and attract new "nonclass" formations. Consequently, the old class polarization constructed around issues of equality, state welfare, state ownership, and the regulation of wages and working conditions has all but collapsed.37 Perhaps the most damaging development for class analysis is the growing salience of "new politics." New politics embraces a broad spectrum of changes. One element is the changing hierarchy of social values. New post-materialist values involve concerns with the quality of life, selfactualization, and civil liberties. These values, and the issues through which they are articulated, cut across the old political loyalties, and do not fit established class-based ideological cleavages. Other elements of new politics include new social movements and new public concerns. New movements mobilize non-class constituencies and publicize nonclass issues. The relevance of class schemes for the analysis of composition and orientations of such movements is very problematic. The movements are better understood as reflections of generational divisions (e.g., status blocs and "life politics" or as the regeneration of civil society). Such accounts, as many have argued, are incompatible with class accounts.38 Still another aspect of new politics is a shift in political orientation. The class-related left-right polarity does not fit the new cleavages articulated in the new political activism of the left-libertarian/green type.9 Consequently, previously consistent left-right political orientations are becoming occluded. The New Fiscal Populists, for example, embrace liberal-leftist social attitudes, but oppose economic egalitarianism, collectivism, and large welfare spending. These new unaligned and mixed political-ideological syndromes are inconsistent with any notion of class interest, orientation, or issue.40

679 In a peculiar theoretical reversal,the accommodationof these new developments into class schemes often involves the invention of yet another class (a "middle" altogether"new"class) customizedto fit or the new activism or ideological-politicalsyndrome.41 Such class exface numerous problems.A first difficultyapplies in parplanations ticularto "middle-class" imputations: they are problematicbecause of the heterogeneityand vaguenessof the "middle-class" categoryand its alleged interests and orientations.The observationthat new political activismhas a "middle-class base"is as correctas it is trivial.There is no branchof politicalactivism,left, center,or right,"new" "old," or that could not or has not been attributedat some stage to a middle class of one sort or another.If we attribute new politicsto educatedor youthful sectors of the population,this has much more to do with status-educational or generationalcategoriesthan with class. A second and related objectionis that the new class explanations,especiallyof Gouldnerian are from statusaccounts.A "radical intelinspiration, indistinguishable for example,is not a class in any theoreticallyspecific sense, ligentsia" howeverradicaland influential.42 class-actorinterpretations Similarly, of a Tourainean type violate the basic principleof structural-economic determinationand, consequently,bring the class analysis of politics dangerouslyclose to a tautology.Where class is defined as any collective actor-challenger, then any evidence of collective action can confirmclass.Radicalintellectualdissentbecomes the dissentof a "radical intellectualclass"with its "classinterests"appropriately tailoredto fit the attribution. Hindess identifies severalfurtherproblems.43 Classes, to him, cannot act politically or otherwise; this capacity according or belongsto organizations elites whose class linksare inherentlyproblematic. More helpfully,other analyststheorize transversecleavagesthat confirm the breakdownof class referents,interests,and associated ideofor logicalpackages.Inglehart, example,proposes a generational-value basis of "new politics";Turnerlinks new politics with "statusblocs"; while Cohen and Arato see it as a reflectionof "civilsociety."44 The new politicalconcernsthat displacetraditional "classissues"from in Class politics developed public agendasare transnational character. within the context of relativelyautonomousnation-statesand nationally controlled economies. Only in such contexts could the nationalized, institutionalized,and etatized strategies of democratic class struggleswork.Givenprogressiveeconomic and politicalglobalization, such intra-national interestalignmentshave become increasingly prob-

680 lematic. Collective economic interests in a globalized society cease to be fixed along national-class lines and cease to be seen as zero-sum. Broad regional or skill-based categories, rather than nationalized class categories, can become the most salient interest referents. French and German car-production workers may share economic interests with French and German employers (against, say, Japanese producers); skilled workers in Australia may share interests with high-tech Australian producers (against unskilled workers and primary producers). While there is nothing new in such cross-class interest alliances, their political salience has increased dramatically with globalization. In the past, such interest-divisions and alliances could be regarded as secondary relative to primary class divisions but not any longer.

