Essay Writing Help on Class


Class defines the hierarchical divisions of the society with reference to social and economic status. While social status, as a form of classification was commonplace in the Victorian period, class has over time changed with foundation on the economic status. Class today, therefore, hinges on the economic might of an individual, a phenomenon that became rooted during the industrial revolution as England, and later the rest of the world, changed from primarily agricultural economies to industrial economies (Hunt & Sherman, 2002). The establishment of class is a consequence of the triumph of liberal capitalism following the industrial revolution, which began in England. With abundance in labor and therefore competitive advantage over other countries, the adoption of liberal capitalism became the birthplace of class given the new liberal ideologies, which created a political and intellectual atmosphere fostering the growth of the factory system, and with it class (Hunt & Sherman, 2002). Currently, the most common hierarchical division of humans puts them in upper, middle and lower classes, largely dependent on the economic power one wields.

At the helm of the classes is the upper class, which wields the strongest economic power. According to Marxism, these are the exploiters, most of whom own the means of production and the proceeds from the production process (Hunt & Sherman, 2002). The middle class is in between the lower and upper class, and although they enjoy considerably better fortunes than the lower class, they are not as prominent and advantaged as the upper class. The lower class is the lowest of the classes. These are largely workers, who Marxism contends work more than they are paid for, with most of their work enriching the upper class, who own the means of production (Hunt & Sherman, 2002). Class therefore denotes the socioeconomic status of individuals according to the economic power they wield, in addition to defining individuals with similar social and educational status.

At the very base of class is property, which plays an instrumental part in the definition of class. Marxism puts the upper class as the possessors of means of production and the goods produced (Hunt & Sherman, 2002). These means of production are mainly property in form of land, money and factories where manufacturing takes place. Three of the very basic aspects of classare that class is a particular causal component of events chanced by life, which rest entirely on economic interests and wealth, and which have a representation within labor conditions and commodity markets. Therefore, the ownership of material resources, amassed by advantage within the marketplace translates in unique qualities in the status of living (class).

To elucidate the advantage of property and its role in defining class, Hunt and Sherman(2002) in “Socialist protest Amid the Industrial Revolution” indicate that property owners (most of who were aristocrats and bourgeoisie) could hire workers at low wages and exploit them at the worksite. Hunt and Sherman (2002), continue to explain that scores of workers were dependent on the benevolence of the upper class, with only a few of these workers escaping industrial capitalism, only by accessing the means of production (property). Inferring to these points to the fact that property indeed played and continues to play a definitive role in human hierarchical division (class).

The definitive nature of property in class, in addition to its importance as a means of production is evident in the years after the French Revolution. While the revolution was successful in ending feudalism, it brought with it capitalism, which transformed land into a commodity (Hunt & Sherman, 2002). Turing land into a commodity, and therefore the need to pay rates on it, forced many of the peasants into the industrial centers, where they earned meagre wages. Property (land), a traditional commodity, under the new capitalism became an important factor of production and a definitive feature of social and economic class.

Indeed, even today, possession of property is descriptive of class difference. Property owners have an upper hand, and sometimes monopoly, on the happenings within commodity markets, particularly labor. These owners have advantaged access to wealth creation sources, by their position in owning and controlling the markets. Thus, while entrepreneurs employ wealth (in property) in moneymaking ventures, proprietors earn interest on their property through rent or investments. On the other hand, those without property provide labor, with classification and wage difference, according to the level of skills each of these properties-less class presents to the commodity market. Therefore, even as the state provides protection to private property while remaining at the peripheries of market operations (Hunt & Sherman, 2002); it is evident that property plays a definitive role in the socioeconomic stratification of humans.

With ownership of capital goods and means of production among the capitalists, especially in the adoption of liberal capitalism, there became an evident change in the relationship between workers and the capitalists. Hunt and Sherman (2002) in “Socialist Protest amid the Industrial Revolution” indicate a constrained relationship between the worker and the capitalist, a state that has persisted to date. With the coming of the factory system, the worker’s traditional way of life underwent annihilation, giving to birth a completely new relationship. Gone were the pride and the close relationship with the employer, and in was a relationship based on an impersonal market (Hunt & Sherman, 2002). The access to the means of production vanished as the workers were diminished to sheer labor sellers, reliant on the market conditions (Hunt & Sherman, 2002).

