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The working class (or labouring class) comprises those engaged in or labour, especially in occupations and industrial work. Working-class occupations (see also "Designation of workers by collar color") include blue-collar jobs, some white-collar jobs, and most pink-collar jobs. Members of the working class rely exclusively upon earnings from ; thus, according to more inclusive definitions, the category can include almost all of the working population of industrialized economies, as well as those employed in the (cities, towns, villages) of non-industrialized economies or in the rural workforce.


Definitions
As with many terms describing , working class is defined and used in many different ways. The most general definition, used by many , is that the working class includes all those who have (more or less, they do not own e.g a factory) nothing to sell but their labour. These people used to be referred to as the , but that definition has gone out of fashion. In that sense, the working class today includes both white and blue-collar workers, manual and mental workers of all types, excluding only individuals who derive their livelihood from business ownership and the labour of others.

When used non-academically in the United States, however, it often refers to a section of society dependent on physical , especially when compensated with an hourly (for certain types of science, as well as journalistic or political analysis). For example, the working class is loosely defined as those without college degrees. Working-class occupations are then categorized into four groups: unskilled labourers, artisans, , and factory workers.

A common alternative, is to define class by income levels. When this approach is used, the working class can be contrasted with a so-called on the basis of differential terms of access to economic resources, , cultural interests, and other goods and services. The cut-off between working class and middle class here might mean the line where a population has discretionary income, rather than finances for basic needs and essentials (for example, on versus merely and shelter).

Some researchers have suggested that working-class status should be defined subjectively as self-identification with the working-class group. This subjective approach allows people, rather than researchers, to define their own "subjective" and "perceived" social class.


History and growth
In Europe, the working class as such did not exist in large numbers. Instead, most people were part of the labouring class, a group made up of different professions, trades and occupations. A lawyer, craftsman and peasant were all considered to be part of the same , a third estate of people who were neither aristocrats nor church officials. Similar hierarchies existed outside Europe in other pre-industrial societies. The social position of these labouring classes was viewed as ordained by and common religious belief. This social position was contested, particularly by peasants, for example during the German Peasants' War.

In the late 18th century, under the influence of the Enlightenment, European society was in a state of change, and this change could not be reconciled with the idea of a changeless god-created social order. Wealthy members of these societies created ideologies which blamed many of the problems of working-class people on their morals and ethics (i.e. excessive consumption of alcohol, perceived laziness and inability to save money). In The Making of the English Working Class, E. P. Thompson argues that the English working class was present at its own creation, and seeks to describe the transformation of pre-modern labouring classes into a modern, politically self-conscious, working class.

Starting around 1917, a number of countries became ruled ostensibly in the interests of the working class (see Soviet working class). Some historians have noted that a key change in these Soviet-style societies has been a massive a new type of proletarianization, often effected by the administratively achieved forced displacement of peasants and rural workers. Since then, four major industrial states have turned towards semi-market-based governance (, , , ), and one state has turned inwards into an increasing cycle of poverty and brutalization (). Other states of this sort have collapsed (such as the ).

Since 1960, large-scale proletarianization and of commons has occurred in the , generating new working classes. Additionally, countries such as have been slowly undergoing social change, expanding the size of the urban working class.


Marxist definition: the proletariat
defined the working class or as individuals who sell their for and who do not own the means of production. He argued that they were responsible for creating the of a society. He asserted that the working class physically build bridges, craft furniture, grow food, and nurse children, but do not own land, or .

A sub-section of the proletariat, the lumpenproletariat ( rag-proletariat), are the extremely poor and unemployed, such as and people. Marx considered them to be devoid of class consciousness.

In The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and argued that it was the destiny of the working class to displace the system, with the dictatorship of the proletariat (the rule of the many, as opposed to the "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie"), abolishing the social relationships underpinning the class system and then developing into a future society in which "the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all." In general, in Marxist terms and those dependent on the are working class, and those who live on accumulated capital are not. This broad dichotomy defines the . Different groups and individuals may at any given time be on one side or the other. Such contradictions of interests and identity within individuals' lives and within communities can effectively undermine the ability of the working class to act in solidarity to reduce exploitation, inequality, and the role of in determining people's life chances, work conditions, and political power.


See also


Footnotes

Bibliography
(2021). 9780205792412, Pearson Education.
(1988). 9789004087880, E.J. Brill.
(1999). 9781558491885, University of Massachusetts Press.


Further reading
(2021). 9781860649028, I.B. Tauris.
(1968). 9780804706346, Stanford University Press.
(1994). 9781134906819, Routledge.
(2021). 9780312301835, Thomas Dunne Books.
(2021). 9780300153651, Yale University Press.
(1976). 9780465097241, Basic Books. .
(2021). 9781861342027, Macmillan and Co..
(2021). 9780375408908, Knopf.
(2021). 9780415300865, Routledge.
(2021). 9780520277588, University of California Press.
(2021). 9780801487279, Cornell University Press.


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