Culture, lifestyle, and ideology In Thompson's classic interpretation,45 classes shared the localized milieux of collective experience and opportunity out of which develop bounded lifestyles and political solidarities. One can recognize in it a familiar view of classes as "races wholly apart'""nations within nations" that are divided not only by material rewards and working conditions, but also by ideals, customs, morals, and patterns of speech.46 Among those against whom we argue, few would claim that this pattern now prevails. Most have accepted that, in the twentieth century, the cultural dimensions of class have changed precisely because capitalist class systems are articulated through the state and large-scale corporations rather than through interpersonal exploitation and exclusion. Just as a configuration of bourgeois and proletarian cultures and of plutocratic and revolutionary ideologies disappeared at the end of the nineteenth century, the configuration of elite vs. mass cultures and of 6tatocentric, metanarrated ideologies is also decomposing. Class ideologies were elaborated within a process of political and ideological articulation at the turn of the century. This involved the promotion of class discourses, the spread of relatively uniform national class identifications, and the creation of large-scale national organizational class actors. In a process analogous to that in which states shaped nations, parties shaped classes. The political appeals of these organizations helped to construct large-scale, sub-national quasi-communities that gradually replaced localized communities of fate, and promoted class identification in national terms. Parties and unions defined class issues and formulated general "packages" of goals and strategies that

681 were used in generating broad electoral support. Supporters of these ideological packages could define themselves in class terms. They were now constituted as social classes not so much by commonalities of working conditions, experiences, and interests as by party-political loyalties and ideological commitments. The metanarrative of socialism (in both its revolutionary and reformist versions) became the "workingclass" ideology, while liberalism (in both its laissez-faire and statelibertarian versions) and conservatism were associated with "bourgeois" classes and parties. While the consistency and elaboration of such ideological packages increased, their penetration of popular outlooks, creeds, and world-views decreased.47 They became differentiated political formulae rather than aspects of class subcultures. This "Fordist" politics and its ideological "superstructure" have declined. Our first claim is that professional and managerial occupations (the "service class") no longer maintain a coherent and exclusive set of cultural and ideological practices. The key development is the emergence of a postmodernist culture48that denies the possibility of authoritative opinions and of absolute standards of taste, and mixes aesthetics from diverse origins. It was promoted, argues Lash, precisely by an emerging "yuppie" status group that sought to delegitimize elite pretensions to continued control over aesthetic standards and thus over cultural capital and class reproduction. In effect, this move elevated elements of popular culture to artistic status and simultaneously widened the audience for items previously reserved for refined tastes. Equally persons in low-reward occupations have moved into a non-exclusive cultural complex that is shared with all other members of society. For most manual workers, social participation and identity now centers on access to a range of consumption items including home ownership, privatized transportation, electronically-mediated mass entertainment, exotic vacations, technologized leisure equipment, high-quality health care, superannuation, educational opportunities for children, and so on. Traditional working-class commitments to collective social reform were critically disrupted by the emergence of adolescent subcultures in the 1960s, organized around popular music and oriented to hedonism rather than social reform.49 This generational cleavage overwhelmed working-class commitments to the collective representation of interests and left it without recruits. The emerging configuration centers on consumption and lifestyle rather than production as the key sources of identity. Consumption becomes the main form of self-expression and the chief source of

682 identity. An advanced or postmodernized consumer culture experiences hypercommodification in which minute differences between products, or minute improvements in them, can determine variations in demand, and in which consumption is differentiated on the basis of the signifiers known as "brand names." This tendency is captured in such terms as "taste,""fashion," and "lifestyle" that become key sources of social differentiation and affiliation, thus displacing the old identity packages, such as class. Bourgeois domination might have been legitimated by its claim to have special knowledge of cultural standards in art, morality, and justice, but in a consumer culture these standards merely become some of a range of opinions that can be accepted or rejected at will. Indeed, the delegitimation of such standards has meant a more widespread and popular dissemination of what previously would have been regarded as high or elite cultural products. Correspondingly, class identification is weakening. Certainly respondents know the meaning of class terminology and, if prompted in survey questionnaires, will identify with vaguely-specified class labels. However, without prompts, they will now seldom identify with and describe themselves in class terms. On the basis of a unique piece of research that avoided prompts, Emmison and Western show that the salience of class identification in Australia, a society with traditionally strong class identification, is extremely low, well below a whole range of other identity sources, including gender, religion, ethnicity, age, and support for a sports team. They conclude that "the discursive salience of class for identity is almost minimal."50 Thus, the nexus among economic position, personal identification, political attitudes, and political activism has been weakened.51 While class identities are dwindling, salient political identities are being formed around such highly publicized and politically prominent issues as ethnicity, migration, gender, civil rights, environment, and nuclear energy. These identities are displacing the old class identities as "generators of political action," at least among the young and educated urbanites. As a consequence, class discourse is no longer prominent and popular. Class language has also been abandoned by political parties, unions, associations, social movements, and academics, especially on the left.5

