Because there are a lot of ways in which the term working class is defined, explained and contextualised especially with the economic changes brought by deindustrialisation in particular, this paper aims to critically evaluate the concept of working class in modern Britain.
Both the classical traditions in sociological theory, Marx and Weber, had different approaches on studying groups and class of society. According to Kirby et al. (2001: 638 – 684), Marx basically argued that the capitalist system is responsible for the inequality in social classes. In Marxist theory, the social classes are determined by the relationship of individuals to the means of productions. An individual can own the means of production or otherwise, but instead, work for the productive property. For Marx, the society is composed of two (2) primary classes such as the bourgeoisie who owns the means of production and the proletariat who is in need of selling his or her labour power to those who have control over the means of production. In his terms, the proletariat or the working class is the wage labourer who has to be exploited in the capitalist system because of the commodities that control his or her everyday life.
According to Edgell (1993: 2 – 10), the conflict theory perceives the stratification in the society as beneficial and advantageous only to the bourgeoisie class. This group has the power and control to dominate and exploit the labour power of individuals in order to accumulate wealth. Given the unequal distribution of wealth in the capitalist system, this perspective views that the grounds for class struggle lie in the capitalist urge to become conscious of surplus value. These tensions would lead to social disorder leading to its own destruction. The proletariats would strive for equality and freedom from the bourgeoisies.
Meanwhile, in contrast to Marx, Weber’s analysis of class has similarity to Marx’s