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April 20, 2006


Luis Enrique

"If you need to work for a living, and your employment depends upon the decision of a boss, you are working class."

Man, that's a relief. I thought I was middle class, and everybody hates the middle class, most of all the middle class themselves. So, me and all my organic food munching public school educated handsomely salaried chums are working class? Sorted. Salt of the earth.


Where do you fit the middle class in? Who's in that box?

We're confused by that over on ET...


Middle class in the economic sense corresponds to what Erik Olin Wright called a contradictory class location, someone with a foot in both camps. This encompasses some lower level bosses or workers who could, at a pinch, afford to retire and so are not wholly dependent upon wages. This includes many City folk and (almost) me.
"Middle class" in the cultural sense means "ponce."

Luis Enrique

watch it pal or some of my middle class pals will duff you up

NB your defition is crazy talk, ain't no way I could afford to retire at any sort of pinch, but ain't no way that I'm anything other than a big fat middle class captialist running dog smug etc. etc. pour-out-your-hatred-here swine.

Charlie Whitaker

Well yes, a lot of people are delusional - sorry, optimistic.

There's more than one dynamic at work here, though, surely. What do you make of Commonwealth citizens on working holiday visas? Working class? They certainly make up a good part of the labour force in my company, and they're all self-employed. And just when you think they're susceptible to exploitation, they take off for a six month holiday somewhere. No one would call them rich, but they do exercise choice.

And then there are professionals / consultants in general. Barristers are all technically self-employed. Many doctors can be if they wish, or they can at least do a proportion of their work for private clients. Most professionals can choose between being their own boss or taking a salary: it's a judgement they'll make after taking into account the merits of each situation.

Are illegal immigrant workers working class? I suspect they couldn't join a union even if they wished to.

I certainly don't mean to paint a rosy picture - if wealth inequality is high, then exploitation will surely tend to match - but there's arguably more complexity in the world's labour market than there once was.


I think class consciousness is a haggard, dated notion from years ago when the ascendency of one class or another was taken to be the curtain call for class divisions or distinctions altogether,

I've been to places where people on middle class income scales or professionals insist they are "still working class", why is the prestige associated with any single class when we are meant to be aiming for a classless society?

I would think it is more socialistic to have no class consciousness, to be a true individual instead of a product of your background, status, neighbourhood etc.


The very enriching experience of (class consciousness) happens i suspect, long before a person hears of it or reads of it. It happens during those "states" of honesty-when parental and institutional advice is ignored. It happens when one ignores the childish impulse of self interest. To me, it happens in stages, it takes awhile to undo the propoganda, what whith a brutal mortgage to pay and mouths to feed, not much time for honest reflection, Im 50 and still fighting the effects-Yeah!!!! it takes that long!! Oh well,lets take avantage of the increase in life expectancy, there is more of a chance that the busy illusion will fade and we will "get it", class consciousness that is?.

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