683 Conclusions:The dilemmasof class analysis In assessingthe viabilityand utilityof class analysis,we returnto interrogatethe four centralpropositionswithwhichwe began: * Economic production, property ownership, and participationin nationallabormarketscannotbe seen as the key determinants social of structure individuallife chances. and * They key groupings of contemporary society form on non-economic, non-class bases of ethnicity,gender, value-commitment,lifestyle,and consumption. * Classes do not form the bases and key referents for identities, ideologies, social divisions,and politicalactivism.Nor indeed are they adequatepredictorsof income, lifestyle, and access to health, education, and other social resources. * Patternsof changein contemporarysocieties are not determinedby class competition,muchless by class struggles. In the analysis of sociohistorical shifts that we have outlined, class analysisis providingrapidly diminishingintellectualreturns.Neither emerging patterns of stratification (e.g., the declining position of unskilled workers,the emergence of "genderized" and "age-specific" the formationof powerfulmass-media-basedelites, etc.) inequalities, nor important cleavages and conflicts (e.g., around the issues of feminism, minority rights, migration, the natural environment, or nuclearpower)can be explicatedin class terms.The weaknessof class analysisis even more apparentwhen appliedto studiesof international issues and conflicts (e.g., the European Union, the Middle East, the Bosnia-Hercegovina, ex-Soviet world, or South Africa). The procrustean quality of such analyses must be obvious even to scholars sympathetic to Marxism. Arguably the most significant social and political transformationsof the century - the rise and collapse of fascism,the successfulcivil rightsand eco-pax campaigns,the collapse of Soviet communismand the dismantlingof apartheid- have very little to do with class and do not lend themselvesto class explanations. The recentrecordof class analysisthen,its ineffectiveness explaining in the dynamicsof contemporarysociety,is far from proud.If popularity is taken as a measureof its success, the recordis damning.No current social-sciencebest-sellerhas adopted the class-analytic paradigm,and
many specifically reject it.53

684 Defenders of class, such as Wright, Goldthorpe, Marshall, and Hout, face three dilemmas. First, there is the dilemma of identity: the more successful the adjustments they make between class schemes and social developments, the less distinguishable the adjusted class schemes become from their main competitors, especially status-attainment models and human-capital theory. Class analysis can only gain credibility by giving up its identity and by converging with non-class interpretive schemes, so that we are left with a "class theory" that imitates its competitors in all but name. Second, there is a dilemma of theoretical relevance. The more successful the adjustments of untenable assumptions and claims of class theory, especially those concerning social conflicts and historical change, the less relevant it becomes. Class theory in its gesellschaftlich version turns increasingly into a footnote, a datum hardly worth knowing. Third, there is a dilemma of ideological and political relevance. The more thorough and successful are the correctives proposed by contemporary defenders of class, especially proponents of its "weak"versions, the more sober and sombre and therefore less ideologically attractive are its theoretical proposals. Less and less is left of class theory's original seductive emancipatory promise. Its ideological pretensions and its radicalism have faded and with them have also faded a large part of its attractiveness and appeal. One would look rather silly mounting a barricade armed with Wright's twelve-class scheme. Radical critics of society, who in the past embraced class imagery for its fiery and prophetic quality will find these revisionist schemes disenchanting. Many of them will turn for both moral consolation and ideological zeal to competitors, especially to post-Marxist theories of civil society. In the past, class analysis was a paragon of "progressivism."A commitment to class analysis was associated with a pro-reformist stance. This association is weakening, and the very notion of progressivism that class analysis implies has become increasingly problematic.54 Class analysis deemphasizes gender and racial inequality, understates the exploitative character of authority relations by denying their autonomy, and glosses over the increasingly salient cleavages underlying the libertarian new politics. The best of these analyses are becoming irrelevant; the worst forms are misleading.

