I recently posted a blog – ‘taking social class seriously’ – in which I posited a (neo-Marxist) breakdown of social class at odds with extant ‘socio-economic schema’.
If all such breakdowns are, as has been claimed, research-oriented horses for courses, then the phenomena of prime interest to me, namely, the structural prerequisites and practices and outcomes of the purchase of power by the wealthy, are not amenable to investigation via published schema. If I may repeat myself briefly:
I have argued for the best part of a decade that some of the most urgent challenges confronting UK sociology are focused on questions that cannot be broached or answered using data from the present array of published schema. For me, these are concentrated on a very small and select population, certainly less than the 1% pinpointed by the Occupy Movement. The members of this population comprise what I call the governing oligarchy: namely, the hard core of (transnational) capital owners and the (national) political elite whose ‘cooperation’ they purchase (in my earlier formulation, the ‘greedy bastards’)
What I have termed financial capitalism’s revised class/command dynamic asserts that the select ‘cabalistic’ owners of capital get more for their underwriting or sponsorship of the political elite than was the case in the immediate postwar ‘welfare-statist’ era.
I went on to offer my own schema, re-fashioned ‘meta-theoretically’ (see my bog) from the (theoretical and empirical) class analyses of Clement and Myles. In this tongue-in-cheek update I suggest new rubrics for the social classes I identified.
CATEGORY (A): Capitalist executive (significant, largely transnational and ‘detached’ owners of capital)
SOCIAL CLASS I
CAPITAL MONOPOLISTS (hard core of heavy capital-owners who are ‘players’)
SOCIAL CLASS II
CAPITAL AUXILIARIES (soft auxiliary core of heavy capital-owners who are non-players)
SOCIAL CLASS III
CAPITAL ‘SLEEPERS’ (insider higher management, light capital-owners who support players)
CATEGORY (B): New middle class (managers in the service of capital)
SOCIAL CLASS IV
INSIDER HIGHER MANAGERS (‘Co-opted’ higher/middle managers who support players)
SOCIAL CLASS V
OUTSIDER HIGHER MANAGERS (higher managers, independent of players)
SOCIAL CLASS VI
MIDDLE MANAGERS (middle managers, independent of players) (P)
SOCIAL CLASS VII
CAPITAL ASPIRERS (‘aspirational’, petit-bourgeoisie, independent of players) (P)
CATEGORY (C): Old middle class (established professionals)
SOCIAL CLASS VIII
INSIDER PROFRESSIONALS (‘co-opted’, high-status professionals who support players) (P)
SOCIAL CLASS IX
OUTSIDER PROFESSIONALS (high-status professionals, independent of players) (P)
SOCIAL CLASS X
SEMI-PROFESSIONALS (semi-professionals, independent of players (P)
CATEGORY (D): Working class (waged workers)
SOCIAL CLASS XI
INSIDER WORKERS (‘co-opted’, supervisory, waged workers, support players) (P)
SOCIAL CLASS XII
OUTSIDER WHITE-COLLAR WORKERS (non-manual waged workers, independent of players) (P)
SOCIAL CLASS XIII
OUTSIDER BLUE-COLLAR WORKERS (waged manual workers, independent of players) (P)
SOCIAL CLASS XIV
OUTSIDER SEMI/UNSKILLED WORKERS (waged semi- and unskilled manual workers, independent of players) (P)
The qualifications to this schema that I proffered before still apply:
Within the capital executive there exists a hard core of heavy ‘globalised’ capital owners personally committed to the enhancement of their capital (or material) assets. I define these as ‘detached’ This fraction of the 1% constitutes the class driver for order/change, exercising its will through the offices of those in the political elite, whose members have mostly been recruited or are allied to the capital executive. The governing oligarchy’s personnel are – and this is the key sociological point – surfers of a revised class structuring of UK society in financial capitalism (which is, as intersectionalists remind us, also structured by gender, ethnicity and so on).
I have made a distinction between supporters and non-supporters of players. This is important because the less than 1% critically ‘rely on’ the co-option of others in the capital executive, new and old middle classes and even the working class. This is not a matter of electoral or infrastructural support but of a compact of interest. These are people – from managers and accountants to lawyers and physicians to supervisors and union officials – whose cooperation with the governing oligarchy has been directly or indirectly hired or bought: they profit from the liaison.
The term ‘precariat’ appears (now as (p)) in parentheses. I do not accept, as the Great British Class Survey would have it, that Standing’s precariat is a class in- let alone or for- itself. But I certainly accept that there is a structural and cultural precariousness associated with financial capitalism. I here regard this as a cross-class matter placing an emboldened question mark after the security and well being of most members of the new, old and working classes (90+% of the population as a whole?). Relatively few UK citizens, I maintain, can anticipate their futures with sanguinity. So my employment of ‘precariat’ acknowledges this insecurity without making the ‘error’ of discovering a new class”.
My proposition is that if we – as a sociological community – must be interested in the capital-buys- power dynamic of what I have called financial capitalism’s novel ‘class/command dynamic’, then we had better renew our theoretical/conceptual/empirical grip not only of social class but, more deeply, of those enduring and ever-innovative ‘contradictions’ of capitalism that compel us to re-articulate it.
Do please go ahead and venture your constructive support and/or criticism. I am finding that I learn as much from the latter as the former (which is how it should be if scholarship counts for anything).