The Blackcoated Worker: A Study in Class Consciousness

The Blackcoated Worker: A Study in Class Consciousness

The Blackcoated Worker: A Study in Class Consciousness

The Blackcoated Worker: A Study in Class Consciousness

Excerpt

This book forms part of the long-term research into social stratification which is being carried out at the London School of Economics in conjunction with similar studies in other countries under the auspices of the International Sociological Association. The framework of the British programme of investigation was indicated in a symposium published four years ago--Social Mobility in Britain, edited by D. V. Glass--which focused on the general problems of social differentiation and mobility. Since then there has been a series of studies whose aim has been to examine in greater detail the process of educational selection and also the position of particular occupational groups in the class structure. Falling into the latter category, and most closely related to the present work, are R. K. Kelsall 's Higher Civil Servants in Britain, 1955, and A. Tropp's The School Teachers, 1957. Both these books were the outcome of the original research intention to concentrate on the problems of recruitment, social status and professional organization in middleclass occupations that play an important part in the national power structure or in the process of social mobility. It is in this sense also that clerical workers constitute a rewarding subject of study, though one which has been curiously neglected since the publication of F. D. Klingender's The Condition of Clerical Labour in Britain in 1935. Clerical work has always been the major channel of upward social mobility from the working to the middle class. And, because of their highly marginal position and sheer numerical strength, the class identification of clerical workers raises important issues for the study of industrial and political behaviour. In this book, I have traced the reaction of clerks to the working-class movement, and tried to show how changes in their economic position, working relationships and social status have affected their class consciousness and the nature and intensity of their trade-union activities.

My work has benefited from the comments of Professor Asa Briggs, Mrs J. E. Floud and Professor D. V. Glass. On the general problems of social stratification I have had the stimulus of many discussions with Dr R. Dahrendorf and Dr A. Tropp. Among the persons who have patiently answered my questions or provided facilities for research, I should like to thank the following: Mr Alec Spoor, Public Relations Officer of the National and Local Government Officers Association; Mr T. G. Edwards, General Secretary of the National Union of Bank Employees . . .

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