A discussion about class

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the button's picture
the button
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Jun 23 2005 15:27

And do you think that the micro/macro distinction maps neatly onto the distinction between culture & the socio-economic?

So there are no macro-cultural phenomena & no micro-socio-economic phenomena? neutral

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oisleep
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Jun 23 2005 15:59

what an earth are you all talking about, if you want to talk in french do it elsewhere angry angry

note: apologies for cross board "jokes"

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Steven.
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Jun 23 2005 16:57
the button wrote:
And do you think that the micro/macro distinction maps neatly onto the distinction between culture & the socio-economic?

So there are no macro-cultural phenomena & no micro-socio-economic phenomena? neutral

I never said that at all!

We're saying there's the separation between "macro socio-economic and the micro cultural", i.e. "economics not accent (non-regional vs cockney/Northern) or taste in lunches (pie + mash vs. rocket salad)".

You're trying to make this way too complicated...

Mike Harman
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Jun 23 2005 17:23

the button, do you mean that just as economic class cuts across accent/taste in food, social class cuts across economic class (two posh people might get on better even if one's got £60k debts/bankrupt and the owns half of Sussex)?

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the button
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Jun 24 2005 08:30
John. wrote:
You're trying to make this way too complicated...

Nah, you're trying to make it way too simple. wink

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the button
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Jun 24 2005 08:45
Catch wrote:
the button, do you mean that just as economic class cuts across accent/taste in food, social class cuts across economic class (two posh people might get on better even if one's got £60k debts/bankrupt and the owns half of Sussex)?

That's not what I'm getting at, although the example you give is a valid one.

But see the knots that folk are getting themselves into. Sometimes it's a distinction between social and economic that's being made. Other times it's a distinction between the socio-economic & the cultural.

I suppose what it boils down to is what we mean when we say, "It's class." (To coin a phrase). Now, as far as I'm concerned, when we say "It's class," we mean "It's class in the sense of position within the means of production," or similar.

This, if you like, is our analytics of class. However, & for all the bitching about sociology there is on here, I still think there needs to be a descriptive moment in there somewhere, i.e., what is class in terms of it's signification, in terms of the role that the notion plays in the cultural register?

And hopefully, not one that deploys the ideology thesis too quickly, and simply (and simplistically) says, "Class understood in terms of position in the MOP is the one true way of understanding class; everything else is just The Man trying to put one over on the workers." The further away we get from the idea of capital as a conspiracy, the better.

More bollocks from the button later.......... wink

In fact, more bollocks now. If we work with John.'s distinction between the socio-economic & the cultural, where do we locate troublesome notions such as race & gender? The IWA's "Principles of revolutionary unionism" state that all forms of oppression have an "economic aspect," but that doesn't mean they're reducable to economics.

Fuck that was a long post. 'Cause my boss is on holiday. 8)

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Jun 25 2005 10:07

Hi

the button, You’re right to seek a satisfying theory of class that unifies the role of social group, economic status and cultural phenomena.

I’m not sure if the task you’ve set yourself is possible without compromising your requirement to avoid the early deployment of an ideological thesis (as you so eloquently put it).

I propose that the weakness of prevailing class analysis, as illustrated by the continuing unacceptably slow progress of the revolutionary project, is a consequence of placing it at the root from which ideology develops.

To develop the class theory you want, and it is a honourable aspiration, you must first set out a revolutionary programme. Such a programme enables the identification of the social forces allied, indifferent and hostile to your cause.

I’m thinking that culture plays the role of an information system that enables us to make fuzzy estimates of class. I’d suggest that evolutionary psychology makes middle class accents annoying.

You’re spot on in your suspicions regarding the use of classical relations to the MOP. Although it’s not an ideal illustration of the point, I am reminded of the implications of earlier discussions on the restructuring of global capital.

http://www.libcom.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=5113

As well as my “nutty” class analysis, I’ve got an equally mental proposal for a programme. But seeing as my last emission put people off posting for days, I think it’s best if I leave it there for now.

Anyway, peace and love etc.

Chris

gentle revolutionary
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Jul 10 2005 11:47

See sections on "class", "class consciousness", "middle class" etc. in A Dictionary of Marxist Thought (ed. Tom Bottomore, Blackwell, 1991) as well as:

Nicos Poulantzas, Classes in Contemporary Capitalism, 1974.

Martin Nicolaus, Proletariat and Middle Class in Marx, 1967.

Serge Mallet, New Working Class, 1975 -"new social movements" current

Harry Braverman, Labor and Monopoly Capital, 1974 - "famous", especially interesting - on deskilling, proletarianization of the middle class & mechanization of office work

Nicholas Abercombie & John Urry,Capital, Labour and the Middle Classes, 1983.

Erik Olin Wright, Class, Crisis and the State, 1978

-II- Classes

(this guy also has a high reputation)

Karl Renner, The Service Class, 1953 (1978)

Tom Bottomore, Classes in Modern Society, 2nd edition, 1991.

Personally, my priority are books about workplace & community organising, civil disobedience etc.

Also see International Socialism, Spring 2005 (The Changing Economy, The Shape of the Working Class)...very interesting.

Comradely,

Dan circle A red n black star red star