Class analysts have long criticized Marx and Engels for ignoring the growing importance of the so-called new middle class of advanced capitalist societies: the expanding numbers of managers, administrators, and professionals. In reply, Marxist sociologists have maintained that the Manifesto deliberately paints an abstract picture of a pure type of capitalist system, whereas Marx's writings elsewhere acknowledge the complexities of actually existing societies. It is certainly true that in Capital, volume i (1867), for example, Marx observes that the development of joint-stock companies tends to generate a separation of the labour of management from the ownership of capital. The former is conducted by a growing army of ‘officers [managers] and NCO's [supervisors], who command during the labour process in the name of capital’.
The debate was given new impetus by Harry Braverman's claim, in Labour and Monopoly Capital (1974), that many groups of hitherto middle-class workers (notably routine clerical employees and skilled artisans) were being effectively proletarianized by having their labour dehumanized or de-skilled. According to Braverman, such a process was endemic to capitalist societies, since the imperatives of capitalist production compelled those who owned or managed industry to fragment tasks according to the principles of scientific management, in order to sustain profits and maintain control over labour. Braverman's work attracted much comment and provided the theoretical foundations for numerous neo-Marxist studies of the labour process.
Although Braverman's own data have largely been discredited, the popular perception is that debate about proletarianization remains unresolved, because participants have yet to agree about the criteria by which the process is to be measured. At least four different conceptions of proletarianization can be identified in the literature. For some commentators the argument is one about the relative size of classes. Proletarianization in this sense implies a growth in the proportion of working-class places in the overall class structure. Others have looked at social mobility data, attempting to calculate the likelihood of individuals being proletarianized by downward mobility into the working class, either from middle-class backgrounds or during the course of an occupational career. For these authors it is people, rather than places in the structure, that constitute the subjects of the process. A third criterion refers to the labour process itself. Some researchers have argued that many seemingly non-proletarian places in the class structure (such as those occupied by routine clerical workers) have often been so de-skilled, in terms of job content and the routinization of tasks, that they are indistinguishable from those occupied by the manual working class. A final criterion refers to proletarianization in its socio-political sense; that is, the extent to which certain middle-class groups within the labour-force come to identify themselves as working class or as allies of the working class, and so to share its political aspirations and culture.
One clear finding from the empirical research is that proletarianization may be present according to one criterion but absent according to another. For example, many routine clerical workers share proletarian conditions of employment (in terms of income, fringe benefits, autonomy at work, and chances of promotion), but display a typically middle-class socio-political profile (in terms of voting behaviour, propensity to join trade unions, and class self-identification). See also DEGRADATION-OF-WORK THESIS; EMBOURGEOISEMENT.
"proletarianization." A Dictionary of Sociology. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 21, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/proletarianization
"proletarianization." A Dictionary of Sociology. . Retrieved February 21, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/proletarianization
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.