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Encyclopedia > Middle class

The middle class, in colloquial usage, consists of those people who have a degree of economic independence, but not a great deal of social influence or power. The term often encompasses merchants and professionals, bureaucrats, and some farmers and skilled workers[citation needed]. A monument to the working and supporting classes along Market Street in the heart of San Franciscos Financial District, home to tens-of-thousands of professional and managerial middle class workers each day. ... Middle Class were one of the first Hardcore bands in history. ... Influence Science and Practice (ISBN 0321188950) is a Psychology book examining the key ways people can be influenced by Compliance Professionals. The books authors is Robert B. Cialdini, Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University. ... Much of the recent sociological debate on power revolves around the issue of the constraining and/or enabling nature of power. ...

Social hierarchies, and their definitions, vary. There are many factors that can define the middle class of a society, such as money, behavior and heredity. In some countries, it is predominantly money that determines an individual's position in the social hierarchy. In others, other social factors may have as strong an influence. Such factors include education, professional or employment status, home ownership, or culture.

Connotations attached to the term also vary significantly between and within different countries. In the United States of America usage is increasingly broad in scope, but almost always positive in intent (see American middle class). A monument to the working and supporting classes along Market Street in the heart of San Franciscos Financial District, home to tens-of-thousands of professional and managerial middle class workers each day. ...


History and evolution of the term

The middle class in this article refers to people neither at the top nor at the bottom of a social hierarchy. The term "middle class" has a long history and has had many, sometimes contradictory, meanings. It was once defined by exception as an intermediate social class between the nobility and the peasantry of Europe. While the nobility owned the countryside, and the peasantry worked the countryside, a new bourgeoisie (literally "town-dwellers") arose around mercantile functions in the city. This had the result that the middle class were often the wealthiest stratum of society (whereas today many take the term to refer by definition to the only-moderately wealthy.) Social hierarchy, a multi-tiered pyramid-like social or functional structure having an apex as the centralization of power. ... Social class refers to the hierarchical distinctions between individuals or groups in societies or cultures. ... Nobility is a traditional hereditary status (see hereditary titles) that exists today in many countries (mainly present or former monarchies). ... Categories: 1911 Britannica | Historical stubs | Feudalism ... World map showing the location of Europe. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

Descending from this distinction, the phrase "middle class" came to be used in the United Kingdom during the Industrial Revolution to describe the professional and business class, as distinct from both the titled nobility and the landed gentry on the one hand and the agricultural and (increasingly) industrial laborers on the other. The Industrial Revolution was a major shift of technological, socioeconomic, and cultural conditions that occurred in the late 18th century and early 19th century in some Western countries. ... For other uses, see Peerage (disambiguation). ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

Throughout the twentieth century, the titled nobility of the United Kingdom became less homogeneous. This was because of the increasingly eclectic background of new creations, most of which were politically driven by the so-called middle class, and the declining power of the House of Lords relative to the House of Commons after the Parliament Act 1911. So far as the hereditary element of class was concerned, the titled upper class became less numerous because of the near cessation of new hereditary creations after the Life Peerages Act 1958. This was coupled with the natural rate of extinction of existing hereditary titles and the near abolition of the hereditary element of the House of Lords at the end of the twentieth century. At this point, hereditary titles are in no way the key to being "upper class," although they do lend a distinctive panache within the upper class. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, Tim Hames was able to write in The Times (on 9 October 2006): "In a world in which David Cameron, whose mother-in-law is Lady Astor, and George Osborne, the son of a baronet, can claim to be “upper middle class” and that claim passes without much challenge, the upper class has plainly been reduced to such a rump that it now consists exclusively of the Royal Family." The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and is also commonly referred to as the Lords. The Sovereign, the House of Commons (which is the lower house of Parliament and referred to as the Commons), and the Lords together comprise the Parliament. ... Type Lower House Speaker of the House of Commons Leader of the House of Commons Michael Martin, (Non-affiliated) since October 23, 2000 Harriet Harman, QC, (Labour) since June 28, 2007 Shadow Leader of the House of Commons Theresa May, PC, (Conservative) since December 6, 2005 Members 646 Political groups... In the United Kingdom, Parliament Act refers to each of two Acts of Parliament, passed in 1911 and 1949 respectively. ... The Life Peerages Act 1958 established the modern standards for the creation of Life Peers by the monarch of the United Kingdom, and granted them non-hereditary voting status in the House of Lords. ... The Times is a national newspaper published daily in the United Kingdom since 1788. ... David William Donald Cameron (born 9 October 1966) is the Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition in the United Kingdom, positions he has occupied since December 2005. ... George Gideon Oliver Osborne (born 23 May 1971 in London) is a Conservative politician in the United Kingdom, and has been Member of Parliament for Tatton since 2001. ... A baronet (traditional abbreviation Bart, modern abbreviation Bt) or the rare female equivalent, a baronetess (abbreviation Btss), is the holder of a hereditary title awarded by the British Crown known as a baronetcy. ...

