Class and Crisis: Capitalism and Evolution of Middle Class

  February 18, 2021   Read time 2 min
Class and Crisis: Capitalism and Evolution of Middle Class
Modern social classes are mainly the result of expanding industrialization in nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Class society is not an equal society and many primordial values are challenged in this society. People are not judged according to their character content rather the class ties define people's identity. Inequality prevails.

Alongside the global working class, new global middle classes, professional and intermediate strata, both North and South, have emerged in the past few decades. These middle layers - although often part of the working class in a technical sense, in that they sell their labor to capital - constitute the major market segment for global capitalism worldwide and also its real and potential social base, or part of a would-be global capitalist historic bloc. If in the 1980s and 1990s countries such as India and China were seen by transnationalizing capitalists as important new sites for tapping cheap labor and unloading investible surplus, they became as the twenty-first century progressed major markets for global corporations. By the end of the first decade of the new century there were some 300 million people in China who had become integrated into global markets as consumers, making this "middle class" more numerous in China than in the United States. In the Marxist conception class is a relational category grounded in production relations. Traditional middle classes are those groups who own their own means of production and who live by the labor they expend on those means of production, while new middle classes are those professional and managerial strata that occupy locations between the capitalist and the working class proper, such as managerial elites who do not own the means of production but do control labor power on behalf of capital in exchange for higher status and income. In distinction, Weberian class analysis is based on market or exchange relations. Weber saw middle classes as status groups defining themselves in relation to others through cultural practices associated with consumption. Much of the literature on class and globalization from a Weberian perspective emphasizes the cultural, ideological, and aesthetic dimensions of a new global middle class.90 In inciting consumption, "the transnational capitalist class ends up creating a transnational middle class, which is oriented to cosmopolitan consumption and which makes up the primary consumers fueling the global economy," observes the sociologist Steve Derne in his study on India. With economic liberalization in India, members of this class can draw on new highpaying jobs oriented to the international market and can buy international products previously restricted by foreign-exchange controls.