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Toward a theory of global proletarian fractions

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Toward a theory of global proletarian fractions
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Struna, Jason
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Globalization -- Social aspects ( lcsh )
Proletariat ( lcsh )
Social classes ( lcsh )
Globalization -- Social aspects ( fast )
Proletariat ( fast )
Social classes ( fast )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 85-90).
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Department of Sociology
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by Jason Struna.

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Full Text
TOWARD A THEORY OF GLOBAL PROLETARIAN FRACTIONS
by
Jason Struna

B.A. Metropolitan State College of Denver, 2003
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Sociology
2008


This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Jason Struna
has been approved
by
Akihiko Hirose
Karl Flaming
inn
Date


Struna, Jason Y. (Master of Arts, Sociology)
Toward a Theory of Global Proletarian Fractions
Thesis directed by Akihiko Hirose, Assistant Professor
ABSTRACT
Globalization provides the material basis for the existence of a global
proletariat. However, the worldwide working class is not homogeneous.
The global proletarian class is fractionated on the basis of workers physical
mobility relative to nation-states and regions, as well as the geographic
scope of workers labor-power expenditure relative to the circuits of
production in which they are engaged. On that basis, three transnational
fractions of the global working class are observed: The dynamic-global, the
static-global, and the diasporic-global; and three local or national fractions
of the global working class are observed, including the dynamic-local, the
static-local, and the diasporic-local. This thesis reviews sociological
theories of class, the globalization of class, and global working class
fractions. A typology of global proletarian fractions is provided.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
Signed
Akihiko Hirose


TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION...............................................1
2. SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIES OF CLASS.........................10
Marx and Weber.........................................14
Class Decomposition and Stratification.................24
Synthetic Approaches...................................31
The Marxian New Middle Class and Perspectives on
Fractionation..........................................37
Moving Beyond the Nation-State: World-Systems, and the
Global Capitalist School...............................46
3. THE GLOBALIZATION OF CLASS: GLOBAL WORKING CLASS
FRACTIONS.................................................57
Global Social Formations...............................57
The Labor-Capital Relation and the Global Proletariat:
Simple Reproduction..................................61
The Fractions..........................................65
The Dynamic-Global Fraction............................66
The Static-Global Fraction.............................68
The Diasporic-Global Fraction..........................70
IV


The Dynamic-Local Fraction
The Static-Local Fraction.
72
74
The Diasporic-Local Fraction........................75
4. CONCLUSION: THE FRACTIONS AND DIRECTIONS FOR FUTURE
RESEARCH..................................................78
APPENDIX
A. TYPOLOGY OF GLOBAL WORKING CLASS FRACTIONS ....84
REFERENCES......................................85
v


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Let me explain by introducing Gabriel Rozman a Jewish
technologist of Hungarian roots who was raised in Uruguay,
educated in America and now heads the Latin American
operations of Indias biggest software/ outsourcing company,
Tata Consulting Services of Bombay. [The imperative is to]
follow the sun, he said. We like to start a project in
Bangalore or Bombay [sic], then as the day moves on, move
it to our offices in Eastern Europe, and then to Latin
America. Tata expects its engineers in each place to be
equally trained, speak English and have computing
infrastructure to seamlessly receive and hand off projects.
This is a global-scale business. (Friedman 2006)
Friedmans (2006) column highlights two tendencies linked to
globalization: first, that human beings themselves are physically mobile, that
border-crossing is more common and easier than ever for some people', and second,
that even if a specific human being does not physically cross a border, participation
in transnational production processes like the one described above ensures that a
persons labor-power does. Workers in transnational production chains contribute
incrementally and cumulatively to the creation of commodities that range from
software to automobiles, and from food to fuel. The parts of a cellular phone may
be created from components that derive from China, Israel, and the UK, and may
be assembled by workers from Indonesia, Mexico, and Turkey in factories in
California, Taiwan, or South Africa. The global division of labor creates
1


interdependencies on the part of capital that operate across borders and within
firms, as documented by Dicken (1996), Robinson (2004), and others (Cox 1996a;
Sklair 1999), but it also creates interdependencies and relationships on the part of
workers as well.
As Robinson (2002) remarks, globalisation has involved a profound and
comprehensive restructuring of the world productive apparatus, including the
nature of the world production process and of work... (Robinson 2002:1060). In
fact, he continues, globalization as a set of unfolding social practices can be
identified as the global fragmentation and decentralisation of what were once
national productive processes, the dismantling of national economies and
construction of a single global production system (Robinson 2002: 1060). In other
words, globalization represents the expansion of productive economic activity to
more-than-national contexts, and thus constitutes a new stage of capitalist
development (Laibman 2005; Robinson 1998).1
So what does the globalisation of production itself, or the expansion of
business to the global-scale imply for the concept of class? How do these global
interdependencies affect class theory? While Embong (2000) admonishes us not to
assume the formation of transnational classes just because there are domestic
classes that serve in global forces of production (2000: 989), Sklair (2000)
2


instructs us that a transnational capitalist class based on the transnational
corporations is emerging that is more or less in control of the process of
globalization (2001: 5). However, Poulantzas (1975) maintains that classes exist
only in the context of broader and more determinant social formations like nation-
states and cultures. Although Poulantzas (1975) still asserts that the labor-capital
relation conditions class identification fairly completely, these social formations
have different effects on production relations in different societies. Still, Robinson
(2004), among others discussed below, maintains that the globalization of the
production process constitutes the material basis for transnational social formations
including classes; that economically and politically there is evidence that social
formations are themselves becoming global (Robinson 2004). Hence his insistence
on moving beyond nation-state paradigms (Robinson 1998). Except for positing
the material basis for a global working class that exists in relation to global capital
however (Robinson 2004), the global proletariat remains under explained and
undertheorized.
The globalization of production and concomitant social formations, the
existence of a transnational capitalist class, and the impact that specific social
contexts have on class relations requires us to carefully re-specify the concept of
class if it is going to retain meaning relative (especially) to subordinate groups 1
1 Briefly, the stages of capitalist development according to Laibman (2005) are Mercantilism,
Liberalism, Imperialism, and Globalism. From his perspective we are transitioning into the fourth,
3


globally. The ways in which the capitalist project has unfolded since the late 1960s
challenges as Cox (2003) puts it, the Marxist schema of the primacy of class-
oriented identities. The nineteenth- and early twentieth-century concepts of class
have been muddied by the emerging social structure (2003: 85). Cox (2003) is
correct issues with the concept of class derive from the actual changes that have
taken place since the collapse of the Keynesian compromise and the Soviet Union.
Liberalization, structural adjustments, austerity programs, welfare-reform, etc. in
short, national state and transnational state apparatus (Robinson 2004) projects
aimed at revitalizing the world capitalist project relative to the 1970s world-
economic crisis effectively dismantled the class compromise that labor and
capital struck in the Post-War era.
These emerging social structures create problems with class theory too: as
the conditions on the ground changed before our eyes and the capitalist system
began to reflect transnationalized relations of production, we were left only with
the skeleton of a class analysis based on historically specific, and now faded social
realities. The Midwest rustbelt may indicate the disappearance of industrial
production as the hegemonic mode of economic activity in the United States, but it
does not indicate the disappearance of the living, breathing workers who once acted
in the capacity of industrial proletarians. Workers in that context had to be
rearticulated (or not) into global forces of production in various ways often to the
global, stage.
4


detriment of their standard of living, as they became former union members who
took service sector jobs, for example. On the same hand, the activities associated
with industrial production did not disappear: they were merely relocated;
globalized by capital seeking to take advantage of wage differentials in different
regions of the globe. Thus the labor-capital relation itself may have shifted from an
internal relationship relative to nation-states and national classes, to a partially
external relationship relative to nation-states, but it still remains a labor-capital
relation.
We must not throw the baby out with the bath water, however. Class
analysis based on relations of production (the Marxist schema) in the global system
can be made relevant if the relations that workers share as a class are specified. We
can also still indicate the class orientation of individuals and groups in the global
system on the basis of objective criteria: labor-power expenditure for the
production of commodities on the part of one party in exchange for compensation
from another party who retains the product is indicative of a labor-capital relation
regardless of the distances in which such a relation is lived, and the rate and
national origin of compensation. While it is true to a degree that the working
class in its conventional meaning is now divided among the three levels of the
social hierarchy and these three components can be shown to have very divergent
5


interests (Cox 2003: 85), the global proletariat can also be shown to exhibit
similarities and convergent interests across its several fractions. As Cox (2003)
implicitly asserts, the working class remains a class even if its various
representatives enjoy various levels of (dis)comfort and (under/over)consumption.
My contention is that workers can be identified as such at various levels of
the hierarchy, and that the working class can again make sense this time in a
global system. First, the fact that the global proletariat is highly heterogeneous,
as are proletariats in national contexts, must be acknowledged (Robinson 2002:
1065). Sklair (2001) has shown with great efficacy that the Transnational
Capitalist Class is fractionated, that the fractions often overlap in practice (although
they are analytically distinct), and that the interests of the transnational fractions
often exist in contradiction to the interests of fractions of those that maintain
national orientations. A similar perspective on global working classes, one that is
able to analytically differentiate various strata while maintaining a view of the class
as a whole is necessary.
Second, the absolute mobility of workers should not be the only criterion
for their identification as either global or local/ national. It is true that insofar as
certain workers are required to cross borders flexibly (with legitimacy relative to
states) or inflexibly (with de jure illegitimacy relative to states) during the conduct
of their labor, they can be said to belong to a transnational fraction of the global
2
Lower, middle, and upper levels, presumably.
6


proletariat. Workers in such a fraction or fractions expend their labor-power in
cross-border contexts. That idea is not in dispute. However, the activities in which
certain other workers engage those whose productive activities are geographically
fixed, but whose products are geographically diffuse relative to firms and nation-
states indicate a degree of transnationality. Transnational production chains by
definition involve workers from different regions realizing labor-power in products
incrementally. If the direct relationship of labor to its products is the relationship
of the worker to the objects of his [sic] production (Marx 1974: 65), then the
relation of the worker to transnationally produced objects of production is a
transnational relation. Thus, even workers who do not cross borders still
participate in transnational relationships relative to one another, and relative to
capital as well.
Third, the fact that some workers are not transnational either physically or
by virtue of their participation in a transnational production chain does not preclude
their belonging to the global working class. Whether or not a worker is excluded or
only partially articulated into the global system does not indicate that a worker is
not dominated by the system. Generalized systemic diffusion (Laibman 2005)
indicates a world wide proletariat. Thus some fractions of the global proletariat
remain local in nature.
In this paper I propose that the fractional determination of workers in the
global system is dependent on two primary factors: first, on workers physical
7


mobility relative to nation-states and regions, i.e. whether the worker moves to the
point of production, or remains fixed relative to a point of production; and second,
on the geographic scope of workers labor-power expenditure relative to the
circuits in which they are engaged, i.e. whether the products move successively to
the worker (as in transnational production chains), or the products remain
geographically fixed (as with local production chains). Using these criteria, I
constructed a six-fraction typology of the global working class. The worldwide
proletariat can be analytically divided into dynamic-global, static-global, and
diasporic-global fractions that can collectively be conceived of as being
transnational; and dynamic-local, static-local, and diasporic-local fractions that can
generally be conceived of as national or local.
Before going any further into the nature of global proletarian fractions and
the utility of such a fractionated perspective, this paper reviews some of the
relevant sociological literature regarding class as a concept in order to theoretically
and historically locate the perspective I am developing here. These include the
classic treatments of class by Marx and Weber, theories of class decomposition
and stratification, synthetic (Marxian and Weberian) approaches, perspectives on
the Marxian new middle class and fractionation, and theories that emanate from
world-systems, and the global capital school. I then discuss global social
formations such as the transnational capitalist class, transnational corporations
(Sklair 2001; Robinson 2004), and the nascent transnational state apparatus
8


(Robinson 2004) in addition to the globalization of the labor-capital relation from
the perspective of simple reproduction (Marx 1992 [1893]). Finally, I present the
fractions of the global proletariat, as well as conclusions and directions for future
research. A typology of the global proletariat is also provided (Appendix A).
9


