A Marxist Vision of Social Class

Based on Control Over the Means of Production



1) Bourgeoisie -- is a pure or true capitalist.  Their wealth lies within investments.  True Capitalists rely primarily on prior wealth to maintain material interests.  Physical and mental labor is not the primary source of revenue.   Their continued prosperity is dependent on the success of the capitalist mode of production.  When the stock market crashes, they are likely to have nothing. They are the group that is most likely to commit suicide as a result of a crash.  Since they do not "work" in the traditional sense (Marx called it “unproductive labor), they are not eligible for Social Security. Their capital investment is operationally defined as being three standard deviations higher than the norm.  Their primary strategy for pursuing material interest is securing the continuation of the capitalist economy.

2) Petty-bourgeoisie -- their wealth lies within their mental and physical labor.  Although they are likely to have an investment in the stock market, their primary strategy to pursue material interest is their ability to get others (or self) to produce at a maximum level with minimum overhead.  Their secondary strategy is securing the continuation of the capitalist economy.  Wright  separates  this group into the following categories: a) large employer; b) small employer; c) petty-bourgeoisie;  d) manager;  e) supervisor;  f) semi-autonomous.    These groups have different amounts of control over the means of production but their strategies to pursue material interest share a common ground.  The petty-bourgeoisie constitutes professionals who have greater than average capital investment but less than three standard deviations above the norm.

3) Pensioned Proletariat -- these workers usually belong to a union that develops formal strategies to pursue their material interests.  The success of the union is directly related to the success of the business in which they negotiate.   The success of the business is related to the success of the capitalist economy.   Pensions offered by both unions and businesses are directly tied to the stock market. When profits fall or when the production of the commodity becomes obsolete, the ability to formally negotiate for the workers' material interests is jeopardized.  Government workers may not belong to an official union, but they are organized or protected by statutes.  The pensioned proletariat are eligible for Social Security benefits, but will also receive another type of pension.  The return on their pension (excluding Social Security) is dependent on the success of the capital investment. Their primary strategy is the successful negotiation for the highest possible wages.  If their wages are linked to the continued success of capitalistic economy, then they will advocate for the success of capitalism as a secondary strategy.

4) Unpensioned Proletariat -- these workers do not belong to a union.   They do not have pension to supplement Social Security benefits.   Some of  these workers are not eligible  for Social Security nor  any  other  type  of  pension.   Unlike the pensioned proletariat, the unpensioned proletariat have no formal strategy to pursue their material interest.  If the stock market crashes, they may not notice the change in the economy.  Their primary strategy is to pressure the State to increase Social Security and welfare benefits.

5) Lumpenproletariat -- their subsistence needs can not be met with their ability to sell their labor or by personal wealth.  Their primary source of revenue emerges from private and public welfare payments.  Their primary strategy is to pressure the State to increase welfare benefits.

To restate the issue, which model of social class offers a better understanding of social injustice?