The Theory of a Working Class: a Re-Appreciation of Ralf Dahrendorf
- 123 Downloads
Competing social theories defining “working class” can be tested against the reality of trade union membership. Only Dahrendorf’s is a good match. He follows Marx and Weber by requiring the economic need to work, but additionally requires that such work be in jobs lacking authority, jobs at the bottom of the workplace hierarchy in which one takes orders from those above, but has no one below to give orders to. This definition can be used to predict working class behaviors other than forming unions including the general lack of support for revolutionary change and a classless society while still giving support for issues of social justice. Support for underdogs is evident among union members because membership fosters the recognition of one’s own underdog role. The importance of unions’ role in social justice generally is evident in the relationship between union strength and income equality.
KeywordsUnions Catholicism Marxism Labor history Worker empowerment Income equality
I wish to thank my wife, June McMahon, for her assistance and encouragement. Kathleen Sheldon, Nick Builder, and Sheila O’Rourke provided invaluable feedback and critiques. As always, I am grateful for the comments and editorial assistance of former newspaperman and colleague Robert Dudnick.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The author declares that he has no conflicts of interest.
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by either of the authors. There were no individual participants in this study and, thus, informed consent does not apply to this study.
- Apostolou, A. (2000). Employee involvement. Dissemination of innovation and knowledge management techniques. www.urenio.org/tools/en/employee_involvement.pdf. Accessed 21 Nov 2015.
- Barkin, N. (2012). Steinbruck surprise shakes up German election race. http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/09/28/germany-spd-steinbrueck-idINL5E8KS5SK20120928. Accessed 1 Nov 2015.
- Benassi, C. & Durazzi, N. (2014). Matteo Renzi must work with Italian trade unions rather than against them if he is serious about reforming Italy’s labour market. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2014/11/17/matteo-renzi-must-work-with-italian-trade-unions-rather-than-against-them-if-he-is-serious-about-reforming-italys-labour-market/. Accessed 1 Nov 2015.
- Berghahn, V., & Karsten, D. (1989). Industrial relations in West Germany. Oxford: Berg.Google Scholar
- Bloch, M.. (1961). Feudal society (2 volumes). (trans: Manyon, L.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- BLS. (2015). Union Members in 2004. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/union2_01272005.pdf. Accessed 12 Nov 2015.
- BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). (2012). http://www.bls.gov/cps/minwage2005tbls.htm#1. Accessed Feb 11, 2012.
- Bottomore, T. (1965). Classes in modern society. London: George Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
- Bourdieu, P.. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste (trans: Nice, R.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Carroll, L. (2001). Through the looking glass and what Alice found there. New York: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
- CGT (Confédération générale du travail ) (2007). Non à une politique d’immigration, non seulement choisie, mais aussi discriminatoire. http://www.cgt.fr/spip.php?page=imprimir_articulo&id_article=2518. Accessed 22 Sep 2015.
- CGT (Confédération générale du travail) (2011). Aide à l’autonomie ou handicap. http://www.cgt.fr/spip.php?page=imprimir_rubrique&id_rubrique=1390. Accessed 22 Sep 2015.
- Cole, G. (1922). Non-manual trade unionism. The North American Review, 215(794), 38–45.Google Scholar
- COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions). (2015). COSATU strongly welcomes the President’s signing of the Maintenance Amendment into law. http://www.cosatu.org.za/docs/pr/2015/pr0910a.html. Accessed 22 Sep 2015.
- CUT (Central Unitaria de Trabajadores). (2014). La CUT y los cambios que Chile necesita. http://www.cut.cl/Portal/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2385:documento-qla-cut-y-los-cambios-que-chile-necesitaq&catid=306:cdna-2014&Itemid=553. Accessed 22 Sep 2015.
- Dahrendorf, R. (1959). Class and class conflict in industrial society. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- De Toqueville, A. (2000). Democracy in America, volume 1. (trans: Mansfield, H. and Winthrop, D.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- de Waal, F. (1996). Good natured: The origins of right and wrong in humans and other animals. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Die Welt. (2012). “DGB-Chef distanziert sich von Peer Steinbrück.” http://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article109810928/DGB-Chef-distanziert-sich-von-Peer-Steinbrueck.html. Accessed 1 Nov 2015.
- Dulles, F. (1966). Labor in America: A history. New York: Thomas Y. Cromwell.Google Scholar
- Dyson, R. (2002). St. Thomas Aquinas Political Writings. Cambridge, Cambridge University.Google Scholar
- Festinger, L. (1957). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Fogel, R. (1987). Some notes on the scientific methods of Simon Kuznets. National Bureau of Economic Research. http://www.nber.org/papers/w2461.pdf. Accessed 2 Nov 2015.