CHAPTER 2
SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIES OF CLASS
The following discussion of theories of class will first focus on Marx (1906;
1991 [1894]; 1992 [1893]; 2006 [1933]) and Weber (1964; 1998) in an effort to
provide both a foundation to those theories that come after the classical treatments,
and to make clear the relationship my own perspective on class has to Marx, and to
a lesser extent Weber. As Giddens (1975) states, the Marxian conception [of class]
inevitably produces a relatively simple portrayal of empirical class structure while
Weberian analysis is more complex (1975:100). Which is to say, the Marxian is
stricter, the Weberian is more flexible in terms of what actually counts for class
formation. Although my affinity is with the former stricter can mean more
elegant Webers importance to class analysis cannot be discounted. Indeed,
Weber represents simultaneously a continuation of, and a radical break with the
Marxian project sociologically. To get to positions after Marx we have to go
through Weber first.
Whereas it is true that no thorough assessment of class as a concept is
complete without at least a nod to these classics as a glance at volumes like Social
Stratification: Class, Race, and Gender in Sociological Perspective (Grusky 2001),
and Social Class and Stratification: Classic Statements and Theoretical Debates
(Levine 1998) attests, it is also true that Marx and Weber do not necessarily
10


provide the last word on the concept. Thus, in an effort to show the breadth of the
field of sociological theories of class I move from the classics to perspectives on
class decomposition and stratification exemplified by Davis and Moore (1998
[1945]), Dahrendorf (2001 [1959]), Clark and Lipset (2001), and Goldthorpe
(2007). In the least, such perspectives serve to highlight the idea that class can be
conceived in terms other than the labor-capital relation and/ or property holdings.
While I feel that such perspectives fundamentally miss the analytical mark by
relegating the relations of production to secondary or even tertiary significance as a
result of fragmentation of stratification (Clark and Lipset 2001: 52), class
decomposition (Dahrendorf 2001 [1959]), or differentials in educational attainment
(Goldthorpe 2007), their presence and persistence in sociological theory warrants at
least a mention here. Even if the non-Marxian theories of stratification fail to
address class formation and the world-/ global-systemic nature of the division of
labor, stratification perspectives reveal the variable nature of the manifestations of
class antagonism and the complexity of describing theoretically a contemporary
account of what class means.
I will then review those approaches to class that synthetically deal with the
implications of both Marxian and Weberian perspectives in a nuanced and holistic
manner, namely Giddens (1975), Parkin (1998 [1979]), and Wright (2005). While
my own perspective finds itself at odds with the Weberian tendencies that these
authors use to discuss class ideas like, mobility chances (Giddens 1975: 107),
11


closure (Parkin 1998 [1979]), and considerations of class formation centered
around issues of distribution (Wright 2005) the synthetic approach at least keeps
in mind production relations and their overdetermining role in class formation.
Although Wright (2005) is clearly a Marxist on some accounts, his tendencies to
ascribe importance to issues of status when analyzing exploitation relations can be
viewed, as Clark and Lipset (2001) maintain, as effectively blending the two
perspectives. Wright thus provides a transition into the discussion of Marxian
perspectives. Specifically, the Marxian approaches reviewed here concern theories
that at least nominally deal with the issue of fractionation, including Abercrombie
and Urry (1983), Carchedi (1987), Braverman (1998 [1974]), Mallet (1975), and
Poulantzas (1975). While none of these previous attempts provide a final word on
working class fractionation, and tend to devolve into discussions around the
formation of a new middle class they all suggest that the pursuit of a fractionated
perspective is necessary and desirable.
Finally, I will discuss those perspectives that move the concept of class out
of solely nation-state contexts and deal with class in a world-systemic vein, i.e.,
Arrighi, Hopkins, and Wallerstein (1985), and from the perspective of globalization
including, Robinson (1996; 2002; 2004), Sklair (1999; 2001), Cox (1996a; 1996b),
and Embong (2000). Again, however, none of these perspectives fully account for
the formation of a global proletariat. But by accounting for the world-system and
global capital school perspectives and their treatment of macro-systemic processes
12


like transnational state formation (Robinson 2004), the emergence of a
transnational capitalist class (Sklair 2001), and the at least partially theorized
existence of a subordinate counterpart to the transnational capitalist class
(Robinson 1996; Cox 1996a; Cox 1996b, Embong 2000) I am able to make clearer
my own perspective on global proletarian fractions and class formation in the
global system.
Much of the literature reviewed below emanates from perspectives on class
formation that were written in what I would call the golden era of class theory and
class analysis: namely that period that spans from Marx and Weber in the 19th and
early 20th Centuries, to approximately the mid-1970s. While I emphasize the
Marxian over the non-Marxian in the body of this paper those perspectives that
offer objective means of class ontogenesis and analysis based on the labor-capital
relation, as opposed to perspectives that seek subjective criteria for class formation
and/or reject the centrality of production to the concept of class -1 would like to
make it clear here that I have consciously set aside, except for occasional brief and
passing mentions, large portions of Marxist class theory.
This includes specifically, perspectives that span from prior to the Russian
Revolution (cf. Luxemburg 1999; Plekhanov 1969: 186), to the Interwar period (cf.
Lukacs 1971), to the Postwar period (cf. Marcuse 1967; Meszaros and Bottomore
1972) and beyond. While these perspectives may be theoretically cogent and
interesting treatments of class and class formation, they are often too historically
13


located and specific to be of relevance here. That is, they are often less
contributions to sociological discourse, than they are polemics internal to the
Marxist movements in which they were situated. This exclusion also pertains to
Lenin himself, insofar as he maybe regarded as revolutionary strategist and
tactician who sought to instantiate Marxian class theory into Soviet life not
specifically as a theorist of class. Lastly, as far as what will not be treated below, I
have chosen to exclude neo-imperialist accounts of late capitalism (Hardt and Negri
2001; Hardt and Negri 2004; Harvey 2006) that rely too heavily on what Robinson
calls nation-state centric thinking (Robinson 1998; Robinson 2008), and nation-
state-as-hegemon views of global capitalist development.
Marx and Weber
It is not enough to state that from the assumption of the primacy of
production flows the Marxist definition of class (Clark and Lipset 2001:40). The
specific linkages in the relations of production conditioned by the production of
commodities have to be made clear if only at first in an abstract and general
manner. In fact, capitalism itself is characterized by Marx as specifically relating
to the production of commodities objects produced specifically for exchange -
(not the production relation per se):
The wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of
production prevails, presents itself as an immense
accumulation of commodities, its unit being a single
14


commodity. Our investigation must therefore begin with the
analysis of a commodity. (Marx 1906: 41)
For Marx, the analysis of political economy begins not with the production process
itself, but with the objects being produced in their general, abstract form:
A commodity is, in the first place, an object outside us, a
thing that by its properties satisfies human wants of some
sort or another. The nature of such wants, whether... they
spring from the stomach or from fancy, makes no difference.
(Marx 1906: 41)
It is in the subsequent analysis of commodities that it is posited that ones relation
to this process of objectification as worker or as purchaser-recipient of labor-
power and the value advanced by it determines ones class relation (Marx, [1933]
2006). A member of the working class is defined as someone who sells his or her
labor-power as a commodity itself (to capital) for the purpose of commodity
production for a given amount of time. The buyer of labor-power so conceived,
who accumulates both private productive property and surplus value (value
advanced) on this basis is defined as a member of the capitalist class. As suggested
above, the specific form of the commodity is irrelevant the object can be either
material, a cog or a book, or the object can be immaterial, the engineers
description of a cog (intellectual property) or the contents of a book. Regardless,
these objects are the embodiment or objectification of human labor-power (Marx,
[1933] 2006), and their production in-itself conditions class relations.
15


In order to make the idea of the class relation relative to commodity
production more determinant, we turn to commodity circuits. Commodity circuits
refer to the process of commodity exchange and production in the abstract; to
Marxs conceptualization of the general formula for capital. The idea is that
under capitalism, money (M) is exchanged for commodities (Q and commodities
are then exchanged again for money, this time in a greater magnitude (M). The
circuit of capital (in general) is classically expressed as, M-C-M (Capital 168). For
our purposes, ultimately the determination of class relations in the global system, it
is useful to expand Marxs basic expression, M-C-M into M-C...P...C-M, as
Dicken has done in the spirit of Capital, Volume II (Marx 1992 [1893]), where
Money is used to purchase commodities (materials, labor).
These commodities are transformed by the process of
production [P, and C]. The monetary value of the original
commodities is enhanced. The increased money is used to
purchase ... [adinfinitum]. (1998: 180)
While this general circuit can be broken down conceptually into three distinct
circuits including the circuit of money capital, the circuit of productive capital,
and the circuit of commodity capital usually depending on the focus of
investigation it is important to remember that the distinct circuits are in fact...
part of a completely interconnected whole (Dicken 1998: 180) and that each
systemically relies upon the other. Of course, it is possible to discuss the circuit of
money capital independently from productive capital, or commodity capital as we
do when we discuss financial flows, securitization, global banking infrastructure,
16


etc. But, as Marx says of the formula, this whole circuit presupposes the capitalist
character of the productions process, and hence this production process as a basis,
as well as the specific social relations determined by it (1992 [1893]: 142).
To put these social relations in familiar terms, the capitalist production
process specifically in that moment where P transforms C into C constitutes a
mode of production based on exploitation.3 All pursuit of commodity production
becomes at the same time pursuit of the exploitation of labor-power, and therefore
the exploitation of those who expend labor-power, namely laborers on an
individual basis as well as collectively (Marx 1992 [1893]: 120). To be clear,
labor-power, or capacity for labor is to be understood the aggregate of those
mental and physical capabilities existing in a human being which he [sic] exercises
whenever he produces a use-value of any description (Marx 1906). It is this
capacity that the capitalist requires in the realization of commodities (for
exchange), and it is this capacity that the capitalist seeks when he encounters the
worker in the market place.
What makes the relationship differential or exploitative upon the execution
of the contract to sell labor-power on the one side, and to buy it on the other is the
way in which the exchange-value obtained from the production process (the
moment where C is bom) is divided among the parties contracted. Without a long
I am grateful to an anonymous reviewer at the Global Studies Association of North America 2008
for pointing out that class antagonism is a meaningless concept without the notion of exploitation.
17


exegesis of the labor theory of value, the process by which value is added to
commodities is production, not exchange. For as Marx suggests, exchange implies
an exchange of equal values commodity A traded for B (with money as mediator)
means that in some capacity A=B (Marx 1906). Thus, the only source of value
creation is labor-power itself. However, in the creation of values the worker is only
entitled to a predetermined amount based on the terms of her contract with the
capitalist, and the socially determined level of exchange-value necessary to
reproduce the workers subsistence. The capitalist though is entitled contractually
to the extra value created in the process of production: he holds C and the rights to
use the surplus-value (created by the surplus-labor, or that magnitude of labor-
power expended in the production process that is greater than the exchange-value
paid to the worker for the workers subsistence requirements) even after the worker
leaves the shop floor (Marx 1906). Simply put, the worker receives a lesser
amount of exchange-value than the labor-power equivalent she put into it, and the
capitalist receives a greater amount of value than he advanced relative to wages and
capital expenditures (Marx 1906).
Again, this differential, exploitative relation constitutes the essential
moment of class formation, and thus of class antagonism. Throughout Marxs
work, class formation on this basis is assumed (1906; 1973; 1991 [1894]; 1992
[1893]; 2006 [1933]), but it must be noted that there are caveats. The systemic
expansion of capitalism discussed in the Manifesto (Marx and Engels 1992 [1848])
18