Acknowledgments This article is an outcome of the "Impact of Class" project being carried out by the authors at the University of Tasmania in conjunction

with Gary Marks of the Australian National University. We have bombarded our colleagues with our ideas on the matter so frequently that their tolerance must be stretched very severely. An earlier version was delivered by Waters in Symposium IV The Polity and Dynamics of Civil Society (convenor: Alain Touraine) at the XIIIth World Congress of Sociology, Bielefeld, Germany, 1994. The "Impact of Class" project is supported by a research grant from the University of Tasmania and a Visiting Fellowship (held by Waters) in the Reshaping Australian Institutions research program at the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University. Notes
1. R. Nisbet, "The Decline and Fall of Social Class," (Pacific Sociological Review 2/1 (1959): 11. 2. In the early 1960s, Westergaard bewailed the prevailing "myth" of classlessness in sociology. By 1971, he was able to write a relieved but suspicious postscript that expressed the view that: "The notion that class is withering away is not dead; but it has been losing its status as a self-evident truth." More recently, Crouch and Pissorno edited a volume that claimed that class conflict was on the rise but, following Westergaard, they reduced the rise of feminism, educational protest, and anti-war movements to reflections of "class conflicts." We regard these political conflicts as the death throes of class-political action and not their heyday. See J. Westergaard, "Sociology: the myth of classlessness," in R. Blackburn, editor, Ideology in Social Science (Glasgow: Collins, 1972); C. Crouch and A. Pissorno, editors, The Resurgence of Class Conflict in Western Europe since 1968 (London: Macmillan, 1978). 3. The key figure at the University of Wisconsin is Erik Olin Wright. For reports on his theoretical work and associated empirical studies, see E. Wright, Class, Crisis, and the State (London: New Left, 1978), Classes (London: Verso, 1985), editor, The Debate on Classes (London: Verso, 1989); E. Wright and B. Martin, "The Transformation of the American Class Structure 1960-1980" American Journal of Sociology 93 (1987): 1-29; E. Wright and M. Western, "The Permeability of Class Boundaries to Intergenerational Mobility Among Men in the United States, Canada, Norway and Sweden" American Sociological Review 59 (1994): 606-629; G. Marshall, H. Newby, D. Rose, and C. Vogler, Social Class in Modern Britain (London: Hutchinson, 1988); J. Baxter, M. Emmison, J. Western, and M. Western, editors, Class Analysis and Contemporary Australia (South Melbourne, Macmillan, 1991). The central figure at Oxford is John H. Goldthorpe, who is also co-director of the CASMIN (Comparative Analysis of Social Mobility in Industrial Nations) project headquartered at the University of Mannheim, and who frequently coauthors with Robert Erikson of Stockholm University. The key publications are J. Goldthorpe (with others), Social Mobility and Class Structure in Modern Britain (2nd edition, Oxford, Clarendon, 1987); J. Goldthorpe and K. Hope, The Social Grading of Occupations (Oxford, Clarendon, 1974); R. Erikson and J. Goldthorpe, The Constant Flux (Oxford, Clarendon, 1992); R. Erikson, J. Goldthorpe, and L. Portacarero, "Intergenerational Class Mobility in Three Western European Soci-

