Talk:Social class

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Mesoderm's edit[edit]

I usually view large, rapid edits with alarm, but Mesoderm's edit seems to correct many flaws in the article and to be even-handed. I've made a few changes, most involving typos. Rick Norwood (talk) 14:19, 26 January 2012 (UTC)

Are the upper class really called the bourgeoisie. I have always heard that word applied to the middle class, or sometimes to the upper middle class. Here is the Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, "bourgeoisie, name given in Europe to the middle class." Websters: "of, relating to, or characteristic of the townsman or of the social middle class". Merriam-Webster: "bourgeois, citizen of a town, a middle-class person." I would just change it, but I'm not sure what to replace it with, using Marxist terminology. "aristocracy"? Rick Norwood (talk) 13:17, 27 January 2012 (UTC)

I'm glad you asked this question as I think that Marxist usage differs somewhat from common English usage and that is potentially confusing. According to our article Bourgeoisie, the term in, pre-revolutionary France, referred to the wealthier members of the third estate (the nobility being the second estate), thus it was akin to "middle class." Marx used the term to mean "owners of the means of production," as opposed to the proletariat, or wage labourers, thus, basically two main classes (though he complicated this by referring to "landowners" as a class, albeit marginal). Here's a note on use of the term "middle class" in Marxian theory:

"The issue of the middle class or classes appears to be a major issue within Marxian theory, one often addressed by later Marxists. Many Marxists attempt to show that the middle class is declining, and polarization of society into two classes is a strong tendency within capitalism. Marx's view was that the successful members of the middle class would become members of the bourgeoisie, while the unsuccessful would be forced into the proletariat. In the last few years, many have argued that in North America, and perhaps on a world scale, there is an increasing gap between rich and poor and there is a declining middle.


While there have been tendencies in this direction, especially among the farmers and peasantry, there has been no clear long run trend toward decline of the middle class. At the same time as there has been polarization of classes, there have been new middle groupings created. Some of these are small business people, shopkeepers, and small producers while others are professional and managerial personnel, and some intellectual personnel. Well paid working class members and independent trades people might consider themselves to be members of the middle class. Some segments of this grouping have expanded in number in recent years. While it is not clear that these groups hold together and constitute a class in any Marxian sense of being combined in opposition to other classes, they do form a middle grouping..." [1]

Then there is the usage you refer to, which is more common and given as the definition in dictionaries such as Merrian-Webster: "bourgeois, citizen of a town, a middle-class person." Does it not, thus, make sense that we should use the Marxist definition when we are referring to M's theory about class relations and use the dictionary definition otherwise? Sunray (talk) 00:35, 28 January 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for clarifying that Sunray. I think we should use the term "bourgeois" only when writing about Marxist theory. Elsewhere, we should use the terms "upper class"/"middle class". ~ Mesoderm (talk) 04:00, 28 January 2012 (UTC)
It would likely be safest, then, to refer to the bourgeoisie, as that is the term used by Marx. "Bourgeois" may lead to confusion with the more general term. Sunray (talk)

I've removed the non-Marxist use of bourgeoisie for "upper-class" and added "the one percent". Do we really need a reference for "blue-collar workers" as a synonym for the working class. It would be easy to provide one, but the usage seems sufficiently common that I don't see the need. Finally (for now) is www.ssc.wisc.edu/~oliver/RACIAL/Reports/MadisonOverview.ppt really an unreliable reference? Rick Norwood (talk) 13:39, 28 January 2012 (UTC)

No, I don't think a reference is needed for "blue-collar workers"; I've removed the tag. The MadisonOverview may have been called "unreliable" because it doesn't download/open properly. At least, I couldn't read it. Sunray (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 15:50, 28 January 2012


Working class housing photo[edit]

The photo of a supposedly "working class" street in Camden, New Jersey, USA is totally unrepresentative of actual working class housing in the U.S. and should be replaced. The street shown is practically abandoned and only a few of the very poorest people (almost certainly unemployed) live there. The photo gives the impression of having been selected to make the U.S. look bad. While such streets exist in many places in the U.S., few or no low-wage workers live in them; they can easily afford better. I would select a more representative photo but I don't have one. 38.97.115.21 (talk) 06:32, 4 June 2012 (UTC)Larry Siegel

I have substituted "the urban poor" for working class in this image of urban slum neighborhood. It is a quite good image to illustrate an urban slum. User:Fred Bauder Talk 15:53, 4 June 2012 (UTC)
This edit results in a misleading illustration of United States working class life, which is, in the main, much more prosperous. User:Fred Bauder Talk 01:31, 5 June 2012 (UTC)
This article covers all social class in all time periods. I would defy you to propose that historically the majority of urban and rural workers, and as a subset, the majority of US workers, have not lived in slum housing. Fifelfoo (talk) 03:54, 5 June 2012 (UTC)
Historically, Dreary tract housing was more typical. Keep in mind that in the United States "middle class" means working class. User:Fred Bauder Talk 13:44, 5 June 2012 (UTC)
Skilled workers in the United States make serious money. Wikipedia is NOT RT. User:Fred Bauder Talk 14:02, 5 June 2012 (UTC)
Though the current caption you proposed is perfect, in that it both regards social class, exemplifies the point of having a housing image, and accurately represents the image. Well done! Fifelfoo (talk) 03:55, 5 June 2012 (UTC)

Class Conflict[edit]

This part of the article has a good start on Marx’s thoughts on class conflict, but as the Wikipedia editors said it needs expansion. The article says, “For Marx, the history of class society was the history of class conflict” which is a good statement, but could be backed up by more examples of exactly how lower classes conflict with higher classes. When it points out that it was a “heightened form of class conflict,” so I would maybe expect to see some evidence of a less violent and bloody example of class conflict. In the second paragraph it talks about poverty and exploitation being an in-built structure of capitalism, and that these two characteristics have always been a part of class conflict. I agree with this statement that poverty and exploitation have continuously had a role in class conflict, but it would be helpful in showing where poverty and exploitation were a part of class conflict before capitalism and Marx came to be. With these changes appropriate references would have to be added. LFriesen (talk) 21:01, 27 September 2012 (UTC)LFriesen

Issues with this article[edit]

The second half of this article is in bad shape. Consider the article on social class in Encyclopedia of Social Theory for suggestions. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Couriel76 (talkcontribs) 01:44, 30 September 2012 (UTC)