based on the unfolding of class antagonism between the proletariat and bourgeoisie,
should be viewed in terms of a tendency or process not a finished historical fact
made at that, 1848, point in time. The existence of the aristocracy that class to
which the bourgeoisies interests must also be opposed was clear to Marx, though
their decline as a major social force also appeared clear (1974; 1988). Thus the
two-class system is posited (as developmental) in light of the three-class system in
which it was situated. Further, though Camfield (2004) is correct that Marx never
fully develops a picture of the aspects of class-life, nor a structurally formal or
adequate theory of [class] formation (Camfield 2004: 429, emphasis added),
dealing with it was integral to the explication of the capitalist process as a whole, as
indicated by the unfinished final chapter of the third volume of Capital, as well as
its passim presence in Marxs work (1991 [1894]).
Regardless, class formation for Marx occurs on the basis of the
relationships that are constituted by the production of commodities; this relation is
based on exploitation of those who expend and sell labor-power by those who
purchase and retain the outcomes of its expenditure; this exploitative relationship
constitutes the basis for class antagonism. The main theoretical benefit of this
perspective is that it is objective: the relationships are clear, even if the rates and
types of exploitation differ significantly in significantly different contexts.
Distributive issues, authority relations, forms of social stratification not determined
by relations of production, and other sources of subjective class identification are
19


not used to indicate sources of class formation. The class positions and places,
fractions, segments, situations and categories qualifying terms for intra- or extra-
class groups discussed below in the context of other theorists all take place in the
context of the labor-capital relation, and it is on this basis that the Marxian project
of explaining capital and class begins.
For Max Weber (1998), classes are not communities; they merely
represent possible, and frequent, bases for social action (Weber 1998:44). These
bases for social action from his perspective do not completely overdetermine other
social relations (as in the Marxian system), they are merely the phenomena of the
distribution of power within a community (Weber 1998: 44). To be sure, class for
Weber does have impacts upon power relations, but class is only one vector by
which power is obtained or used. In general, class for Weber is operative in the
economic order as opposed to the legal, social, or status orders which
defines the way in which economic goods and services are distributed and used
(Weber 1998: 44). In this context, Weber states:
We may speak of class when (1) a number of people have
in common a specific causal component of their life chances,
insofar as (2) this component is represented exclusively by
economic interests in the possession of goods and
opportunities for income, and (3) is represented under the
conditions of the commodity or labor markets. (1998: 44)
20


That is, possession (or not) of goods and means of acquisition in market contexts
has effects upon what people are capable of doing, and because these effects are
similarly experienced people can be aggregated into groups or classes.
A few consequences obtain as a result of his perspective on class. First, for
Weber distribution is the primary determinant of class situation: as the subheading
for the chapter, Class, Status, Party indicates, he observes the determination of
class situation by market situation (1998: 44). Here, property remains the source
of class identification, but as others have recognized (cf. Giddens 1975; Robinson
1996) Weber breaks with Marx by giving priority to exchange relations over
production relations. As he himself states, the mode of distribution gives to the
propertied a monopoly on ... the entrepreneurial function, and thus an advantage
over the non-propertied (1998: 44). While this situation leads to the opposition of
property and Tack of property as the basic categories of all class situations
(Weber 1998: 44) it is also indicative of a second consequence: namely the
proposition that class situations only arise in conditions of market-centered
exchange. That is, previous historically located economic arrangements not based
on relations of exchange are not societies wherein class situations exist: those men
whose fate is not determined by the chance of using goods or services for
themselves on the market, e.g., slaves, are not... a class in the technical sense of
the term (Weber 1998: 45). For Weber, slaves (and presumably the masters who
own them) represent what he calls a status group.
21


Elsewhere, Weber (1964) states that class status is determined by (a)
provision with goods, (b) external conditions of life, and (c), subjective satisfaction
or frustration ... by an individual or group (Weber 1964: 424). That is, class
status is conditioned by command over resources (consumptive ability), value
relations (aggregations based on shared values), and the ability to assert interests
and influence social outcomes (power and the ability to wield it legitimately or
otherwise). He further elaborates his perspective by positing class types:
A class is any group of persons occupying the same class
status. The following types of classes may be distinguished:
(a) A class is a property class when status for its members is
primarily determined by the differentiation of property
holdings; (b) a class is an acquisition class when the class
situation of its members is primarily determined by their
opportunity for the exploitation of services on the market; (c)
the social class structure is composed of the plurality of
class statuses between which an interchange of individuals
on a personal basis or in the course of generations is readily
possible and typically observable. (Weber 1964: 424)
Thus, what one has and what one does or is capable of doing (relative to other
classes especially) determines ones class status, and the hierarchy in which these
classes interact as well as the ability of individuals to change class statuses -
constitutes the broader class system from Webers perspective.
While the latter differs in tone and content from Webers (1998) former
description of class, the notion that class is conditioned by property or lack of
property, and the ability to either buy or sell services (what Marx would call
labor-power) in a market context is retained. What is new here is the positing of
22


class mobility as a condition for class society. Just as goods and services are traded
in the market, class positions may change up or down as conditions change.
While this does not significantly differ from Marxian positions mobility for Marx
remains a possibility even if it is not a likelihood on the mean (Marx 1991 [1894];
Marx 2006 [1933]) it does indicate the subjective nature of class composition
from the Weberian perspective. In fact, class composition for Weber, based on
shared interests (intersubjectivity), need not even result in what he calls corporate
class organizations, or class-active/ class conscious social formations: the
concepts of class and class status as such designate only the fact of identity or
similarity in the typical situation in which a given individual and many others find
their interests defined (Weber 1964: 424). Interests, subjectively determined by
the actors themselves or subjectively determined by outside observers, are the
primary means by which class is conceived in the Weberian world. Whether a
member of a property or an acquisition class, intersubjectivity may not result in
anything from this perspective. Indeed, conventional rules of conduct, (Weber
1964: 429) and concepts like authority, legitimacy, and rationality occupy a more
important position theoretically for Weber than does the problematical (for him)
notion of class, which again is a phenomenal consequence of market interactions -
not a noumenal or foundational element of social life itself.
23


Class Decomposition And Stratification
Davis and Moore (1998 [1945]) present a functionalist account of what they
term, stratification and attempt to, as they say explain in functional terms, the
universal necessity which calls forth stratification in any social system as well as
the uniform distribution of prestige as between the major types of positions in
every society and the instantiation of particular variable factors that occur in
different societies (Davis and Moore 1998 [1945]: 86, 87). Regardless of whether
or not the functionalist project of transhistorical explanations for persistent
divisions of labor is successful, or whether functionalism has fallen from favor as a
sociological tradition, their influence upon American sociological thought remains
(cf. Parkin 1998 [1979]). The primary claim is that as a functioning mechanism a
society must somehow distribute its members in social positions and induce them
to perform the duties of these positions, and that the mode of distribution tends to
be a system of differential rewards for different positions that are more or less
pleasant, desirable, and/or taxing on the individual occupying a given position
(Davis and Moore 1998 [1945]: 87). Of course these claims are buttressed by
arguments concerning differential functional importance, and differential scarcity
of personnel i.e., the essential nature of the position, and the quality of the talent
of the individual occupying or vying for a position as well as the types of major
societal functions i.e. religious, political, and scientific/technical structures.
24


What is important here is that the notions of status, division of labor, class
(in its all determinations) are sublimated into a new concept of stratification that
dissolves the antagonistic content of differential positions into a stabilizing force
for social systems. While most perspectives on class have tended to eschew such a
conservative (in the sense of systemic preservation) view of positional difference in
favor of a destructive or destabilizing view of stratification-as-inequality, Davis and
Moore, still serve as a reminder that, regardless of utopian desires to the contrary,
division of labor is socially necessary.4
Ralf Dahrendorf s (2001 [1959]) approach to class problematizes what he
considers one of the core ideas of the Marxist project, namely Marxs supposed
prognostication that capitalists and laborers as classes will be more homogeneous
respectively. Simultaneously, Dahrendorf accepts the thesis (supposedly also
Marxs) that the root of social change in capitalist society [lies] in the sphere of
industrial production (Dahrendorf 2001 [1959]: 105). The first problematic
regards the decomposition of capital, or the bifurcation of ownership and
management functions that arise from the joint-stock companies and corporate
organizational forms that came to dominate the capitalist mode of production. For
Dahrendorf, the heterogeneity of the capitalist class that results from this
bifurcation has important effects on class conflict:
4 Of course, this does not preclude a different mode of determining distributive or productive
functions, as the history of actually existing socialism, and even previous modes of production
25


first, the replacement of capitalists by managers involves a
change in the composition of the groups participating in
conflict; second, and as a consequence of this change ...
there is a change in the nature of the issues that cause
conflicts, for the interests of the functionaries without capital
differ from those of full-blown capitalists, and so therefore
do the interests of labor ..and third, the decomposition of
capital involves a change in the patterns of conflict. (2001
[1959]: 106)
What is made clear here is that even though the composition of the classes may
change, and the content of the relations between classes or class segments may
differ from traditional capitalist-class tendencies, the grounds for conflict itself,
based on competing interests of all three groups involved, remain. Even if class as
a concept looses its valency, as Dahrendorf suggests it may under conditions of
class decomposition, such changes do not imply the abolition of conflict or even
the specific conflict between management and labor in industry (2001 [1959]:
107). The grounds for antagonism are still present in workplace and commercial
relations.
The second problematic involves the decomposition of labor where workers
are distilled into at least three subgroups based on skill: highly skilled workmen
who increasingly merge with ... white collar employees, a relatively stable stratum
of semiskilled workers ... and because of the Keynesian class compromise
which proposed to achieve full employment that Dahrendorf fails to mention,
perhaps as a consequence of being present in its instantiation a dwindling
suggest.
26


stratum of unskilled laborers composed of greenhorns and unemployable
lumpenproletarians (2001 [1959]: 107). This partial disintegration of the working
class into distinct strata is both a consequence of the decomposition of capital, and
of the delegated of authority within the working class that results from the
division of labor (Dahrendorf 2001 [1959]: 107). Class decomposition from this
perspective has the effect of establishing a plurality of status and skill groups
whose interests are distinct, and possibly conflictual in their own right (Dahrendorf
2001 [1959]:108). In terms of interests and stratification that result from the
plurality of skill groups, Dahrendorf claims that as with the capitalist class, it has
become doubtful whether speaking of the working class still makes much sense
(2001 [1959]: 108). Again however, this does not preclude an analysis of conflict
among groups within labor, or between labor and management/ capital.
Two other issues must briefly be considered from Dahrendorf s perspective:
the institutionalization of class conflict embodied in collective bargaining
apparatuses, and the Weberian treatment of authority as central to antagonistic
social relations. As for the first issue, workers organizations effectively obtained
legitimacy and were articulated into the capitalist system (more or less depending
on a given nation-state, but certainly in the US in the Inter-war and Postwar
periods). In so doing, a mechanism of conflict regulation was bom. As
Dahrendorf says, organization is institutionalization ... and it thereby removes the
permanent and incalculable threat of guerrilla warfare (2001 [1959]: 108). Thus
27


class conflict is deprived of its revolutionary character, and is instead located
within a set of previously agreed upon relations that tend to stabilize the social
system in which they are instantiated.
The second issue concerns the proper locus of the origin of class
antagonism itself. Whereas for Marx, it concerns the production of commodities,
the sale and purchase of labor-power as a commodity, and the relations that result
from such a process of production, for Dahrendorf antagonism results from the
fact that they are not the product of structurally fortuitous relations of power, that
is, they are not objectively determined by the labor-capital relation, but come forth
wherever authority is exercised (2001 [1959]: 109). From this perspective
authority relations are transhistorical, and observable in any context where
authority designates a difference between dominant and subordinate groups. Thus
for Dahrendorf, even if the notion of class in the Marxian sense is relegated to the
dust bin of history, group conflict at multiple levels of the social system still
indicates a need for the analysis of group differences and antagonisms based on
interest and authority relations.
Are Social Classes Dying? as the title of an essay in The Breakdown of
Class Politics: A Debate on Post-Industrial Stratification asks, represents an
attempt, like most other perspectives, to reassess the notion of class theoretically,
relative to changes in social structure the authors observe (Clark and Lipset 2001).
The central set of claims here are that theories lag behind social changes, and that
28


