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service class

service class A term first used by the Austro-Marxist Karl Renner (Wandlungen der modernen Gesellschaft, 1953) to describe employees in government (civil servants), private economic service (business administrators, managers, technical experts), and social services (‘distributive agents of welfare’). Subsequently adopted by the British sociologist John H. Goldthorpe, to describe those whose employment relationship is based on a code of service rather than a labour contract, and so involves trust as a key element with autonomy as its corollary. In the so-called Goldthorpe class scheme, the service class (his Class I) therefore refers in the main to professional, senior administrative, and senior managerial employees, for whom autonomy and discretion are a necessary part of the work situation. Since the reference to ‘service’ can sometimes be misleading (members of the service class are not all employed in the service sector or service industries) some writers prefer to translate Renner's concept as ‘salariat’.

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