Readings in Labor Economics & Industrial Relations

Readings in Labor Economics & Industrial Relations

Readings in Labor Economics & Industrial Relations

Readings in Labor Economics & Industrial Relations

Excerpt

Investigations by different qualified observers point to the conclusion that the American society is rapidly becoming a stratified society. The relative social fluidity which characterized the nineteenth century is giving way to a culture composed of distinct and rather easily identifiable classes. These class distinctions are primarily, although perhaps not exclusively, a function of the occupations of the people. Thus, as both Bakke and Centers point out, a working class composed of skilled, semiskilled, and unskilled manual employees is now prevalent in America. And this working class has attitudes and views different from those of the other classes in the community, as Centers emphasizes.

The development of a working class with attitudes and viewpoints of its own is not the doing solely, or even primarily, of propaganda by "intellectuals" or "New Dealers," as so many citizens would have us believe. Such indoctrination, while perhaps a necessary condition, is hardly enough. For the appeals of the "intellectuals" and the "New Dealers" would have fallen on deaf ears if the workers had found such appeals totally inconsistent with their own experience. But precisely because the worker's experience has dictated an outlook and an ideology conducive to a working-class consciousness, the appeals of the "intellectuals" and the "New Dealers" have fallen on most receptive ears. The various facets of this experience are developed at length by Bakke, but it is important to emphasize that his findings relate to the 1930's, when working-class consciousness was already more or less crystallized. What remains unanswered is, Why was there no such working class during the nineteenth century?

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