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The Working Class - Essay Example

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The term "working class" is loosely used in everyday conversation. The common conception of the society of the working class usually depends on the context and speaker, and is strongly linked to education, occupation, culture and income. When used conventionally, the working class is often a description of the segment of society who uses their physical labor in order to earn a decent living.
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The Working Class
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The Working Class

Download file to see previous pages... Also, definitions of social classes strongly reflect a number of sociological perspectives including anthropology, psychology, economics, and sociology.
This paper will explore one of the most controversial definitions of the working class; one which was put forward by Karl Marx and has became the main tenet of the struggle towards socialism. For the sake of clarity and accuracy, this report will also look at the strengths and flaws of the given definition.
Recognizing the struggle between social classes in the 19th century, Marx asserts the creation of a classless society to be triggered by the revolution of the proletariat (Marx and Engels 1848). Proletariat is the term which Marx used in order to refer to the working class. According to him, this class constitutes "those who do not own the means of production, distribution, and exchange and must sell their labor in order to live" (Marx and Engels 1848). It should be noted that in Marx's description of the capitalist society, proletariat is an important segment in the dynamic of capitalism alongside with the bourgeoisie. Even though he recognized the existence of other social classes like the landlords, petty bourgeoisie, peasants, and lumpenproletariat, these two classes are in the limelight being in a constant struggle because of their different interests.
In defining the working class, it is irrefutable that Marx has primarily used an economic perspective. The proletariat is portrayed as a utility maximizing entity because he seeks to maximize the value of his resource, his labor power, in return for higher wages. The bourgeoisie, on the other hand, is a profit maximizing entity because he seeks to minimize the cost of production by keeping wages for workers low. It should be noted that in Marx society, costs of production are allocated to fixed costs such as rent and interest. Wages, being the most variable and controllable, is kept at minimum. The bourgeoisie also aims to generate the most efficient productivity from the proletariat as this will also increase his profits. In this case, we see an antagonistic and contradictory relationship between the working class and the owners of capital. Therefore, in Marx's definition of proletariat, we see that the working class is portrayed as an exploited segment of the society. The relationship between the two major classes also documents that power is concentrated on the hands of those who own the means of production. The working class, as implied by the definition of Marx (1948), is seen by the bourgeoisie as a factor of production together with land and capital: "He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, the most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack, that is required of him."
So, who exactly constitutes the working class The proletariat, as described above, is the segment who doesn't have ownership the means of production and who solely relies on his physical labor to earn a living. Marx referred to them as "masses of laborers, crowded in the factory" which indicates an industrial setting. Proletariats are those who build ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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