traditional hierarchies are declining; resultantly, more structured social class
relations diminish in salience, and other modes of stratification and identification
become more meaningful modes of participation (Clark and Lipset 2001: 45).
Structures and artifacts like the family, the economy, political participation, and
social mobility, from this perspective, are becoming flatter. Consequently,
conflict may be organized along different lines like race, culture and gender; as
the authors sum up, politics: less class, more fragmentation (Clark and Lipset
2001: 46). Clark and Lipset are quick to point out that their perspective is not a
diminution of stratification, or that class is completely irrelevant, but there is a
trend, they say, of the fragmentation of stratification (2001: 52). While these
tendencies may be true, contemporary politics are often most effectively organized
around issues other than class, this perspective unfortunately fails to account for
systemic changes on the global level that condition these tendencies, as well of the
ability of elites to ideologically mange the very idea of class itself, or cause the
denial of the existence or reality of classes (Giddens 1975: 111).
Goldthorpe (1969) is primarily known for his contribution to the
conversation surrounding the question of whether or not the proletariat undergoes a
process of embourgeoisiement (1969) or the bourgeoisie undergoes a process of
proletarianization in capitalist societies (Abercrombie and Urry 1983; Braverman
1998 [1974]). That is, whether the leveling effect of class-life has an upward or
downward tendency. However, more recent publications include reorientations of
29


class theory that attempt to account for persistent and stable tendencies in class
structure (Goldthorpe 2007). Goldthorpe first address the two broad strands of
class theory... the Marxist and the liberal which are in fact... addressed to related
yet significantly differing explananda (2007: 161). The first (Marxist), according
to Goldthorpe (2007) revolves around class formation, or class ontogenesis, and
class action; the second is the shift from capitalist to industrial explanations that
attempt to account for class decomposition (generalized social homogenization, in
this case) (2007: 162).
What makes the two perspectives similar5 is [the] one feature they have in
common that... is of main significance: namely, that of being essentially spurious
(Goldthorpe 2007: 162). Here he is implying that Marxism neither explains class
formation, nor conflict, and liberal theory fails to show the disintegration of class as
a social fact or a concept. Instead, social stratification based in part on differentials
in educational attainment is explainable in terms of a rational action theory or
the ways in which differential social positions are explained by individual action
(Goldthorpe 2007: 165). Such individual action relative to educational attainment
better explains the long term stability of class relations in advanced capitalist
societies (Goldthorpe 2007: 181), even if it fails to explain their origins, and
subjective changes in class orientation.
30


Synthetic Approaches
Anthony Giddens (1975) argues in The Class Structure of the Advanced
Societies that class is not a specific entity that is to say a bounded social form
in the way a business or a university is; nor is class the same as a specific stratum,
or an interval layer of social life than can be quantitatively identified relative to
other strata (1975: 106). Instead it is a set of relationships that are influenced by
mediate and proximal causes of class structuration. In terms of the first set of
conditions, these are factors... which operate as overall connecting links
between the market on the one hand, and structured systems of class relationships
on the other (Giddens 1975: 107). In general he regards the mediate structuration
of class relations as primarily consisting of the distribution of mobility chances
which pertain within a given society and the degree to which these chances are
closed (Giddens 1975: 107). These mediate causes of class structuration, where
the greater the degree of closure of mobility chances... the more [we can
observe] the formation of identifiable classes can also be considered a mode of
reproduction of common life experiences both across generations, and within
historically specific market contexts (Giddens 1975: 107). Here, the ways in which
closure can be observed and maintained are conceived in terms of market capacities
that include, as Giddens states, ownership of property in the means of production;
possession of educational or technical qualifications; and possession of manual 5
5 Goldthorpe is generally self-identified with liberalism, incidentally.
31


labor-power (1975: 107). He thus also observes the existence of a three-class
system that corresponds to the three market capacities that derive from mediate
class structuration.
The second set of structurating conditions concerns three, related sources
of proximate structuration of class relationships: the division of labor within the
productive enterprise; the authority relations within that enterprise; and the
influence of ... distributive groupings. (Giddens 1975: 108). Division of labor in
this context for Giddens (1975) regards the allocation of occupational tasks
within a given enterprise (1975:108). As a cause of class structuration it may be
seen as a way in which solidarity or fracture within classes (as well as between)
may occur. The division of labor can alternately create bonds or establish
antagonisms. Authority relations further indicate the lines on which cleavage or
conciliation occur in class contexts. It would appear logical theoretically and
practically that in so far as administrative workers participate in ...the
enforcement of authoritative commands they tend to be separated from manual
workers (Giddens 1975:108). They remain workers nonetheless from this
perspective, but their class location differs based on relations of authority. The
same sort of differentiation of authority is possible in upper and middle classes as
well: Giddens (1975) reminds us that property ownership still carries fundamental
capacities of command, and so the relation of those who coordinate and control to
32


those who own indicates the point at which the middle can be identified relative to
the upper.
Distributive groupings refer to class relationships that... originate in the
sphere of consumption rather than production (Giddens 1975: 109). Here,
Giddens acknowledges that class formation remains entrenched in production
relations, but also insists that common patterns of the consumption of economic
goods have proximate effects on class structuration (1975: 109). He gives the
example of community or neighborhood segregation that occurs as a result of
both the productive tendencies of workers (or other classes) and the incomes that
result, as well as their access to mortgages or other products that indicate
commonality or differentiation in class contexts.
To be clear, none of these causes of structuration, mediate or proximate,
alone indicate the complete picture of class for Giddens: only through the
combination of the sources of mediate and proximate structuration does a three
fold class structure [that] is generic to capitalist society emerge (1975: 110). By
balancing the instantiations of mobility chances, the reproduction of the conditions
internal to specific classes, consequences of the division of labor, authority
relations, and, constitutive consumption patterns, Giddens attempts to reconcile the
(perhaps over exaggerated differences) between Weberian and Marxian
33


perspectives. In so doing, Giddens seeks to provide a comprehensive picture of
class-life in advanced capitalist contexts.6
Frank Parkin (1998 [1979]), like Dahrendorf (2001 [1959]) and Giddens
(1975), seeks to reconcile the Marxian and Weberian tendencies in class analysis
where they are compatible, and point out the flaws respectively (especially relative
to the Marxian perspective) when they are not. Specifically, Parkin deals with the
boundary problem and sociology conceived as a problematic surrounding what
actually constitutes a determinant class. For him this is resolved by understanding
the minimal Weberian claim that the relations between classes are to be
understood as aspects of the distribution of power (Parkin 1998 [1979]: 121).
Like Giddens (1975), Parkin also locates class (as power relations) around the
concept of closure, or the Weberian notion of the process by which social
collectivities seek to maximize rewards by restricting access to ... a limited circle
of eligibles (Parkin 1998 [1979]: 123).
The result of using power and closure as the indicators of class formation, is
as Parkin says, the removal of class from the realm of production relations, and its
placement into a system whereby the bourgeoisie and the proletariat [can be seen]
in relation to their prevalent modes of closure, exclusion, and usurpation,
6 It should be noted that Giddens perspective on class has undergone considerable changes since
1975, as Atkinson points out (Atkinson 2007). For the purposes of this paper, the theoretical
contributions made by The Class Structure (1975) suffice, as it remains his broadest treatment of the
concept of class to date.
34


respectively (Parkin 1998 [1979]: 125). He further theorizes that such modes of
class reproduction occur along lines of collectivist exclusion that lead to
communal groups, i.e. race, religion, ethnicity, and so on, and individualist
exclusion that lead to segmental status groups, i.e. those based on meritocracy
and presumably bureaucracy (Parkin 1998 [1979]: 135). Considered in its totality -
power relations relative to closure mechanisms this perspective is what Parkin
calls not a theory of class but a conceptual model that can account for the
wholesale discrepancies between class position and class behavior unlike more
rigid (read Marxist) theories of class (Parkin 1998 [1979]: 137).
E.O. Wrights (1980; 1989; 2005) work can be seen as an attempt at the
specification of the Marxian theory (theories) of class development. Whether
through his early work, focused on the ways in which occupational structures effect
class formation and experience (Wright 1980), his later work on subjective class
identification, and the embarrassment of the middle class to Marxist class
analysis (Wright 1989: 5), or more recent work on approaches to class analysis
(Wright 2005), Wright has made an effort to contextualize the notion of
exploitation relative to social facts that complicate the simple and objective
analysis of class in the contemporary period. For Wright (2005) however, class
analysis within the Marxist tradition is rooted in a set of normative commitments to
a form of radical egalitarianism (Wright 2005: 6): the objective determination of
class is a secondary consideration subservient to the greater project of humanizing
35


the capitalist mode of production, that is, establishing socialism. For such an
orientation, the agenda of Marxist class analysis, Wright (2005) posits three
related theses: first, that human flourishing would be ... enhanced by a radically
egalitarian distribution of material conditions of life; second, that under
conditions of a highly productive economy, it becomes materially possible to
organize society in such a way that there is a sustainable radically egalitarian
distribution of the material conditions of life; and third, that capitalism blocks the
possibility of achieving a radically egalitarian distribution of material conditions
because it is inimical to redistributive projects (emphasis removed, Wright 2005:
6).
Whether or not these egalitarian theses are endemic to Marxian scholarly or
political projects,7 Wright further specifies his view of Marxian class analysis by
stating that class relations accrue when rights and powers over productive
resources are unequally distributed (2005: 10). But because of this uneven
distribution, there are multiple types of class relations that can be experienced by
different individuals or groups at various levels of the class hierarchy. This results
in what Wright calls the problem of complexity in concrete class analysis (2005:
12). In order to overcome the complexity problem, he identifies sets of relations
that comprise class locations (2001: 14). These, at the risk of oversimplifying,
can be determined by any range of relations that effect the broader class relation
36


determined by production including family, contradictory class locations (where a
person is capitalist in orientation, but working class in actuality), and mobility
potentials. In the end, Wright (2005) differentiates between micro- and macro-
class analysis, and points to instances that are appropriate for both. In terms of the
former level of analysis, the workplace would be an appropriate unit of analysis,
but in terms of the later, the whole of the capitalist system pertains. At either level,
Wright (2005) makes two claims: first, what you have determines what you get;
and second, what you have determines what you have to do to get what you get
(emphasis in original, Wright 2005: 22). Whether as an individual or a class,
property, or access to it, determines the class relation.7 8
The Marxian New Middle Class and
Perspectives on Fractionation
Abercrombie and Urry (1983) primarily deal with the existence or non
existence of the (new) middle class in the context of capitalist society. In general
they divide Marxist perspectives on the middle class into two main camps: those
which argue for the actual or potential proletarianisation of the middle classes and
those which argue for their non proletarianisation (Abercrombie and Urry 1983:
49). Further, their bifurcation of Marxian perspectives identifies those approaches
7 For a perspective to the contrary see Marxs Critique of the Gotha Programme (Marx 1959).
g
This is a fairly generous reading of Wright; that is it actually takes seriously his claim of being
Marxist. Most Marxists, and even non-Marxists such as Clark and Lipset (Clark and Lipset 2001)
37


that presume that there are merely intermediate strata which have no particular
class character like the present study on global working class fractions and
analyses which presume there is a distinctive [middle] class with particular
interests (Abercrombie and Urry 1983: 49) as with Cox (2003), for example in
his analysis of globalization and social change.
While Abercrombie and Urry (1983) make clear the fact that Marx did
indeed deal with the concept and possible existence of middles classes, contra, as
they say, critics like Dahrendorf (2001 [1959]), they do not quite indicate whether
or not Marx himself regarded the middle as a distinct class, or an indistinct strata.
Regardless, two of the sources of proletarianization of the middle
classes/strata are identified as, first, deskilling, and second, somewhat
confusingly, the establishment of a New Middle Class (NMC) that is neither petit
bourgeois nor completely proletarian (Abercrombie and Urry 1983; Carchedi
1987). For this new middle class in this perspective, the totalizing effects of capital
produce both a collective laborer and a global read total, not globalized -
capitalist fraction also known as the manager. The sticking point here
regarding Carchedis NMC (1977), as Abercrombie and Urry (1983) point out,
concerns the [actual] distinctions between managers as the controllers of capital,
capitalists as owners of capital, and managers as mere collective laborer (1983: 61).
regard Wrights work as a Marxian-Weberian hybrid because of his perspectives on access to
resources and status.
38


