The New Working Class? White-Collar Workers and their by Richard Hyman, Robert Price

By Richard Hyman, Robert Price

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By Richard Hyman, Robert Price

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Weber went on to argue that class position provided no necessary basis for collective action: whether or not members of a class recognized common interests and acted upon these was 'linked to general cultural conditions, especially to those of an intellectual sort'. 27 More universally the source of conscious common identity was 'status groups', defined in terms of 'a specific, positive or negative, social estimation of honour' and associated with 'a specific style of life'. 28 Weberian categories and arguments have proved a valuable resource for sociologists whose central focus has been the complexity of modern class relations: not least because the brevity of Weber's own discussion allows considerable scope for interpretation; and also because, in the political climate in which academic sociology expanded, Weber represented a more respectable intellectual authority than Marx.

First, the notion of an 'economic identification' of class abstracted from a general analysis and definition is confused and mechanical. Secondly, the theoretical distinction between capitalist and worker functions cannot be applied as a simple dichotomy for the purposes of detailed analysis; in practice, argues Johnson, Carchedi's arguments are akin to those of conventional sociologists such as Dahrendorf. And thirdly, whatever the value of his work for the analysis of occupations directly involved within the sphere of production, Carchedi provides only the most diffuse guide to understanding those outside.

302. 34. , pp. 304-5. 35. This arbitrary demarcation is applied uncritically, and even more crudely, by Frank Parkin in Class Inequality and Political Order. As already noted, he regards modern societies as simple dichotomies of two classes, blue- and white-collar, differentiated by a 'line of cleavage ... in the reward position' (p. 25). This dichotomy holds good, he insists, despite the internal differentiations within each group and the considerable overlap in reward position. 36. Thus H. H.

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