eties," British Journal of Sociology 33 (1979): 1-34. For studies in a similar vein on Australia and the United States respectively, see F. Jones and P. Davis, Models of Society (Sydney, Croom Helm, 1986); M. Hout, "More Universalism, Less Structural Mobility," American Journal of Sociology 93 (1988): 1358-1400. R. Holton and B. Turner, "Debate and pseudo-debate in class analysis: Some unpromising aspects of Goldthorpe and Marshall's defence," Sociology 28/3 (1994): 799-804. American Sociological Review 58/1; British Journal of Sociology 44/2, 3; International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 15/1; International Sociology 8/3, 9/2-3; Sociology 24/2, 26/2-3, 28/2-4. T. Clark, S. Lipset, and M. Rempel, "The Declining Political Significance of Social Class," International Sociology 8/3 (1993): 279-293; R. Crompton, Class and Stratification (Cambridge: Polity, 1993); T. Clark and S. Lipset, "Are Social Classes Dying?" International Sociology 6/4 (1991): 397-410; M. Emmison and M. Western, "Social Class and Social Identity: A Comment on Marshall et al.," Sociology 24/2 (1990): 241-253. Marshall et al., Social Class, 206. While many internal inequalities, especially income inequalities, are increasing with economic globalization (e.g., wage differentials have widened in most OECD countries in the 1980s and 1990s), international inequalities of income, especially the gap between developed and developing societies, might now be closing due to much higher rates of growth in the latter (Economist 2/4/94). This causal connection is the principal legitimizing claim for the continuing saliency of class analysis. Note, however, that Wright and some of his followers stress the contingency of class formation and the autonomy of politics. See Wright, Classes; M. Western, "Class Structure and Demographic Class Formation," in Baxter et al., editors, Class Analysis, 166-201. J. Goldthorpe and G. Marshall, "The Promising Future of Class Analysis: A Response to Recent Critiques," Sociology 26/3 (1992): 381-400; M. Hout, C. Brooks, and J. Manza, "The Persistence of Classes in Post-Industrial Societies," International Sociology 8/3 (1993): 259-278. Goldthorpe and Marshall, "Promising Future," 382. S. Crook, J. Pakulski, and M. Waters, Postmodernization: Change in Advanced Society (London: Sage, 1992); J. Pakulski and M. Waters, Thle Death of Class (London: Sage, 1996); M. Waters, "Succession in the Stratification System: A Contribution to the 'Death of Class' Debate," International Sociology 9/3 (1994): 295312. These developments are also identified, among others, by J. Baudrillard, Selected Writings(Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988); D. Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989); and S. Lash and J. Urry, Economies of Signs and Space (London: Sage, 1994). M. Weber, Economy and Society (Berkeley: California University Press, 1978), 927. For the former, see N. Poulantzas, "On Social Classes," in A. Giddens and D. Held, editors, Classes Power and Conflict (Berkeley: California University Press, 1982); and Wright Classes. For the latter, see R. Dahrendorf, Class and Class Conflict in Industrial Society (London: Routledge, 1959). Income differentials follow skill levels and industrial-sector lines and, if anything, are detached from occupational/class positions; see J. Myles and A. Turegun,




7. 8.

9. 10.


12. 13.


15. 16.


"Comparative studies in class structure," Annual Review of Sociology 20 (1994): 103-124. Even as convinced a Marxist as Miliband tells us that in Britain, "the share of wealth owned by the richest 10 per cent of the population ... appears to have declined in the last fifty years," a finding that appears to hold whether one calculates at the one, five, ten, or twenty percent levels. R. Miliband, Divided Societies (Oxford: Clarendon, 1989), 54-55. This picture of wealth deconcentration is confirmed by Wolff, who shows that during the twentieth century the share of wealth owned by small upper quantiles has declined markedly in Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. For example: the share owned by the top 1 percent in the United States declined from over 30 percent in 1920 to under 20 percent in 1980; and the share owned by the top 5 percent in Sweden fell from over 80 percent to under 50 percent over the same period. See E. Wolff, International Comparisons of the Distribution of Household Wealth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987). Observers should not be deceived by short-term rises, because the historical trend is clear and universal. P. Saunders, A Nation of Home Owners (London: Unwin Hyman, 1990). P. Bourdieu, Distinction (London: Routledge, 1984); Wright Classes; J. Goldthorpe, "On the Service Class, Its Formation and Future" in A. Giddens, editor, Social Class and the Division of Labour (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982); N. Abercrombie and J. Urry, Capital, Labour and the Middle Classes (London: Allen & Unwin, 1983); D. Bell, The Coming of Post-Industrial Society (New York: Basic, 1973); Baudrillard, Selected Writings;A. Giddens, Modernity and Self-Identity (Cambridge: Polity, 1991); Lash and Urry, Economies. G. Steinmetz and E. Wright, "The fall and rise of the Petty Bourgeoisie," American Journal of Sociology 94/5 (1989): 973-1018; M. Piore and P. Sabel, The Second Industrial Divide (New York: Basic, 1984); H. Kern and M. Schumann, "Limits of the Division of Labour," Economic and Industrial Democracy 8 (1987): 151-171; C. Hakim, "Self-employment in Britain," Work Employment and Society 2/4 (1988): 421-450; C. Hakim, "Homeworking in Britain," and J. Alic and M. Harris, "Employment lessons from the US Electronics Industry" both in R. Pahl, editor, On Work (Oxford: Blackwell, 1988): 609-632,670-683. E.g., Goldthorpe and Marshall, "Promising Future." Hout et al., "Persistence of Classes," 263. Saunders, Nation of Home Owners. A. Heath, Social Mobility (London: Fontana, 1981); Erikson and Goldthorpe, Constant Flux, 74, 190. Goldthorpe, Social Mobility, 332, 336, 337; Western, "Class Structure," 199-200. Hout, "More Universalism." A. Tyree and J. Treas, "The Occupational and Marital Mobility of Women," American Sociological Review 39/1 (1974): 293-302; R. Rockwell, "Historical Trends and Variations in Educational Homogamy," Journal of Marriage and the Family 38/1 (1976): 83-94; F. Jones and P. Davis, "Closure and Fluidity in the Class Structure," Australian and New Zealand Journal of Sociology 24/2 (1988): 226247. For confirmation, see D. Hibbs, "On the Political Economy of Long-run Trends in Strike Activity," British Journal of Political Science 8 (1978): 153-175. B. Western, "Union Decline in Eighteen Advanced Western Countries," American Sociological Review 60/2 (1995): 197. Also see J. Visser, "Trends in Trade Union Membership," OECD Employment Outlook (Sept 1991): 197-234, and the con-


