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Neo Marxist Views on Class


The resurgence of western Marxism in the 1960s and 1970s involved a examination of the theory of class. The separation of ownership and control of the means of production, the decreasing ratio of managers to workers, the increasing internal differentiation of capital and labor and the great expansion of the tertiary sector of the occupational structure necessitated reconsideration of the thesis of class polarization. The economic logic of the antagonism between capital and labor may be as compelling as ever. It has become difficult to specify who constitute the bourgeoisie and proletariat.  Parkin has distinguished three basic Marxist responses: 

The minimalist theory of the proletariat as in Poulantzas’s theory of the structural determination of class. This theory holds that class position is a matter of objective location in structures of political and ideological domination and subordination as well as structures of economic exploitation. The working class consists of only those wage labors who engage in productive work .The shrunken working class constituted is demarcated from the new petty bourgeoisie which comprises unproductive workers supervisors who contribute to the domination of the working class even as they themselves are subordinate to the bourgeoisie and all workers who possess sector knowledge of the productive process and contribute to ideological domination of workers and the extraction of surplus value from them. They are themselves fragmented and dominated by the bourgeoisie. Bourgeoisie comprises those who discharge the functions of capital ( allocation of the means of production to the given use, direction of labor process and disposal of the product) including managers and the heads of state apparatuses who in the capitalist state manage the state functions in the service of the capital.

The maximalist theory hinges on the distinction between those social groups peculiar to capitalism and those which will also make a contribution to socialism. Thus landlords, renters etc are bourgeoisie and their activities will be expunged from the socialist society. Many other social groups including the new middle class have a different long run political interests. Their future is a socialist society is assured. Aran has redefined unproductive labor as that which results in the output of goods and services the demand for which is attributable to the specific conditions and relationships of the capitalist system and which would be absent in a rationally ordered society, its generation of a large acceptable class ; workers and bourgeoisie and its exclusion of social groups who do not contribute to a rational society make the maximalist theory. The maximalist approach encourages concern for the internal differentiation of the working class.