Communist Party USA

  Who, or what, is the “middle class”? Most people identify themselves as middle class, but what does that mean, and what difference does it make? This article’s first focus is on the concept of middle class, especially the way people understand it and use it, from the perspectives of those who answer survey questions to the analysts who study social inequality. The way “class” is defined and used has the effect of rendering some social processes invisible. Second, Marxist analysis offers a much different conception of class, one that brings to light social dynamics hidden in the bourgeois perspective. Third, what are the material conditions and consciousness of the U.S. “middle class” today, and what are the political pressures that are bearing down on different segments of the economy? Economists, pollsters, and many policy researchers define class with reference simply to individuals’ or households’ annual income. For example, the…

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Understanding the “middle class”