Limitations of class theory and the disappearance of status

The problem of the new middle class

Jack Barbalet*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)


Through a brief examination of neo-Marxist and neo-Weberian arguments it is demonstrated that the class nature of the new middle class has yet to be established. The paper goes on to show that as well as differences arising out of material conditions (i.e. class differences), inequalities based on expectations of entitlement or norms are also significant in capitalist society. Weber's treatment of status has not encouraged an adequate understanding of the concept, and an alternative is outlined. The paper then argues that the differences between the so-called new middle class and the working class are reasonably understood on a number of criteria as differences between status groups which form part of a single class. Not only does this approach remove a number of difficulties from accounts of the salariat, it also helps explain the different political alignments of social collectivities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-575
Number of pages19
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1986

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