Still, the point is clear that class structures in late capitalism are complicated by
functions of authority and ownership, and the changing nature of, for many, work
itself (as other perspectives reviewed herein also point out).
The non-proletarianization perspectives that Abercrombie and Urry (1983)
address focus on, first, unproductive workers characterized by their non-
engagement in actual physical production of commodities, and their participation in
economic relations as partial functionaries of capital;9 second, the possible
existence of a new petty bourgeoisie (ala Poulantzas (1975)); third, the class status
of professional workers and the class condition of the professional-managerial
class;10 and fourth, the contradictory class locations of the new middle class
(Abercrombie and Urry 1983: 67; Wright 2005). The main thrust of the argument
here concerns, regardless of the sources of non-proletarianization, whether or not
the middle classes are actually classes or merely the aforementioned less-than-
determinant strata. From these perspectives, the middle stratas class character is
decidedly non-proletarian.
Whether one accepts either the argument for proletarianization of middle
strata, or against proletarianization of middle strata depends according to
Abercrombie and Urry (1983) upon whether one sees tendencies in the middle
that suggest it will form a part of a proletarian class-for-itself (1983: 49). That is
g
Abercrombie and Urry (1983) attribute this theoretically to Nicolaus (1967).
10 Abercrombie and Urry (1983) suggest the origins of this concept are Carchedis (Carchedi 1977).
39


to say, regardless of objective determinations based on activity and location in the
commodity circuit (the labor-capital relation discussed above), the subjective and
ideologically based positions of all strata do have bearing on the making of history,
and the political and social outcomes of everyday life. If the middle is
proletarianized, its politics and positions will potentially be proletarian and vice
versa. Again, the analytical direction of a given theory depends, here, on whether
or not one sees tendencies either way.
Harry Braverman (1998 [1974), like other Marxist theorists, regards the
working class as that class which, possessing nothing but its power to labor, sells
that power to capital in return for its subsistence (1998 [1974]: 261). Although he
claims that such a perspective is static it also represents an objective means of
determining class relations, and forms the only adequate starting point for any
attempt to visualize the working class in modem society (Braverman 1998 [1974]:
261). Consequently, Braverman includes in his definition of workers segments of
the working population that others (Goldthorpe 2007; Hardt and Negri 2001;
Wright 2005) may regard as belonging to another class or status group: namely
clerical and service workers, engineers and technicians, and other not-necessarily-
manual laborers. While his perspective does not go so far as to indicate objective
fractions of the working class, and he suffers from the same inadequacies that
theories of class that ignore world-systemic economic changes have, Braverman
40


(1998 [1974]) does not go so far as to identify these segments as belonging to a
new working class as, for example Mallet (1975) does.
The folly ofnew working class theories aside, which Braverman (1998
[1974]) regards as somewhat condescending and rather ahistorical, Mallet (1975),
writing in about the same period, attempted to establish a fractionated perspective
of the working class and the new middle class based on levels of skill and activity
(Mallet 1975: 207). Further, Mallet (1975) is at least nascently aware of changes in
production processes worldwide that led to what we now call globalization: his
analysis of the working classes of Thomson-Houston11 discussed the
Americanization read, transnational homogenization of work process as early as
1968 (Mallet 1975). Keeping these efforts in mind fractionation of working
classes and an eye to changing inter-national production regimes it is clear that
efforts to understand class in less than traditional contexts is neither new, nor
without merit as the Clarks and Lipsets of the world would have us believe (2001).
Mallets sociology indicates that class as a concept rooted in the labor-capital
relation can retain meaning even in contexts where that relation is altered by new
processes and international engagements. Where the fractionation fails is in the use
of skill level: occupational stratification schemes like Mallets (1975), Wrights
(1980), and even Bravermans (1974) superimpose a subjective mode of
11 The company would later transnational^ merge with RCA, Technicolor, and other electronics-
manufacturing firms.
41


hierarchizing intra-class relations upon an otherwise objective mode of determining
class itself. My use of worker-mobility and the spatial reach of labor-power
expenditure overcomes this objective deficit.
For Poulantzas (1975), social classes are groupings of social agents,
defined principally but not exclusively by their place in the production process
(1975: 14). The implication of saying principally but not exclusively is that class
is indeed objectively determined by the labor-capital relation from a Marxian
perspective, but other social factors pertain as well. One dimension that affects the
less-than-objective determinants is the fact that social classes do not firstly exist as
such, and only then enter into class struggle. Social classes coincide with class
practices, i.e. the class struggle, and are only defined in their mutual opposition
(Poulantzas 1975: 14). Thus classes exist in the context of struggle that takes place
not only in the economic sphere (the purely objective), but also in political and
ideological situations conditioned by class practices.
Class practices, then, take place in two contexts: first, in structural
determinations, or class places, that include (a) ideology and politics, which
indicate relations of domination/ subordination, and (b) economics, which
include relations of production/ relations of exploitation; and, second, in the
specific conjuncture or historically located and therefore socially concrete
situation in which class struggle occurs (Poulantzas 1975: 14). The specific
conjuncture also determines what Poulantzas calls the class positions that class
42


actors occupy. As such, the class positions can be considered modes of class
alignment, or relatively subjective forces of class identification. Poulantzas (1975)
points out that there is a possibility that a social class, or a fraction or stratum of a
class, may take up a class position that does not correspond to its interests, which
are defined by a classs structural determination that fixes the horizon of the
classs struggle (1975: 15). The example he uses is the classic aristocracy of
labor which is objectively proletarian but subjectively class identified as
bourgeois. However, it must be noted that from Poulantzas (1975) perspective,
such a confusion of interests is not false consciousness (Lukacs 1971).
Conjunctures (points in time) are experienced concretely by social actors, and thus
their class position is lived relatively and contingently on circumstances that may
change (for the better or worse). Simply put, class determination is not reducible
to...class position (Poulantzas 1975).
For Poulantzas (1975), class fractionation occurs on the basis of
differentiations in the economic sphere, i.e. based on the material/mental,
productive/unproductive divide, or by occupation or sectoral engagement, as well
as on the basis of political and ideological relations (1975). The former
fractional determinants, however, are not clearly elaborated in his discussion
beyond the positing of what he calls participation in the categories of state
bureaucracy (politics), and intellectual cadres that formulate ideology (Poulantzas
1975: 23). That said, the class places (structural determinants), and class positions
43


(conjunctural circumstances) that actors operate in remain the key factors for class
identification: we are not confronted here with social groups external to, or
alongside, or above classes (Poulantzas 1975: 23). Fractions exist within classes,
as do Poulantzas vaguely elaborated categories: even social categories have a
class membership, their agents generally belonging to several different social
classes (1975: 24). We may assume on this basis that the bureaucrats and
intellectuals are both subjectively and objectively identifiable to a particular
(proletarian or bourgeois) class. However, their class position exists as members of
categories that constitute a means of identifying a stratum in itself. That is,
categories are distinct from fractions proper.
Again, Poulantzas (1975) fractionates the working class in the economic
sphere on the basis of the quality of labor power expenditure, i.e., whether or not
the worker uses her mind, or her hands to produce her product, and/ or whether or
not the laborer is productive or non-productive12 (1975: 316). While he does not
elaborate on the specific fractional hierarchy of the proletariat, he does identify
fractions of (with typical obfuscatory efficiency) the petty-bourgeoisie that have
an objectively proletarian polarization including those two segments
(productive/non-productive) just mentioned (Poulantzas 1975: 316). To those may
12
Poulantzas maintains the vulgar Marxist position that labor is unproductive when it does not
produce a physical commodity. My question for Marxists of this quality is, what is labor-power if
not an ephemeral and rather indeterminate commodity? Production of symbols or other
commodities that are not physical remains production of commodities. To think otherwise is the
result of an ideological artifact of purely industrial capitalist practices.
44


be added by Poulantzas (1975) designation, office workers and other subaltern
agents of the public and private bureaucratized sectors (1975: 321); and
technicians and subaltern engineers [and] managers (1975: 326). The
implication, no matter how obscure, is that workers can simultaneous occupy
contradictory class places (as their structural location), and class positions in a
given historical conjuncture.
Although theoretically serpentine and often confusing as a result,
Poulantzas (1975) marks an important attempt to maintain the Marxian project of
objective class identification in light of social transformations that occur within
capitalist practice that make such a project difficult. Clearly though, a simpler and
more manageable mode of fractional determination relative to the working class is
called for. The relation of workers to themselves under the current conditions (the
present conjuncture of globalization) requires respecification if fractions are to
again make sense as social scientific tools and objective social objects. While
Camoy and Castells (2001) make an effort to conceptualize the structural and
political changes associated with globalizing process and work-life relative to
Poulantzas (1975) thought, they have so far failed to indicate the same processes
effects on class theory and class practice itself.
45


Moving Beyond the Nation-State: Class in World-Systems,
and the Global Capital School
While Arrighi, Hopkins, and Wallerstein (1985), do not propose a
systematic account of class formation as a theoretical project in itself, they do
highlight the significant changes in political economic thinking that allow for a
conceptualization of class in a world-systemic vein. Arrighi, et al (1985) contrast
the national-local context that Adam Smith (1965 [1776]) constructs based on a
system of three orders or classes those who live by rent, those who live by
wages, and those who live by profit with the international and world economic
space suggested in Marxs critique of political economy (Arrighi, Hopkins, and
Wallerstein 1985: 140). Arrighi et al (1985) also point out that Marx collapses
Smiths three-class system into two by focusing on production itself (1985: 142) .
The result of the first shift from local to world contexts- leads, according to
Arrighi, et al (1985) to an understanding of the capitalist world system that
Implied that the market was no longer seen as enclosed [in]
each nation-state as an independent economic space, and that
the world-economy was no longer conceived of as an
interstate economy linking discrete national economic
spaces. Rather, nation-states were seen as juridical claims in
a unitary world market. (1985: 142). 13
13
I find it interesting that that the authors move from Smith to Marx and bypass completely Ricardo
(2001), who deals both with trade and theories of value in significantly influential manners when it
comes to Marxs conceptualization of production and the world-wide scope of capitalist
accumulation.
46


Thus from this perspective, nation-states remain important containers of laws and
cultures, but not of economic activities per se. The expansion of markets to a
world-wide economic space has the further consequence of world-systemizing class
itself: by effecting the socialization of labor on a world scale, the world market
[determines] the most general context of the class contradictions, and therefore of
class struggles of capitalist society (Arrighi, Hopkins, and Wallerstein 1985: 142).
The second shift Arrighi, et al (1985) identify the shift from markets to
production as the focus of class analysis points to the possibility of systemic
crisis for capital in two ways, first, in crises of overproduction which they say
results from labors subordination in the work place, and consequent weakening of
bargaining power in the marketplace, and second, by a tendency of labor to
actually be strengthened by the disciplinary effects of the very process of
capitalist production (1985: 144,145). However, the contradictory nature of these
two crisis propositions reveals a problematical moment in Marx according to this
world-systems perspective, and results in what Arrighi, et al (1985) term, a retreat
into political economy instead of a continued advance into its critique (1985:146).
In order to compensate for this retreat, and correctly identify the
tendencies of class relations in the world-system its theoretical founders
conceptualize (Arrighi, Hopkins, and Wallerstein 1985), a re-imagining of class on
a Weberian basis is necessary. Essentially, the difference here, the correction, lies
in reading antagonisms based on class-structured distribution of power within a
47


political community, and a status-group-structured distribution of power within
a political community (Arrighi, Hopkins, and Wallerstein 1985: 149). While the
former perspective may identify in part what Laibman (1999-2000) calls crisis
potentials, the later perspective identifies, in part, tendencies that promote systemic
stability. Thus, factors that are non-market and non-production relations such as
culture, nationalism, etc. can be adequately addressed in terms of the possibilities
for either transformation or maintenance of the capitalist world-system. To be
clear, the inclusion of status-group analysis is not a rejection of class analysis;
Arrighi, et al (1985) merely wish to compensate for factors other than, but
including, market and productive relations in the world-system.
Robinson (2004) argues, that the rise of transnational capital is the basis
for economic globalization which is in turn.. .the material basis for the
emergence of a single global society marked by transnational political and cultural
processes and the global integration of social life (2004: 9).14 While the nature of
those economic and social processes that define globalization are developed more
fully in the argument below, suffice it to say here that the primary basis for the
materialist argument that Robinson (2004) makes relates to the decentralization
and functional integration around the world of vast chains of production and
14 The political aspect here refers specifically to the Transnational State Apparatus discussed below;
the cultural, I assume, refers to something like Sklairs (2001) culture-ideology of consumerism; and
the social refers to global class formation (Robinson 2004)
48


