I have now posted two blogs – ‘taking social class seriously’ and ‘Scambler’s social class classification’ – in which I have posited a breakdown of social class at odds with extant ‘socio-economic schema’.
In the second blog I ventured my own schema, re-fashioned from the class analyses of Clement and Myles. In this third blog I offer: (a) a refinement (if that is the right word) of my schema, (b) an ‘informed guess’ at the percentages in each of my (now five) broad ‘categories of class’, and (c) some further comments on our governing oligarchy. Perhaps the most prudent remarks in this third of a growing family of blogs are the qualifications that I close with!
CATEGORY (A): Capitalist executive (significant, largely transnational and ‘detached’ owners of capital) (1%)
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) (24%)
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) (15%)
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) (45%)
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)
CATEGORY (E): Working class (outside paid work) (15%)
DISPLACED WORKERS (never worked and long-term unemployed) (P)
The sharp-eyed or simply diligent will have noticed the addition of Category (E). Rather than treat this as a residual home for those unqualified for inclusion in the class schema, I here define them as a displaced segment of the working class (hearking back to a piece I co-write with Paul Higgs in 1998).
The qualifications to this schema that I proffered in the initial blog 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”.
I have in this blog tentatively appended percentages for each of the general categories of class (A) to (E). There are two points to be made. The first is that inserting these percentages certainly takes me beyond what I have in another blog called ‘meta-construction’. Although I would argue that my ‘guesswork’ is largely consonant with research findings, it lacks independent support (although such support is in principle possible).
The second point is that in my view – and consistently with arguments I have been advancing in one way or another for nearly 20 years – (we) sociologists should be focusing far more attention on: (i) the 0.1% who comprise a cabal of globally heavy-hitting owners of capital who buy sufficient national state power to secure governance sufficient to further of their agendas and interests; (ii) the 2% who comprise a governing oligarchy; and (iii) the 7-8% of ‘supporters’ and ‘co-optees’ (represented in each of the class categories (A) to (D)) who are critical for the viability of this governing oligarchy.
How the 0.1 – 2% solicit sufficient electoral support to exploit and oppress is much better understood within professional sociology.
We can and should continue to document poverty and its sequelae. But sociology should do more than document. To explain enduring, deepening poverty it is necessary to have a sufficiently theorized notion of class structures and relations in general, and a grasp of the key class drivers in particular.