DW Livingstone and Antonie Scholtz
Capital & Class, Volume 40, Issue 3, October 2016
Recent approaches to class analysis in advanced capitalism have been largely disconnected from the capitalist labour process. This paper has three basic goals. First, we suggest a composite Marxist model of current class structure grounded in ownership, managerial authority, specialized knowledge and value relations in the capitalist labour process. Secondly, this model is used for an empirical assessment of continuity and change in class structure, based on a series of national surveys in Canada in the period 1982–2010. Thirdly, using the same series of surveys, we use this model of class structure to evaluate the extent to which employment class positions are relevant for understanding shifting expressions of class consciousness. Within the employed labour force in this particular advanced capitalist country, we find a generally declining conventional working class and expanding proportions of managerial and professional employees. Connections between employment class positions and class consciousness can involve complex mediations. Evidence for the persistence of strong hegemonic consciousness among corporate capitalists is provided by an additional unique series of surveys. This persistence contrasts with declining working class identity and increasingly mixed class consciousness among most other employment class positions. However, pro-labour oppositional consciousness is found to dominate among unionized industrial workers and professional employees in the private goods-producing sector, who may be among the most directly exploited workers in value terms in an emergent ‘knowledge economy’. The findings suggest the continuing relevance of pursuing class analyses based on production relations in advanced capitalist economies.