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Working class
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Working class

The term working class is used to denote a social class. The definition of the term "working class" is controversial, and depends on the politics of the person making the definition and on the society being discussed. For example, British writers are more likely to define class as being at least partly inherited, whereas Americans are more likely to emphasize current income and employment status.

Table of contents
1 Working for wages
2 As defined by Marx
3 The self-oppression of the working class
4 See also
5 External links
6 Further reading

Working for wages

Although some people who can reasonably be considered workers draw salaries, generally the working class works for wages. So defined, they consititute about 80% of the workforce in the United States. In the United States, following a sight rise in real wages during the dot com boom of the late 1990s, their income has slipped slightly during the first years of the 21st century. [1]

As defined by Marx

Karl Marx defined the "working class" or proletariat as "those individuals who sell their labor and do not own the means of production" whom he believed to be responsible for creating the wealth of a society (buildings, bridges and furniture, for example, are physically built by members of this class).

The proletariat are further subdivided by Marxists into the ordinary proletariat and the lumpenproletariat (rag-proletariat), those who are extremely poor and cannot find legal work on a regular basis. These may be prostitutes, beggars, or homeless people.

The self-oppression of the working class

Many of the problems of working class people have been blamed on excessive consumption of alcohol, laziness, failure to save money, and more recently satellite television, spectator sports and drugs. In reference to this, Oscar Wilde said "Work is the curse of the drinking classes". This does not necessarily mean that the working class is morally inferior to the wealthier classes. First it isn't clear that in general the working class are really any less hardworking than the wealthier classes, as such a trait is difficult to measure. Furthermore, if the working class does show more dysfunctional behavior, this could be the result of the sparse opportunities and constant hardships that they have faced. These behaviors could be a result of the socioeconomic conditions as much as those conditions result from dysfunctional behavior.

While some view religion as the key to overcoming this "self-oppression", Karl Marx spoke of religion as "the opium of the masses", and the greatest obstacle to their advancement. As a consequence, most Marxists oppose organized religion.

See also

trade union, middle class, blue collar, white collar, lower class, underclass, illegal immigrant, minimum wage

External links

Further reading