18. 19.


21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27.

28. 29.

tributions to M. Golden and J. Pontusson, editors, Bargaining for Change (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992) and M. Regini, editor, The Future of Labour Movements (London: Sage, 1992). S. Lipset, Political Man (New York: Doubleday, 1959; 2nd edn, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981). Such other cleavages as religious, regional, ethnic, and gender ones and their associated rhetorics were, with few notable exceptions, either subsumed within class issues or were squeezed out of the predominant partisan configuration (see Lipset, Political Man). External competition for economic and political advantage was far less orderly, involving a quasi-mercantilist protection of national interests. The emergent form of the democratic welfare state was the result of these two processes: internal organization and bureaucratization; and external contest and protection of national interests. Welfare provision was both the result of the internal class struggle, i.e., of organized political pressure exerted mainly by workers' political organizations, and a means of securing mass loyalty in the face of international military conflict. See G. Esping-Anderson, Three Worldsof WelfareCapitalism (Cambridge: Polity, 1990). For analyses of the impact of the welfare state on class divisions and conflicts, see S. Bowles and H. Gintis, Democracy and Capitalism (New York: Basic, 1987); R. Dahrendorf, The Modern Social Conflict (London: Weidenfeld, 1988); C. Offe, Disorganised Capitalism (Cambridge: Polity, 1987). The European fascist parties stressed common national interests, virulently opposed liberal democracy (as well as communism) and promoted an anti-liberal, non-class form of national corporatism. It must also be added that the Russian Revolution, and the formation of the expansive Soviet state, created a new and increasingly central political-ideological division between East and West that gradually reinforced politically constructed class divisions. P. Schmitter and G. Lembruch, editors, Trends Towards Corporatist Inter-Mediation (London: Sage, 1979); G. Lehmbruch and P. Schmitter, editors, Patterns of Corporatist Policy-Making (London: Sage, 1982); Crook et al., Postmodernization, ch. 3. C. Mills, The Power Elite (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956); D. Bell, The End of Ideology (New York: Free Press, 1960). For example, B. Saarlvik, and I. Crewe, Decade of Dealignment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983); I. Crewe and D. Denver, editors, Electoral Change in Western Democracies: Patterns and Sources of Electoral Volatility (London: Croom Helm, 1985); Clark et al., "Declining Political Significance." Those critical of the Index can find other evidence of the decline in class voting in M. Franklin et al., Electoral Change: Responses to Evolving Social and Attitudinal Structures in Western Countries (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), which uses standard regression analysis. Marshall et al.'s objections to the interpretation of this universal trend can hardly be seen as relevant to our argument. They admit that the major class party in Britain has been losing electoral support, but add that this loss of support is happening "across the board," i.e., among all classes and socioeconomic categories. See Marshall et al., Social Class. The decline of partisanship has been analyzed by J. Blondel, Political Parties: A Genuine Case for Discontent (London: Wildwood, 1978). On the movement away from class appeals, see S. Lipset, "No Third Way: A Comparative Perspective on the Left," in D. Chirot, editor, The Crisis of Leninism and the Decline of the Left (London: University of Washington Press, 1991). It is more pronounced on the left, espe-

30. 31.