distribution (2004: 11).15 Insofar as this is a central tendency of contemporary
capitalist practice, it is thus the globalization of production process itself that
provides the basis for the transnationalization of classes (Robinson 2004: 10). The
crux of the perspective that he has developed has primarily revolved around the
formation of what he and Sklair (2001) call the Transnational Capitalist Class
(TCC) (1996; 1998; 2002; 2003; 2004; 1999; 2001). However, Robinson (2004)
does deal with the concept of class in general by stating that by class he means a
group of people who share a common relationship to the process of social
production and reproduction and are constituted relationally on the basis of social
power struggles (2004: 37). Further, he deals with the working class specifically,
in the context of globalization defined above:
The proletariat worldwide and subordinate groups more
generally are clearly caught up in the process of transnational
class formation. A transnational working class is
increasingly a reality, a class-in-itself, meaning that it exists
objectively.... But this emerging global proletariat is not yet
a class-for-itself; that is, it has not necessarily developed a
consciousness of itself as a class. (2004: 43)
Beyond the positing of a global or transnational proletariat (of which there are
differences conceptually, see below) Robinson (2004) has not yet developed a
15 Production chains as defined by Dicken (1998) refer to a transactionally linked sequence of
functions in which each stage adds value to the process of production of goods or services
(emphasis added p7). Thus, production chains refer to concrete relations engendered in actual
productive activities. Moments within chains add value to the products being produced as the
commodities move from point to point from, for example, mine to factory, field to mill, desktop to
billboard, or producer to distributor. Commodity circuits on the other hand refer to the process of
49


fuller account of what such a working class looks like. Although he states that,
workers who make the various component parts ... in the assembly of a Ford car
in a singular transnational production chain that may span whole continents...
enjoy an internal relation to one another (Robinson 2004: 43), a theoretical
explication of this and other ways proletarian fractions are articulated into the
global capitalist project is required.
Sklair (2001) is best known, regarding class theory, for his proposition that
the Transnational Capitalist Class (TCC) are fractionated into four (often
overlapping) groups: the corporate fraction, the state fraction, the technical fraction,
and the consumerist fraction discussed in detail below (Sklair 2001: 17). That
having been said, his seminal work lacks a theory of class formation that is
determinant and specific. That is, he never thoroughly specifies what makes a
capitalist, transnational or not, a capitalist and a worker a worker. The closest
approximation to such a statement is reflected in his treatment of Domhoff s
(1996), class dominance theory, which is:
Based on three methods of research: analysis of membership
networks (the institutional connections between people and
organizations), money flows (between people and
institutions), and outputs of networks (which involves
content analysis of texts). (Sklair 2001: 13)
commodity exchange and production in the abstract, or to Marxs conceptualization ofthe general
formula for capital discussed above.
50


What the research program yields or sets out to prove, according to Sklair (2001),
is that there is indeed a small social upper class that is marked by ownership and
control of a corporate community ... that is integrated with a policy-planning
network and ... has great political power (2001: 13). Thus, by using class
dominance theory, even in the absence of a strict theory of (antagonistic) class
formation, Sklair (2001) is capable of identifying the segment of a social system -
an identifiable elite most responsible for its direction and maintenance at the
highest levels.
Even though Sklair (2001) points out that the project undertaken by
Domhoff (1996) relates specifically to American political, economic, and social
power relations, he also insists that the same research program can be applied to
transnational contexts insofar as the similar sets of relationships are established in
cross-border networks, money flows, and network outputs. The thrust of his work,
then, is the establishment of a theory of a transnational dominant class as it
relates to the global system (2001: 16).16 With such a project in mind, Sklair
(2001) makes four propositions: 1), that there is a transnational capitalist class
based on... transnational corporations that is more or less in control of the process
of globalization, 2), that the TCC is beginning to act as a transnational dominant 16
16 Global system theory for Sklair is centered: on the concept of transnational practices, practices
that cross state borders but do not originate with state agencies or state actors. Analytically, they
operate [in] the economic, political, and cultural-ideological [spheres]. The whole is what is meant
by the global system (2001:4). Proponents of this school of thought include Robinson and Harris
as well (Robinson and Harris 2000).
51


class in some spheres, 3), that the globalization of the capitalist system
reproduces itself through the profit-driven culture-ideology of consumerism, and
4), the TCC is working consciously to resolve two central crises: the global
class polarization crisis, and the global ecological crisis (2001: 5). Thus
Sklairs (2001) orientation, while not theoretically specifying the basis of class
formation, does account for both class antagonism the TCC is class conscious and
hegemonic, and subordinate classes regardless of consciousness are subject to TCC
domination as well as the materially oriented nature of the TCCs economic
project, and the problematics that result from systemic reproduction that is
expansionist in nature.
Robert Cox (1996a) states, polarization exists both among and within
countries in the global system, and exhibits itself in a social structure [that] takes
the form of a three-part hierarchy (Cox 1996a: 26). Keeping in mind that this
theory of social structure is not a restatement of world-systems theory where the
world is partitioned into core, periphery, and semi-periphery, but an approach to
global systems where interdependence conditions hierarchal relations, not regional
location, Cox (1996a) states that
at the top are people who are integrated into the global
economy, including everyone ... from the managers on down
to the relatively privileged workers who serve .. .production
and finance in reasonably stable jobs. The second level...
includes those who serve the global economy in more
precarious employment an expanding category segmented
by race, religion and sex as a result of the restructuring of
52


production .... The bottom level consists of superfluous
labor those excluded from the global economy...; the
objects of global poverty relief and riot control. (1996a: 26)
Here, relative articulation into the global economy conditions social stratification,
but the strata, specifically the first, can be further broken down in the context of
class: as a consequence of international production, it becomes increasingly
pertinent to think in terms of a global class structure alongside or super imposed
upon national class structures (Cox 1996b: 110). From this perspective, then,
transnational classes interact with and reconfigure national class relations on the
basis of conditions marked by production itself.
While Embong (2000), discussed below, highlights some differences
between Cox and Sklairs conception of the top of the transnational class hierarchy,
the transnational managerial class those who occupy institutional positions in
organizations like the OECD, World Bank and IMF, as well as the primary agents
of the TNC (Cox 1996b) and the transnational capitalist class the four fractions
comprising the corporate, state technical, and consumerist elements of the global
dominant class (Sklair 2001) can be viewed as analogs of the same core idea.
However, for Cox, the lower rungs of the transnational managerial class occupy a
portion of the middle strata that also include workers and bureaucrats who
operate within the context of the global economy. Coxs (1996a; 1996b)
perspective is thus a bit more differentiated relative to middle and working class
groups in the global system, and provides some nuance to class hierarchy in that
53


realm, but Sklairs (2001) perspective provides more specificity relative to the
contours of the upper echelons of the global class structure. Clearly, a perspective
that is capable of both is called for.
Embong (2000) correctly states that Class is one of the most widely used
and most thoroughly contested concepts in the social sciences, (2000: 989) as
exhibited in the varieties of class and social stratification analysis discussed here.
But as Embong also states, it has been conspicuously absent in recent post-
structuralist, post-Marxist and state-centered approaches emerging in historical and
sociological scholarship (Embong 2000: 989). He points out that class analysis in
its traditional forms has been understandably preoccupied with national societies
and the history, politics, and culture of particular societies considered internal to
nation-states (2000: 990). Such an orientation is problematic, especially under
current conditions of globalization and transnational production flows. Thus
Embong (2000) takes as his starting point production relations and the global
system in his analysis of transnational class relations (2000: 990).
The core of his perspective is based on three interrelated issues: (1)
globalization and the reconfiguration of class relations; (2) emerging class structure
and the dominant class; and (3) subordinate groups vis a vis the dominant class
(Embong 2000: 991). At the center of these forces is the transnational corporation.
As theses firms penetrate different regions and come to be viewed as companies
without countries that are exerting influence upon members of the domestic
54


classes they [reconfigure] class relations transnationally (Embong 2000: 992).
Following Cox (1996b) and Sklair (1991), Embong (2000) locates a segment of the
capitalist class in a transnational formation, but cautions that Cox (1996b) and
Sklair (1991) tend to overwork their analytical tools (Embong 2000: 993). He
contends that their perspectives tend to be too broad and amorphous as a result of
their lumping in of transnational managers and capitalists, which he regards as too
inclusive of diverse groups (Embong 2000: 993). Consequently, Embong (2000)
advocates the differentiation of transnationally dominant groups into two
analytically distinct concepts the transnational capitalist class and the
transnational managerial class (Embong 2000: 994). Thus the dominant
transnational class can be fractionated into bosses at the top of the hierarchy, and
managers in the lower fractions (2000:994).
As far as the subordinate groups relative to the transnational dominant class,
the key question concerns the criteria for analyzing the relationship between the
TNCs and the domestic classes (Embong 2000: 997). Specifically, this involves
those workers engaged directly with TNCs and those on the periphery of
transnational production that engage in the reproduction of conditions necessary to
the operation of TNCs systems (Embong 2000: 997). It also concerns the Coxian
hierarchy of subordinate groups [that] (1) consist of the new middle stratum; (2)
established (unionized and non established (non-unionized) workers; and (3) the
peasantry and the marginals (Embong 2000: 998; Cox 1996). However, Embong
55


cautions that workers, even in conditions where transnational migration has
occurred, though standing on the same side of the production relation ... are not
integrated with one another (2000: 998). The subjective side of class formation
remains paramount to Embong (2000). Therefore, while it is possible that there
exists a transnational dominant class, the subordinate classes remain decidedly
national in most contexts for Embong (2000).
56


CHAPTER 3
THE GLOBALIZATION OF CLASS: GLOBAL
WORKING CLASS FRACTIONS
Global Social Formations
Keeping in mind Marxs perspective on class formation that capital is a
mode of production characterized by the realization of commodities, that
commodity production itself is the basis for antagonistic class relations, that the
labor-capital relation is exploitative, and that the circuits of production in which
capital is engaged fully condition the specific social relations determined by it
(1992 [1893]: 142) we can begin to conceive of class on a global scale. Indeed,
globalization itself (conceptually and practically) may be considered the
internationalization of the productive circuit of capital (Dicken 1998; Robinson
2004; Sklair 1999). Although the moments M, C, and C,M, of the circuits of
capital have been internationalized to a greater or lesser degree throughout the
history of capitalist social relations in the forms of trade and financial flows across
borders the moment, P, that is, production itself, has only recently undergone
internationalization as a consequence of changed communications and
transportation technologies, and changed juridical conditions in the world
economy. Thus production is increasingly decentralized and globally dispersed
(Robinson 2004: 39).
57