Current usage

In early industrial capitalism, the middle class was defined primarily as white-collar workers—those who worked for wages (like all workers), but did so in conditions that were comfortable and safe compared to the conditions for blue-collar workers of the "working class." The expansion of the phrase "middle class" in the United States appears to have been predicated in the 1970s by the decline of labor unions in the U.S. and the entrance of formerly domestic women into the public workforce. A great number of pink-collar jobs arose, where people could avoid the dangerous conditions of blue-collar work and therefore claim to be "middle class" even if they were making far less money than a unionized blue-collar worker. Capitalism generally refers to an economic system in which the means of production are all or mostly privately[1][2] owned and operated for profit, and in which investments, distribution, income, production and pricing of goods and services are determined through the operation of a free market. ... White-collar workers perform tasks which are less laborious yet often more highly paid than blue-collar workers, who do manual work. ... A blue-collar worker is a member of the working class who performs manual labor and earns an hourly wage. ... The term working class is used to denote a social class. ... The 1970s decade refers to the years from 1970 to 1979, also called The Seventies. ... A union (labor union in American English; trade union, sometimes trades union, in British English; either labour union or trade union in Canadian English) is a legal entity consisting of employees or workers having a common interest, such as all the assembly workers for one employer, or all the workers... A pink-collar worker does work that is traditionally or most likely done by women, or work that is performed in an office-environment but does not require the professional training of white-collar work. ...

In the United States by the end of the twentieth century, more people identified themselves as middle class than as lower or "working" class, with insignificant numbers identifying themselves as upper class. In contrast, in the United Kingdom, in recent surveys up to two-thirds of Britons identify themselves as working class. This can reasonably be attributed to the wish to avoid the pejorative connotation described above. Nonetheless the British Labour Party, which grew out of the organized labor movement and originally drew almost all of its support from the working class, reinvented itself under Tony Blair in the 1990s as "New Labour," a party competing with the Conservative Party for the votes of the middle class as well as the working class. The Labour Party is a political party in the United Kingdom. ... For other people of the same name, see Tony Blair (disambiguation) Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born May 6, 1953)[1] is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, Leader of the Labour Party, and Member of Parliament for the constituency... New Labour is an alternative name of the British political Labour Party. ... The Conservative Party (officially the Conservative and Unionist Party) is the second largest political party in the United Kingdom in terms of sitting Members of Parliament (MPs), the largest in terms of public membership, and the oldest political party in the United Kingdom. ...

The size of the middle class depends on how it is defined, whether by education, wealth, environment of upbringing, genetic relationships, social network, manners or values, etc. These are all related, though far from deterministically dependent. The following factors are often ascribed in modern usage to a "middle class": For the business meaning, see Wealth (economics). ... DNA, the molecular basis for inheritance. ... A social network is a social structure made of nodes (which are generally individuals or organizations) that are tied by one or more specific types of relations, such as values, visions, idea, financial exchange, friends, kinship, dislike, trade, web links, sexual relations, disease transmission (epidemiology), or airline routes. ...

