Professional–managerial class

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The term professional–managerial class (PMC) refers to a social class within capitalism that, by controlling production processes through occupying a superior management position, is neither proletarian nor bourgeoisie. Conceived as "The New Class" by social scientists and critics such as Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the 1970s, this group of middle class professionals is distinguished from other social classes by their training and education, typically business qualifications and university degrees,[1] with occupations thought to offer influence on society that would otherwise be available only to capital owners.[2] The professional–managerial class tends to have incomes above the average for their country, with major exceptions being academia and print journalism.[3]

The term was coined in 1977 by John and Barbara Ehrenreich.[4][5] The term became widely used in American political discourse in the late 2010s as a shorthand to refer to technocratic liberals or wealthy Democratic voters.[6][5]

Catherine Liu, in Virtue Hoarders (2021), characterized the PMC as white-collar left liberals afflicted with a superiority complex in relation to ordinary members of the working class.[7][8][9] Hans Magnus Enzensberger had also observed the "characterless opportunism" of its members,[10] in reference to its constant shifting of allegiances, not only between the leisured and working classes but also among themselves.[10]

It is estimated that in the 1930s United States people in professional–managerial class occupations made up less than 1 percent of total employment. In 1972, about 24 percent of American jobs were in professional–managerial class occupations. By 1983 the number had risen to 28 percent and in 2006, 35 percent.[11]

James Burnham had proposed the existence of a similar class in his 1941 book, The Managerial Revolution, arguing that they had become the new ruling class.

The PMC hypothesis contributed to the Marxist debates on class in Fordism and was used as an analytical category in the examination of non-proletarian employees. However, orthodox Marxists consider the PMC hypothesis to be revisionism of the Marxist understanding of class.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Green, Philip (1985). Retrieving Democracy: In Search of Civic Equality. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9780847674053.
  2. ^ Kellner, Hansfried; Frank W. Heuberger (1994). "Hidden Technocrats: The New Class and New Capitalism". Transaction Publishers.
  3. ^ Gail, Kelly; Sheila Slaughter (1990). Women's higher education in comparative perspective. Springer. ISBN 9780792308003.
  4. ^ Ehrenreich, John; Barbara Ehrenreich (1979). Pat Walker (ed.). Between Labor and Capital (1st ed.). Boston: South End Press. ISBN 0-89608-037-4.
  5. ^ a b "On the Origins of the Professional-Managerial Class: An Interview with Barbara Ehrenreich". Dissent Magazine. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  6. ^ "Professional-Managerial Chasm". n+1. October 10, 2019. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  7. ^ "Virtue Hoarders: our scolding elites".
  8. ^–managerial-class-w-catherine-liu[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Aufhebunga Bunga podcast: The Worst Class ft. Catherine Liu". University of Minnesota Press.
  10. ^ a b Frost, Amber A'Lee (November 2019). "The Characterless Opportunism of the Managerial Class". Vol. 3, no. 4.
  11. ^ Ehrenreich, Barbara; John Ehrenreich (February 2013). "Barbara and John Ehrenreich: The Real Story Behind the Crash and Burn of America's Managerial Class". AlterNet. Retrieved October 31, 2020.
  12. ^ Horton, John (1979). "Marxist versus Revisionist Concepts of Socialism". Synthesis. 3 (1): 34–38. ISSN 0193-869X. JSTOR 43783375.

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