- Freeman, J. (1972-1973). The tyranny of structurelessness. Berkeley Journal of Sociology, 17, 151–164.Google Scholar
- Freeman, R., & Medoff, J. (1984). What do unions do? New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Friedman, M., & Friedman, R. (1980). Free to choose: A personal statement. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
- Fukuyama, F. (2011). The origins of political order: From prehuman times to the French revolution. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
- Fussell, P. (1992). Class: A guide through the American status system. New York: Touchstone.Google Scholar
- Gelles, D. (2015). Pushing shoes and a vision. New York Times, July 19.Google Scholar
- Glazer, J. (2002). Labor’s troubador. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
- Gordon, M. (1963). Social class in American sociology. New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
- Greenhouse, S. (2016). Can labor still turn out the vote? New York Times. March 4.Google Scholar
- Grenier, G. (1988). Quality circles in a corporate antiunion strategy: A case study. Labor Studies Journal, 24, 5–27.Google Scholar
- Hacker, J., & Pierson, P. (2010). Winner-take-all politics: How Washington made the rich richer – And turned its back on the middle class. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
- Harwood, J. (2008). The white working class: Forgotten voters no more. New York Times, May 26.Google Scholar
- Hayek, F. (1991). Economic freedom. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Hirsch, J. (2011). Who wants a union? Not Southern autoworkers, it seems. Los Angeles Times, May 26.Google Scholar
- Hirschman, A. (1970). Exit, voice, and loyalty: Responses to decline in firms, organizations, and states. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Jaumotte, F. & Osorio Buitron, C. (2015). Power from the people. Finance & Development, 52. Available at http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2015/03/jaumotte.htm.Accessed 28 Oct 2015.
- Jones, O. (2012). Chavs: The demonization of the working class. London: Verso.Google Scholar
- Kevles, D. (2003). Here comes the master race. New York Times, October 5.Google Scholar
- Kingston, P. (2000). The classless society. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Konrad, A. (2006). Engaging employees through high-involvement work practices. Ivey Business Journal, http://www.jwalkonline.org/docs/Grad%20Classes/Fall%2007/Org%20Develop/presentation/ARTICLES/engage%20employ%20highinvolve%20work%20prac.pdf. Accessed 21 Nov 2015.
- Larson, S., & Nissen, B. (1987). Theories of the labor movement. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.Google Scholar
- Lenin, V. (1970). What is to be done? In: Lenin: Selected Works (3 volumes). Moscow: Progress Publishers.Google Scholar
- Lenski, G. (1984). Power and privilege: A theory of social stratification. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar
- Leo, Pope XIII. (1891). Rerum novarum: On the condition of the working classes. www.osjspm.org/majordoc_rerum_novarum_official.aspx. Accessed 18 May 2009.
- Levison, A. (1974). The Working-Class Majority. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
- Long, G. (2013). Differences between union and nonunion compensation, 2001–2011. Monthly Labor Review, Bureau of Labor Statistics, April, 16–23. Available at http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2013/04/art2full.pdf. Accessed 23 Jan 2014.
- Lynd, R., & Lynd, H. (1929). Middletown. New York: Harcourt, Brace.Google Scholar
- Marx, K. (1952). Manifesto of the communist party. Moscow: Progress Publishers.Google Scholar
- Marx, K. (1958). Theories of surplus value, part I. London: Lawrence & Wishart.Google Scholar
- Marx, K. (1967). Capital: A critique of political economy, Vol. III. New York: International Publishers.Google Scholar
- McKillop, A. (1921). Trends in management: Is there any movement toward organizing foremen? Factory: The Magazine of Management, 27, 52–53.Google Scholar
- Morber, J. (2007). Trade unions and the law – History and a way forward? History and Policy. http://www.historyandpolicy.org/policy-papers/papers/trade-unions-and-the-law-history-and-a-way-forward. Accessed 1 Nov 2015.
- Morton, A., & Tate, G. (1956). The British labour movement, 1770–1920: A history. Old Woking: Unwin Brothers.Google Scholar
- NUMSA (National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa) (2012). http://www.numsa.org.za/article/union-leadership-and-women-2012-04-22/. Accessed 20 Nov 2015.
- OECD. (2016). http://www.oecd.org/social/income-distribution-database.htm. Accessed 15 Oct 2016.
- OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). (2015). https://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=UN_DEN. Accessed 27 Oct 2015.