  • Achievement of tertiary education.
  • Holding professional qualifications, including academics, lawyers, engineers, doctors, and clergymen regardless of their leisure or wealth.
  • Belief in bourgeois values, such as high rates of house or long-term lease ownership and jobs which are perceived to be "secure." In the United States and in the United Kingdom, politicians typically target the votes of the middle classes.
  • Lifestyle. In the United Kingdom, social status has historically been linked less directly to wealth than in the United States, and has also been judged by pointers such as accent, manners, place of education, occupation and the class of a person's family, circle of friends and acquaintances. Often in the United States, the middle class are the most eager participants in pop culture. The second generation of new immigrants will often enthusiastically forsake their traditional folk culture as a sign of having arrived in the middle class.

In France, the middle classes helped to drive the French Revolution[citation needed]. Students attend a lecture at a tertiary institution. ... For information on the type of fish called Lawyer, see the article on Burbot. ... Engineering is the application of scientific and technical knowledge to solve human problems. ... see also Holy Orders The following terms have traditional meanings for the Anglican Church, and possibly beyond: A churchman is in principle a member of a church congregation, in practice someone in holy orders. ... Bourgeois at the end of the thirteenth century. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... This page discusses periodic tenancies (i. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Job security has different meanings according to the employment laws of each country. ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      A politician is an individual who is a formally recognized and active member of a government, or a person who influences the way a society is governed through an understanding of political power and group dynamics. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Popular culture, or pop culture, is the vernacular (peoples) culture that prevails in a modern society. ... Immigration is the act of moving to or settling in another country or region, temporarily or permanently. ... Folk culture refers to the localized lifestyle of a subsistence or otherwise inward looking culture. ... The French Revolution (1789–1815) was a period of political and social upheaval in the political history of France and Europe as a whole, during which the French governmental structure, previously an absolute monarchy with feudal privileges for the aristocracy and Catholic clergy, underwent radical change to forms based on...

Marxism and the middle class

Marxism does not necessarily see the groups described above as the middle class. The middle class is not a fixed category within Marxism, and debate continues as to the content of this social group. Marxism is both the theory and the political practice (that is, the praxis) derived from the work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. ...

Marxism defines social classes not according to the wealth or prestige of their members, but according to their relationship with the means of production: a noble owns land; a capitalist owns capital; a worker has the ability to work and must seek employment in order to make a living. However, between the rulers and the ruled there is most often a group of people, often called a middle class, which lacks a specific relationship. Historically, during feudalism, the bourgeoisie were that middle class. People often describe the contemporary bourgeoisie as the "middle class from a Marxist point of view", but this is incorrect.[citation needed] Marxism states that the bourgeoisie are the ruling class (or upper class) in a capitalist society. Means of production (abbreviated MoP; German: Produktionsmittel), also called means of labour are the materials, tools and other instruments used by workers to make products. ... Roland pledges his fealty to Charlemagne; from a manuscript of a chanson de geste. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

Marxists vigorously debate the exact composition of the middle class under capitalism. Some describe a "co-ordinating class" which implements capitalism on behalf of the capitalists, composed of the petit bourgeoisie, professionals and managers. Others dispute this, freely using the term "middle class" to refer to affluent white-collar workers as described above (even though, in Marxist terms, they are part of the proletariat—the working class). Still others (for example, Council communists) allege that there is a class comprising intellectuals, technocrats and managers which seeks power in its own right. This last group of communists allege that such technocratic middle classes seized power and government for themselves in Soviet-style societies (see co-ordinatorism). Petit-bourgeois or Anglicised petty bourgeois is a French term that reffered to the members of the lower middle social-classes. ... A professional can be either a person in a profession (certain types of skilled work requiring formal training / education) or in sports (a sportsman / sportwoman doing sports for payment). ... Management (from Old French ménagement the art of conducting, directing, from Latin manu agere to lead by the hand) characterises the process of leading and directing all or part of an organization, often a business, through the deployment and manipulation of resources (human, financial, material, intellectual or intangible). ... The proletariat (from Latin proles, offspring) is a term used to identify a lower social class; a member of such a class is proletarian. ... Council communism is a Radical Left movement originating in Germany and the Netherlands in the 1920s. ... Soviet redirects here. ... Coordinatorism is an economic system in which control is held neither by people who own capital, nor by the workers, but instead is held by an intervening class of coordinators, typically in the roles of managers, administrators, engineers, university intellectuals, doctors, lawyers. ...