36. 37.

cially following the collapse of communism, after which party names, agendas, programs, and ideologies have been changing with unprecedented speed. The new value thesis is formulated by R. Inglehart, The Silent Revolution: Changing Values and Political Styles among Western Publics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977); "Values Ideology and Cognitive Mobilization in New Social Movements," in R. Dalton and M. Kuechler, editors, Challenging the Political Order: New Social and Political Movements in Western Democracies (Cambridge: Polity, 1990), 43-66. For analyses of "new politics," see C. Offe, "New Social Movements: Challenging the Boundaries of Institutional Politics," Social Research 52/4 (1985): 817-868; R. Dalton, Citizen Politics in Western Democracies (Chatham: Chatham Publishers, 1988); J. Gibbins, "Contemporary Political Culture: An Introduction," in J. Gibbins, editor, Contemporary Political Culture (London: Sage, 1989), 1-30. Attempts to construct "new class" schemes capable of containing these aspects of new politics are unconvincing and ad hoc. For example, R. Eckersley, "Green Politics and the New Class," Political Studies 37/2 (1989): 205-223; K. Eder, The New Politics of Class (London: Sage, 1993). They are arbitrary in tailoring a "new class" to fit the new concerns and ignore the evidence on social heterogeneity of the new issue supporters. For criticism see J. Pakulski, "Mass Social Movements and Social Class," International Sociology 8/2 (1993): 131-158. A generational account is suggested by R. Inglehart, "The Changing Structure of Industrial Cleavages in Western Societies," in R. Dalton, S. Flanagan, and P. Beck, editors, Electoral Change in Advanced Industrial Democracies (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984): 25-69; R. Inglehart, Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Society (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990); R. Inglehart and S. Flanagan "Value Change in Industrial Societies," American Political Science Review 81/4 (1989): 1289-1319; and P. Abramson and R. Inglehart, "Generational Replacement and Value Change in Eight West European Societies," (British Journal of Political Science 22/2 (1992): 183-228. Status and "life politics" accounts are advanced by B. Turner, Status (Milton Keynes: Open University, 1988), and by Giddens, Modernity and Self-Identity. Civil society accounts are promoted in J. Cohen, "Strategy or Identity," Social Research 52 (1985): 872-895, and J. Cohen and A. Arato, Civil Society and Political Theory (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1992). Offe, "New Social Movements"; H. Kitchelt, The Transformation of European Social Democracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994); T. Poguntke, Alternative Politics: The German Green Party (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1993); Dalton et al., "The Challenge of New Movements," in Dalton and Kuechler, Challenging the Political Order. The new Fiscal Populism is analysed by T. Clark and L. Ferguson, City Money (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983). Unaligned issues primarily include green, anti-nuclear, feminist, and civil-libertarian concerns. One of the key issues in Britain is the European Union. It has become the key political issue in current political debates. The meaning of the term "new class" varies widely. See S. Brint, "New Class' and Cumulative Trend Explanations in the Liberal Political Attitudes of Professionals," American Journal of Sociology 90/1 (1984): 30-71; I. Szelenyi and B. Martin, "The Three Waves of New Class Theories," Theory and Society 17/5 (1988): 645-667. So do the origins of the three main streams of new class theorizing; the anarchist stream, which points to the dangers of a new state-controlling "intellectual class"; the technocratic-bureaucratic stream, popularized in the 1930-1950s and identifying the new class with managerial positions; and the "knowledge class" stream of