Before moving on to the specific ways the world wide proletariat is
articulated into the global system, a few comments on the nature of the TCC as
well as Transnational Corporations (TNCs) (Sklair 2001), and the Transnational
State Apparatus (TNS)(Robinson 2004) are necessary, as these are the social
formations that constitute the structural and institutional forms in which the global
proletariat exists. First, as Sklair asserts, a transnational capitalist class based on
the transnational corporation is emerging that is more or less in control of the
processes of globalization [and] is beginning to act as a transnational dominant
class in some spheres (2001: 5). To be clear, a TNC is a firm which has the
power to co-ordinate and control operations in more than one country, even if it
does not own them (Dicken 1998: 177, emphasis added). Toward that end,
multiple levels of coordination are necessary in multiple economic, ideological, and
political realms. Hence the fractions of the TCC.
Members of the TCC are fractionated into four (often overlapping) groups:
the corporate fraction, the state fraction, the technical fraction, and the consumerist
fraction (Sklair 2001: 17). The first fraction includes mainly what Sklair terms
TNC executives and their local affiliates (2001:17); the second is composed of
both those politicians responsible for legislation that enables transnational
economic processes, and the lobbyists that advocate for TNCs at state levels; the
third, some members of which I dispute are materially capitalist though they
certainly are agentially, is composed of individuals responsible for the coordination
58


of transnational production processes and the nuts and bolts operation of TNCs;
and the fourth consists of merchants and the media, or those most responsible for
the production and reproduction of the culture-ideology of consumerism, i.e.,
advertisers, and commodity distributors, the Madison Avenues and Wal-Marts of
the world.
The activities of these fractions embodied in TNCs account for around
two-thirds of world exports of goods and services and though the figures are
difficult to establish with certainty, approximately one-third of total world trade is
intra-firm (Dicken 2007: 38). That it is possible for TNCs to operate across
borders either internally (in an intra-firm capacity) or through networks of local
affiliates at such startling magnitudes speaks volumes about the material basis for
claims about globalization and the existence of a global system. But the existence
of TNCs and the TCC class fractions that guide their operation is not enough of an
indicator for the expansive, systemic nature of global processes. To complete the
social formation (global society) a set of legal, ideological, institutional, and
legitimizing factors that make the transnational operations of capital possible that
is, a Transnational State (TNS) is required:
This TNS apparatus is an emerging network that comprises
transformed and externally integrated national states,
together with the supranational economic and political
forums [i.e., WTO, OECD, the EU, ASEAN, etc.], and has
not yet acquired any centralized institutional form.
(Robinson 2004: 88)
59


It is in this context that the state fraction of the TCC operates, both within
and between nation-states, by mediating political and social processes that enable
the transnationalization of economic activity. It is important to note, however, that
this is not conceptually used to suggest that the end of the nation-state is upon us,
as some hyper-globalization (Dicken 2007) theorists suggest. The nation-state
is being transformed and absorbed into the larger structure of a [nascent] TNS
and remains an integral part of global social formations (Robinson 2004: 88). Yet,
however amorphous the TNS appears and however multivariate its reach is, it does
constitute an important tool for the management of global contradictions that arise
both between capitals fractions (transnational or otherwise), and between capital
and labor.
To sum up, the TNC is the primary institutional form through which
transnational commodity circuits are engaged. The TNC thus provides the material
basis for the existence of the TCC and its subordinate counterpart, the global
working class.17 As the global system is constructed in and through these actors,
contradictions arising from their activities require a mediating force for their
management: the TNS. Insofar as there is a material basis for these actors,
transnational corporations, transnational classes, and a transnational state, there is a
17
Keep in mind the global working class from my perspective includes those workers who are
transnational in nature as well as those workers who exist in only-local contexts. Most proletarians,
with rare exception are more or less articulated into the global capitalist system, and thus constitute
global capitals subordinate counterpart.
60


basis for transnational social formations, or transnational society. However, the
global working class remains an under-explained and under-investigated class
beyond the circuits oriented approach and transnational labor flows.
The Labor-Capital Relation and the Global Proletariat:
Simple Reproduction
Digging deeper into the circuits approach employed by Marx in Capital:
Volume II, where capital is further broken down into component parts variable
and constant capital reveals the more clearly the nature of the labor-capital
relation on a global scale. Variable capital (as value) considered in its material
aspect, ... consists of self-acting labour-power itself, i.e. of living labour set in
motion by this capital value (Marx 1992 [1893]: 472). In the global system,
variable capital is constituted transnationally; variable capital confronts the worker
as something literally foreign, but at once familiar. It does not matter that the
wages paid to a worker derive from capital from a different geographic region than
the one in which the worker is employed the market in which the two parties
make contracts remains a market, though it now transcends national boundaries. It
also does not matter that the worker knows or does not know the national source of
wages (transformed variable capital): the relation itself remains transnational even
if it is not apparent to one of the parties. In many cases, however, the relation will
61


be known to be transnational by both parties. In this case, the class relation is
clearly transnational as is the potential for class antagonism.
The case of constant capital is a bit more complex. This form of capital (as
value) is defined as the value of all of the means of production applied to
production in this branch. It breaks down in turn into fixed capital: machines,
instruments of labor, buildings, ... etc.; and circulating constant capital: materials
of production, such as raw and ancillary materials, semi-finished goods, etc.
(Marx 1992 [1893]: 472). Constant circulating capital has been international in
nature for a good amount of time, as the history of world trade and imperialism
attest. So too have certain forms of fixed capital, but only insofar as the objects can
be traded as commodities the objects become fixed (and really) only (capital)
through their employment in the process of production. In a global system,
however, the constant capital in both forms is transnational. In the case of constant
circulating capital, the production process that uses (consumes) this form of capital
operates across borders but within firms: each ancillary, raw, or semi-finished
object proceeds from one geographic point to another within the TNC or its
subsidiaries until they are used up in the production of commodities. Thus the
fixed capital utilized to receive and process the circulating capital is employed
transnationally as well which forms the basis of the capitalist project of
globalization, as so many commentators have noted (Cox 1996b; Dicken 1998;
Ietto-Gillies 2002; Robinson 1996; Sklair 2001).
62


The employment of fixed and circulating constant capital in the process of
production also confronts workers worldwide as something that is at once foreign
and familiar. This time however the social origins of the objects, and therefore
their transnationality may be clearer: the fact that the circulating capital is stamped
literally and figuratively with the cultural and geographic artifacts that may identify
them as foreign, indicates to the worker that the process of production in which she
is engaged is part of a global chain. The character of the fixed capital also has a
direct effect on the worker. When the completion of the circuit (the creation of a
commodity for exchange) is dependent upon the expenditure of labor-power
cooperatively and cumulatively in multiple geographic locations, and thus multiple
fixed capital inputs, and utilizes circulating constant capital from as many or more
geographic locations as the fixed capital inputs derive, the only factor of production
remaining that can be considered national is the worker herself. However, given
the fact that the variable capital is transnational, and the constant capital is
transnational, the relations of production regardless of the nationality or cultural
affinity of the worker are transnational as well.
As suggested above, not all workers in the global system are transnational
in terms of their activities, even though generalized class antagonism itself is
constituted on a global scale. But insofar as some are or are not transnational, and
insofar as their activities vary in location and content, differentiation of workers
within the global working class is possible. Proletarian class-life even in national
63


contexts is heterogeneous; various strata, depending on activities and regions, i.e.,
whether workers produce and exist in urban or rural, industrial or agricultural,
service or manufacturing contexts can be observed historically in all societies
organized on the basis of commodity production. Even under national conditions
where the cultural character of the people is relatively definite (19th Century
Germany for example), the variance in activities and work situations the ways in
which the worker confronts capital on a day-to-day basis will be significant.
Whether a worker resides at the top of the aristocracy of labor (Hobsbawm 1999),
or at the bottom of the global pool of proletarian marginals (Cox 1996b) the labor
capital-relation conceptually and materially ensures that the work remains a
worker.
Historically, intra-class differentiation is generally made on the basis of
occupational engagement or authority relations, or on the basis of the material-
mental labor divide (Braverman 1998 [1974]; Cox 1996b; Hardt and Negri 2001;
Mallet 1975; Poulantzas 1975; Wright 1989; Wright 2005). However, given the
scope of global relations of production, and the amount of variance in the possible
activities in which workers may confront capital in its various forms, the use of 1.),
physical mobility relative to nation-states and regions, and 2.), the scope of
workers labor-power expenditure relative to the circuits in which they are engaged,
produces more manageable, inclusive, and conceptually flexible fractional
determinations (see Appendix A). This approach also allows for objective
64


determination of the class relation in the global system. Even though the agential
dimension of class is important, and the fact that some workers associate with and
work on behalf of capitalist class interests (transnational or otherwise) is
problematic, this perspective allows us to eschew, at least momentarily, the
ideologically centered conceptions of class that have come to dominate sociological
conversations about the topic in general. The labor-capital relation is our starting
point even if the quality of life certain workers enjoy sets them apart from their
less fortunate counterparts. The places and ways in which the relation is
experienced across or within national boundaries, and within or outside
transnational production chains are our modes of conveyance.
The Fractions
The nexus of the mobility/labor-power expenditure matrix results here in
six fractions: the dynamic-global, the static-global, and the diasporic-global, which
form the transnational fractions of the global proletariat; and the dynamic-local, the
static-local, and the diasporic-local, forming the local or national fractions of the
global proletariat. The term, fraction, itself could be substituted for segment,
portion, component, etc., but it conveys better as in its mathematical usage the
notion that a fraction is both merely a portion of a whole and integral to the whole
itself. Fractions of the global working class can be considered individually in an
65


analytical manner, but it is important to keep in mind that each relates to one
another in a global productive division of labor.
The Dynamic-Global Fraction
The first fraction, moving from the global to the local, and from the mobile to
the fixed (immobile) is the dynamic-global fraction. This fraction of the global
working class is composed of workers whose productive activities and products are
geographically diffuse relative to firms and nation-states. For these mobile
workers, labor-power is expended at multiple points in a given transnational
production chain. Whether they cross borders in order to set up, maintain, or
merely sell products related to information technology (or food and beverage
delivery systems, or widget production, or concrete), or they act in a flexibly
mobile capacity as midlevel managers who regulate the expenditure of labor-power
of others, they work on behalf of key actors who are accumulating rights and
powers to cross those borders (Sassen 2005: 525): namely, transnational
corporations. As such, many of these workers function at the highest echelons of
the class hierarchy not only in terms of compensation for their labor-power, but in
terms of the rights they enjoy relative to nation-states. However, some workers in
this group, such as journalists, airline workers, international aid workers, military
contractors, and workers for private transportation firms in active martial contexts
like Iraq enjoy relatively lower rates of compensation, though they still have access
66


to more rights relative to states. Members of the diasporic-global fraction
discussed below cross borders in pursuit of compensation as well, but they rarely
do so with legitimacy relative to nation-states (e.g., they lack documentation as
citizens or are deemed temporary guest workers), and therefore, their security
relative to firms is tenuous at best.18 The value-added activities in which members
of dynamic-global fraction engage occur physically across borders and within firms
or their subsidiaries, or with firms global/transnational customers. This fraction of
the global proletariat is a transnational fraction: in the simplest formulation, the
worker flexibly moves to the point of production.
Members of the dynamic-global fraction may more closely affiliate with the
interests of transnational capital as a function of the types of labor-power they
expend, the ideological imperatives in which their work is ensconced, and the rates
of compensation they enjoy. Indeed, many members of this fraction are workers
considered by Sklair (2001), to be members of the technical fraction of the TCC;
that is, capitalist in-themselves. Regardless of the agential and subjective
orientations of workers in this fraction, the objective conditions of their activities
firmly place them in the camp of labor. One need only look to the recent Screen
Writers Guild strike (workers I consider to be members of the next fraction, the
static-global fraction) to note the potential for combinatory solidarity among
18
This is not to imply that the security of dynamic-global workers is absolute. All workers, highly
skilled and compensated or not are disposable in the end.
67


workers at the higher levels of the global division of labor against the demands of
transnational capital when the correlation of forces reveals open class antagonism.
The contradictory nature of this fractions social position should not prevent us
from seeing the labor-capital relation in which they are engaged. The dynamic-
global fraction is working class in-itself, even if it is capitalist in orientation for-
itself.
The Static-Global Fraction
The static-global fraction is composed of workers whose productive
activities are geographically fixed relative to nation-states, but whose products are
geographically diffuse relative to firms. Labor-power is expended by stationary
workers at single points in a transnational production chain in coordination with
workers at other points in that transnational production chain. Workers in this
fraction range from Skype phone designers who pass their preliminary sketches,
computer aided drawings, and product prototypes back and forth between Shanghai
and London on a 24-hour production cycle, to the Shanghai factory workers who
manufacture the phones and install Qualcomm chipsets made in California as
well as software written in Israel (Gardiner 2008: 138). Other workers in this
fraction who may be engaged in global production chains are call center workers
who, as communicated to me personally by a worker in India on a recent occasion,
communicate with customers from the US, the UK, Australia, etc., as the work day
68