- Olson, M. (1965). The logic of collective action: Public goods and the theory of groups. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Parris, M., & Vickers, M. (2005). Working in teams: The influence of rhetoric – From sensemaking to sadness. Administration and Praxis, 27, 277–300.Google Scholar
- Peck, S. M. (1963). The rank-and-file leader. New Haven: College and University Press.Google Scholar
- Penney, R. A. (2004). Workers against unions: Union organizing and anti-union countermobilizations. In R. Milkman & K. Voss (Eds.), Rebuilding labor: Organizing and organizers in the new union movement. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
- Piketty, T. (2015). Capital in the twenty-first century. (trans: Goldhammer, A.). Cambridge: Belknap Press.Google Scholar
- Piketty, T., & Saez, E. (2007). How progressive is the U.S. federal tax system? A historical and international perspective. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 21, 13 Available at http://elsa.berkeley.edu/~saez/piketty-saezJEP07taxprog.pdf. Accessed 12 Feb 2012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Povoledo, E. (2014). In test for premier, Italians rally against plan to relax labor rules. New York Times, Nov. 18.Google Scholar
- Przeworski, A., & Wallerstein, M. (2008). The structure of class conflict in democratic capitalist societies. In D. Austen-Smith et al. (Eds.), Selected works of Michael Wallerstein: The political economy of inequality, unions, and social democracy (pp. 18–57). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Ra, J. (1978). Labor at the polls: Union voting in presidential elections, 1952–1976. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.Google Scholar
- Savage, M., et al. (2013). A new model of social class: Findings from the BBC’s great British class survey experiment. Sociology, 47, 1–32 http://soc.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/03/12/0038038513481128. Accessed 2 May 2013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Scheuerman, W. (1996). The rule of law under siege: Selected essays of Franz L. Neumann and Otto Kirchheimer. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Schorske, K. (1955). German social democracy, 1905–1917: The development of the great schism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Seidman, J., London, J., Karsh, B., & Tagliacozzo, D. (1958). Membership reaction to political action in six local unions. In C. Rehmus & D. McLaughlin (Eds.), Labor and American politics (pp. 403–409). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
- Smith, R. & Vavrichek, B. (1987). The minimum wage: Its relation to incomes and poverty. Monthly Labor Review, Bureau of Labor Statistics, June. 24–30. Available at http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0774473.html. Accessed 14 Jan 2014.
- Statistics Canada (2016), http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75-006-x/2013001/article/11878-eng.htm. Accessed 15 May 2016.
- Stearns, P. (1975). Lives of labor: Work in a maturing industrial society. New York: Holmes and Meier.Google Scholar
- Stokes, D. (1967). Voting research and the labor vote. In C. Rehmus & D. McLaughlin (Eds.), Labor and American politics (pp. 348–391). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
- Taylor, R. (1978). The fifth estate: Britain’s unions in the modern world. London: Pan Books.Google Scholar
- Thompson, E. (1963). The making of the English working class. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
- Troy, L. (1965). Trade union membership, 1897–1962. http://www.nber.org/chapters/c1707. Accessed 12 Nov 2015.
- TUC (Trades Union Congress). (2015). Women and equalities committee transgender inquiry. https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/WomenandEqualitiesCommitteeTransInquiry.pdf. Accessed 22 Sep 2015.
- United States Census Bureau. (2014). Gini indexes for households. https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/household/2014/h04.xls. Accessed 12 Nov 2015.
- United States Census Bureau. (2015). https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/families/. Accessed 1 Oct 2015.
- Vogt, M., et al. (2009). Professional and managerial staff in Europe and their trade unions in the 21st Century (2nd edition). Brussels: Eurocadres. Available at http://www.eurocadres.org/IMG/pdf/Brochure_Cadres_en_UE_EN.pdf. Accessed 5 October 2015.
- Warner, W. (1958). A black civilization: A social study of an Australian tribe. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
- Warner, W., & Associates. (1949). Democracy in Jonesville. New York: Harper and Brothers.Google Scholar
- Warner, W., & Lunt, P. (1941). The social life of a modern community. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Weber, M. (1969). Economy and society (2 volumes). Berkeley: University of Southern California Press.Google Scholar
- Weeks, J. (2005). Inequality trends in some developed OECD countries, DESA Working Paper No. 6, ST/ESA/2005/DWP/6. Available at http://www.un.org/esa/desa/papers/2005/wp6_2005.pdf. Accessed 6 Feb 2012.
- Wolfe, A. (1969). Trends in labor union voting behavior. Industrial Relations, 9, 1–10.Google Scholar