See also

A social class is, at its most basic, a group of people that have similar social status. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... Vacations to destinations such as Hawaii, shown above, may be seen as a hallmark of the Upper-middle class. ... A monument to the working and supporting classes along Market Street in the heart of San Franciscos Financial District, home to tens-of-thousands of professional and managerial middle class workers each day. ... There are very few or no other articles that link to this one. ... Upper class refers to the group of people at the top of a social hierarchy. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... A social class is, at its most basic, a group of people that have similar social status. ... This page is a candidate to be moved to Wiktionary. ... A term used in David Cay Johnstons book Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich - and Cheat Everybody Else, to describe wealthy individuals (the Upper class) or corporations who use political contributions to influence US Government fiscal policy. ... Nouveau riche (French for new rich), or new money refers to persons who acquire wealth within their generation. ... Old money refers in the United Kingdom to the pre-decimal currency of pounds, shillings (or bob) and pence. ... Grange poster depicting the independent, industrious farmer as the keystone figure in society. ... An upscale, well-kept California home, exterting an image of success and respectability. ... The contemporary United States has no legally-recognized social classes. ... For information on the income of individuals please see Personal income in the United States This graphic shows the distribution of gross annual household income. ... For information on household income please see Household income in the United States Personal income for the populatio age 25 or older. ...


  • Brian W. Cashell: Who Are the “Middle Class”?, CRS Report for the Congress, March 20, 2007

The Congressional Research Service is the public policy research arm of the United States Congress. ...

Social stratification : Social class
v  d  e
Bourgeoisie Upper class Ruling class Nobility White-collar
Petite bourgeoisie Upper middle class Creative class Gentry Blue-collar
Proletariat Middle class Working class Nouveau riche/Parvenu Pink-collar
Lumpenproletariat Lower middle class Lower class Old Money Gold-collar
Slave class Underclass Classlessness
Social class in the United States
Upper class Middle class Lower class Income Educational attainment

  Results from FactBites:
Middle class - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1477 words)
Descending from this distinction, the phrase "middle class" came to be used in the United Kingdom during the 18th century to describe the professional and business class, as distinct from both the titled nobility and the landed gentry on the one hand and the agricultural and (increasingly) industrial laborers on the other.
Here the middle class is defined by a similar income level as semi-professionals or business owners; by a shared culture of domesticity and sub-urbanity; and by a level of relative security against social crisis in the form of socially desired skill or wealth.
A modern threat to the middle class is downsizing in many sectors of the American economy, competition from lower-paid foreign workers and contractors, and the systematic elimination of unionized labor.
Middle class - definition of Middle class in Encyclopedia (881 words)
In early industrial capitalism the middle class was defined by exclusion of all remaining semi-feudal nobles, all remaining semi-feudal peasants, and the emerging working class.
Modern theories of political economy consider a large middle class to be a beneficial, stabilizing influence on society, because it has neither the explosive revolutionary tendencies of the lower class, nor the stultifying greedy tendencies of the upper class.
As the swollen middle class in the first world lost its distinctive usefulness as a label, observers invented sub-labels: we often detect in contemporary societies an "upper middle class" and a "lower middle class".
  More results at FactBites »



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