the 1970s and 1980s, locating the new class among scientists, technocrats, and intellectuals. The East European new class theorists have been strongly influenced by G. Konrad and L. Szelenyi, Intellectuals on the Road to Class Power (Brighton: Harvester, 1979). Western analysts are inspired by A. Gouldner, The Future of Intellectuals and the Rise of New Class (New York: Seabury, 1979) depicting the "new class" as challengers to the social order. A Gouldnerian perspective has been adopted by many European and Australian students of new politics. This confusion is quite common. See Eckersley, "Green Politics"; C. Rootes, 'A New Class? Higher Education and the New Politics," mimeo, University of Kent at Canterbury. Status accounts of politics are as convincing as they are established. For Weber, politics was always "status group politics" rather than "class politics." B. Hindess, Politics and Class Analysis (Oxford: Blackwell, 1987). We discuss alternative accounts in detail elsewhere. See Pakulski, "Mass Social Movements." E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968). "The workers speak other dialects, have other thoughts and ideals, other customs and moral principles, a different religion and other politics than those of the bourgeoisie. Thus they are two radically dissimilar nations...." F. Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 (London: Hamden, 1892), 124. Archetypal local class communities of fate, sharing distinct class cultures and strong class-based identifications, did survive in smaller urban enclaves and industrial mining towns, around shipbuilding centres, and large metal works and railways. They have been declining with these enclaves. For a contemporary Marxist account along these lines, see R. Connell and T. Irving, Class Structure in Australian History (2nd edition) (Melbourne: Longman, 1992). The best-known versions of this class-partisan alignment thesis can be found in Lipset, Political Man, and F. Parkin, Class Inequality and Political Order (London: Granada, 1972). Both place the issues of inequality and state redistribution at the center of "class politics." Lipset adds that smaller and less consistent ideological packages were developed for "agrarian classes," as well as sections of the population mobilized by non-class commitments (religious, regional, ethnic, etc.). The limits to ideological penetration are revealed by N. Abercrombie, S. Hill, and B. Turner in The Dominant Ideology Thesis (London: Allen & Unwin, 1980). S. Lash, The Sociology of Postmodernity (London: Routledge, 1990): 18-25; Crook et al., Postmodernization, ch. 2. Lash, Postmodernity, 26. Emmison and Western, "Social Class and Social Identity," 241. B. Graetz's studies of the relations among inequalities, images of attitudes, and political activism in Australia reveal considerable disparity among them. He concludes: that popular beliefs are seldom dissensual in the way the class models would suggest; that beliefs about inequality and political opinions depend primarily on political orientations (rather than socioeconomic attributes) and cut across class and status divisions; and that such beliefs and opinions: "exert no more than a marginal impact upon the propensity for political action." See, "Images of Class in Modern Society," Sociology 17/1 (1983): 79-96; "Social Structure and Class Consciousness," A lustralianand New Zealand Journal of Sociology 22/1 (1986): 46-64; "Inequality and Political Activism in Australia," Research in Inequality and Social Conflict 2 (1992): 57-77. A survey of socialist parties by Lipset shows a "consistent abandonment of social


43. 44. 45. 46.


48. 49. 50. 51.


welfare state/distributive issues" and traditional socialist strategies. Lipset charts the beginning of this process in the early to mid-1960s. The British Labour Party has been moving away from class rhetoric under a "modernizing" leadership since the early 1980s, as have the French socialists and the Italian socialists and communists since 1990. This is partly in response to the collapse of Soviet communism, and partly due to the decomposition of class-based electoral support. Lipset and Kitchelt find a general global shift in the electoral positions of socialist/social democratic parties away from the old class repertoires and rhetorics. See Lipset, "No Third Way"; Kitchelt, Transformation of European Social Democracy. Kitchelt suggests that a similar shift may be under way on the right of the political spectrum. 53. E.g., U. Beck, Risk Society (London: Sage, 1992); Crook et al., Postmodernization; Giddens, Modernity and Self-Identity; G. Morgan, Images of Organization (London: Sage, 1989); R. Shields, Places on the Margin (London: Routledge, 1991). 54. "Social reform" means different things today compared with a generation ago. It is associated with marketization and the extension of civil liberties, directions that have been either opposed or ignored by most class-oriented organizations. The old "radical"class organizations, especially trade unions, have become conservative in their defense of the old issue-repertoires and the corporatist status quo. The current detachment of class from progressivism is a predominantly West European development. The association has always been problematic in the United States where radicalism and progressivism have traditionally been glossed in a non-class language (e.g., analyses of power elites, critical studies of race and ethnic relations).