Full Text

class

TERESA AMOTT


Subject Literature

Key-Topics class (social)

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631207535.1997.x


Extract

During the Industrial Revolution, the term came to refer both to a group of persons sharing common social or economic status and to persons engaged in common economic activities. The political economists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries tied status more firmly to economic role or function, with the discussion of the three great classes (landlords, capitalists, and laborers) in J.S. Mill and D. Ricardo. The decisive step from taxonomy to teleology was taken by Karl M arx and Friedrich E ngels , whose polemical writings divide humankind under capitalism into two classes, wagelaborers who produce surplus and capitalists who appropriate it. The bourgeoisie and the proletariat, each with its own consciousness and organization, form “two great hostile camps,” locked in a class struggle whose inevitable outcome is the demise of capitalism and the birth of socialism/communism. Thus Marx and Engels wove together considerations of status, economic function, political consciousness, and human destiny into the well-known revolutionary claim in the Communist Manifesto : “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” (Marx, Engels, 1848). Much of the twentieth-century theorizing about class has since wrestled with the two intertwined problematics of the taxonomy of class and the teleology of class struggle. The taxonomic debate has tended to remain ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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