Even though this was the case after the industrial revolution and the adoption of liberal capitalism, not much has changed in the capitalists-workers relationship. Like the postindustrial Europe in the factory system where workers were required to be specialized, work under the clock, be regular and work to reduce the cost of production while increasing outputs, with a machine dictated pace of work (Hunt & Sherman, 2002), similar working conditions and relationships exist today. Workers in Chinese production facilities for electronics, consumer goods and apparels have to work round the clock with meager pay all for the production of goods for the fast fashion and fast electronics’ production cycles. It also still commonplace to find factories with women and children working in the current labor markets, even as many human rights activists and organizations fight to champion the rights of these workers, as well as stop child labor in the production facilities.

Many works, through the influence of socialism, joined trade union as a means of championing their rights and agitation for better pay and working conditions (Hunt & Sherman, 2002). While these are currently present as in pilot’s unions, most of the unions have gone cold and weaker as most people shy away from socialism as fronted by Marxism (Hunt & Sherman, 2002), with workers opting for individual bargaining for their working terms and remunerations.

Keynesianism, on the other hand, defines the capitalists-working class relationship as a struggle between the two for economic power. Thus, while the working class wants higher wages to increase their purchasing power, as well as tip the balance of power from the capitalists to the workers, the capitalists are looking at making higher profits while reducing the economic power of the workers (Hunt & Sherman, 2002). This struggle has prompted the adoption of economic policies that favor the capitalist while undermining the workers. Most of the trade unions are almost voiceless in the US that is largely capitalist than in Europe that still has elements of socialism. The ideas here (in the US) is to claw as much power as possible from the workers while giving more power to the capitalists to control the labor market, economy and the terms of employment for the working class.

Within the struggle between the working class and the capitalists is the middle class falling in between the feuding classes. Over the past decades, the middle class, particularly in the Western technology economy has been swelling. Much of the middle class is the educated elite. These act as the referees in the class struggle between the working class and the capitalists. The middle class is largely the greatest consumer of the goods produced, given their considerably higher income. Moreover, in their capacity as referees, the middle class ensures the formulation and execution of policies, which would deter political intervention within the market economies, yet still offer protection to private property while guaranteeing equal rights to the citizens (Hunt & Sherman, 2002).

The middle class additionally are the protectors of the capitalists forming a bridge between the capitalists and the working class. Largely, the middle class does this by either being a mini-capitalist by providing employment to the working class on behalf of the capitalist, or through supervision. Thus, while Marxism looks at the workers as being exploited (Hunt & Sherman, 2002); it is the work of the middle class to supervise the exploitation of the working class. By supervising this relationship between the working class and the capitalist, the middle class checks the balance of power, ensuring that it does not tilt towards the working class. This, according to Keynesianism is necessary to maintain balance within the economic realm, maintain capitalism, while at the same time ensuring the stability of economies dependent on maintenance of such a balance (Hunt & Sherman, 2002).

The idea of class has a long history and continues to raise debate about its existence. While social status and heredity determined class in the feudal era, the advent of capitalism has changed the very idea of class. Economic power today determines one’s class. This social stratification is founded on the amount of economic power one wields measured in property and other factors of production, and therefore the influence one can have on others. The relationship between capitalist and the workers has not changed much in comparison with its state after the industrial revolution. The struggle between the two (agitation for better wages and working conditions against better profits) continues, even as workers, especially in the US, have less of a voice in the weakened trade unions. The middle class on the other hand, provides balance between the capitalists and the working class, ensuring maintenance of the status quo.


Hunt, E. K. & Sherman, H., J. (2002). Property and Prophets: The Evolution of Economic Institutions and Ideologies. M.E. Sharpe