moves from time zone to time zone, and consequently culture to culture on a 24-
hour cycle. Still other workers engaged in this fraction are automobile assembly
line workers, local transportation workers, Screen Writers Guild members, and, in
many cases, food service workers. The value-added activities in which members of
this fraction engage occur within borders individually, but across borders
collectively through the functional integration of activities within firms or with
firms customers. This fraction is transnational as well: the product successively
moves to the worker at different points of transnational production chains.
The static-global fraction ranges in rates of compensation from the highest
echelons of the global proletariat, to the lowest depending upon geography, skill,
and location in the production chain (design, manufacturing, distribution, etc.).
Because of this variation, the subjective class identification of members in this
fraction will show a great degree of diversity as well. However, as with the
dynamic-global fraction, the relation of these workers to the transnational
corporations with which they engage as workers and class adversaries remains a
labor-capital relation. Class antagonism may most acutely be transnationalized in
this fraction: clearly, workers know that the geographic reach of their products is
variable, and in some sectors more often than not, transnational. Workers also
know that they often cannot afford the products they produce (and that even if they
could, the necessary infrastructure for full consumption as in the case of the
Skype phone perhaps may not be in place). It is in this way that alienation itself
69


is transnationalized: the workers detachment from her product spiritually and
physically transcends political boundaries.
There are no real differences in a worker who knows that only certain
populations/ consumers will be able to enjoy their products locally and workers
who know that the product can only be enjoyed on a global basis. The Chinese
worker making a particular type of product knows full well that the use-value that
her labor embodies will likely remain out of her reach whether it is used in
Shanghai or New York. Indeed, that is the self-fulfilling, always-unfolding nature
of the culture-ideology of consumerism (Sklair 2001): create and maintain desire
even when its fulfillment is impossible (that is the necessary but not final link to the
world that the static fractions discussed below maintain relative to the global
economy). Transnational relations of production and distribution form an
ontological whole for workers in this fraction and others.
The Diasporic-Global Fraction
The diasporic-global fraction is composed of workers whose productive
activities are geographically diffuse as a consequence of cross-border migration,
and whose products may or may not be geographically diffuse relative to firms and
nation-states. In general this fraction is the population that Kennedy and
Roudometof (2002) have in mind when they claim that the strong leaning of the
literature has been directed towards research mainly concerned with migrants, [and]
70


diasporas when the notion of transnational subordinate classes is pursued
(Kennedy and Roudometof 2002: 2). Here, labor-power is expended by workers in
multiple geographic and productive contexts because of some inducement to
relocate more or less permanently. Like the dynamic-global fraction above, the
activity of this fraction is characterized by cross-border movement, but unlike the
dynamic-global fraction, diasporic-global workers do so without the legal rights or
flexibility afforded the former. The legal illegitimacy denoted by the lack of
official documentation for many workers in this fraction, combined with capitals
tendency to exploit at the lowest possible wage rate, and capitals tendency to
exploit racial and cultural divisions, creates class antagonism in transnational and
national contexts, as well as inter-fractional conflicts as the split labor market
suggests (Bonacich 1972).
Having said this, the value-added activities in which members of this
fraction engage occur despite the borders of nation-states that exist as containers of
people (and remittances home), and the cultural and racial conflicts present in the
production relation and broader social relations in general. Workers in this fraction
engage in activities that range from agricultural work, assembly line work, and
domestic labor, to food preparation, transportation, and work in other service
sectors. While workers in this fraction are often marginalized economically and
socially, there remains considerable variance in fractional experience relative to
wages and other factors pertaining to the labor-capital relation. But in terms of the
71


global reserve army of labor, the conditions endured by workers in transnational
contexts that range from North Africa-Europe, Latin America-United States,
Palestine-Israel, and Central Africa-South Africa to name a few, are often at the
extremes of human capacity. The actual act of border crossing may be among the
most dangerous undertakings in which members of this fraction engage.
However, the types of communities created by workers in this fraction are
also significant social formations that suggest the newness of the global moment, as
Kennedy and Roudometof (2002) suggest:
In our global age communities have become liberated from
dependence upon direct interpersonal relations and, like
cultures, from the need to operate primarily within the limits
set by particular physical locations. Locality is no longer the
only or even primary vehicle for sustaining community. The
subversion of physical locality ... is carried out by the
migration of people and cultures across borders. (2002: 13)
To this it may be added, the subversion physical locality is often carried out in
the context of the labor-capital relation. For whatever reason, in the case of this
transnational working class fraction, the worker moves to the point of production.
The Dynamic-Local Fraction
The dynamic-local fraction, like the other remaining fractions in this
perspective can be perceived as belonging to primarily nation-state contexts, but
because workers are still more or less articulated into the global economy in other
ways i.e., through the culture-ideology of consumerism (Sklair 2001) they
72


remain part of the greater, global proletariat. The members of this fraction are
Workers whose productive activities and products are geographically diffuse
relative to firms within nation-states. Here, labor-power is expended by mobile
workers at multiple points in a given national production chain. The sectoral
activities in which members of this fraction engage are similar to the transnational
fractional analog, the dynamic-global fraction. Sales people, managers, Teamsters,
engineers, rail workers, doctors, and other professionals are required to be flexibly
mobile in the conduct of their working lives. The value-added activities in which
members of this fraction engage occur physically within borders and within firms
or their subsidiaries, or with firms local/national customers. Here the worker
flexibly moves to the point of production within national/ local contexts.
Like the dynamic-global fraction, dynamic-local workers may be tied
agentially to the capitalist class, though their activities locate their objective social
relations on the side of labor. The gambit of class-life experiences is observable in
this fraction, from the purely proletarian trucker who, consequently, represents the
aristocracy of labor in his capacity of union member, to the proto-bourgeois
chemical engineer. While it would be tempting to relegate members of this fraction
to regions or states that are only poorly articulated into the global capitalist project
- which, to be sure, is a condition that needs exploration or to previous moments
in the development of the advanced capitalist economies of the north, the dynamic-
local fraction remains a vibrant subset of the global proletariat. In either case, the
73


culture-ideology of consumerism links the dynamic-local fraction to broader
market contexts, as does their engagement commercially with segments of
transnational capital (and labor).
The Static-Local Fraction
The static-local fraction is composed of workers whose productive activities
and products are geographically fixed relative to firms and nation-states. Any of
the manufacturing, service, mental/ manual labor, professional or unskilled
activities that occur within the context of local chains of production constitute the
relations in which members of this fraction work. Labor-power is expended by
stationary workers at single points in national production chains and in single
geographic contexts. This does not preclude the extraction of raw materials for
trade on international markets per se, nor does it preclude the export of finished
goods (intended for domestic consumption) as a secondary outcome of production.
But it does preclude the practice of export promotion or sacrificing production
for domestic consumption and basic needs in favor of earning foreign exchange
(Cox 1996a: 22). Such activities are indicative nominally or at least nascently of a
static-global fractional orientation. The value-added activities in which members
of this fraction engage occur within borders for local firms. In general, the product
may successively move to the worker within a local context.
74


For this fraction too, it is tempting to search for its existence only in
peripheral or poorly articulated national contexts if only because of the global
nature of global capital, and the expanded role of transnational forces of production
(Sklair 1999) and distribution world wide. To be sure, a localized circuit, combined
with the static nature of the worker engaged in it, denotes a condition of national
class membership, and indicates an amount of closure economically and socially
that would be difficult to find let alone sustain in the Global North (or increasingly
South). Still, empirical examples of members of this fraction can be derived from
multiple national and labor contexts; even within the most globalized societies of
the Global North some industries that exist within only one national circuit may be
found, though they are increasingly rare. One example that comes to mind is that
of local organic foodstuffs. However, the transnationality of the laborer also
conditions the socio-cultural content of the commodity, so the possible and likely
employment of migrant labor (diasporic-global workers) complicates the
identification of such circuits as purely local.
The Diasporic-Local Fraction
Finally, the diasporic-local fraction is composed of workers whose
productive activities and products are geographically diffuse relative to the nation-
state. Labor-power is expended by workers in multiple geographic and productive
contexts because of some inducement to relocate within national boundaries. The
75


examples that jump immediately to mind are the workers displaced by the recent
earthquake in the Chinese, Sichuan province, farm workers displaced by the
massive economic and environmental dislocations associated with the Great
Depression, and internal diaspora generated by Hurricane Katrina. While there
may be a strong tendency to associate the origination of this fraction with
environmental catastrophe because of the examples just given, capitals flight from
a given region, as in the case of the North American Rust Belt, also induces
workers to relocate (en masse on occasion), as does generalized systemic
instability.
Obsolescent capitalism (Amin 2003) as it is practiced in local contexts
destroys physical communities and infrastructure as it abandons once profitable
enterprises in one region for others elsewhere. In the process, workers are forced to
relocate in this case, within a given nation-state. While members of this fraction
may derive from any segment of the working class relative to compensation and
skill, those on the margins of the productive relation are most often impacted by
such dislocations. What is problematic (again) about the notion of purely localized
or national fractional contexts, is the fact that the motivation for capitals flight
may be location specific: global impacts on local life complicate the determination
of regional cause and effect materially and conceptually. Whatever the cause of
disruptions and inducements to relocate, the value-added activities in which
members of this fraction engage occur within borders, and may or may not occur
76


within the confines of firms. In this case, the worker moves to national points of
production.
77


CHAPTER4
CONCLUSION: THE FRACTIONS AND
DIRECTIONS FOR FUTURE
RESEARCH
In sum, the fractions of the global working class are divided into two broad
segments, transnational fractions including the dynamic-global, the static-global,
and the diasporic-global, and national or local fractions including the dynamic-
local, the static-local, and the diasporic-local. Fractional determinations are based
first, on workers physical mobility relative to nation-states and regions, and
second, on the geographic scope of workers labor-power expenditure relative to
the circuits in which they are engaged. By using a fractionated perspective of the
global proletariat we can continue to make meaningful the concept of class relative
to commodity production regardless of (but respectful of, in many senses) the
overwhelming occupational, cultural, and social complexity that conditions the
labor-capital relation in the global era. This paper approaches class from an
objective standpoint, as the reliance on commodity production as the centerpiece of
class theory suggests, and in so doing disposes temporarily of the subjective and
ideological determinations that cloud the understanding of class-life.
I have striven to, as Robinson (2002) suggests, break with nation-state
centered analysis and understand global political economy and its impact on class
formation based not on territory but on transnational social groups (2002: 1047).
78


This paper is an attempt to make sense theoretically of the complexity that such a
project implies. Insofar as the production process is transnationalized, class
antagonism is transnationalized. Our investigations of these relations should reflect
explications that keep this in mind. I want to make clear the importance of
regarding the abstractions I have designated proletarian fractions as such as
abstractions. Although I provide a typology below, I do not want to suggest to the
reader that I regard the fractions as ideal-types, or that this is the only way to honor
the attempt to perform a sociology that moves from a territorial to a social
cartography (Robinson 2002). The typology merely represents a compact and
pseudo-graphical means of communicating my perspective. I hope that I have
clearly demonstrated that the relations I have discussed are actually-existing
relations that are historically located. The nexus of the labor-capital relation and
the spatial-productive relation seemed to me to be an efficient means of
reconceptualizing class analysis relative to globalization.
A conscious effort to avoid the material-immaterial/ mental-manual labor
divide so often invoked to determine the differential nature of working class groups
and their hierarchal relationships, (Braverman 1998 [1974]; Hardt and Negri 2001;
Hardt and Negri 2004; Mallet 1975; Wright 2005) also informed my decision to use
the geo-spatial reach of workers physical activities and their embodied labor-
power for fractional determination. The material-immaterial/ mental-manual divide
implicitly suggests (perhaps unintentionally) that those who engage in physical and
79


repetitive labor are less intellectually inclined, when in fact most workers are the
antithesis of Fords mindless automaton (Pena 1997: 7). Workers as individual
human beings and as a class, regardless of their fractional position or their
occupational activities, tend to be pretty complex animals. This approach allows for
a reconsideration of the proletariat as a universal class (Gouldner 2001), even if it
is heterogeneous, diffuse, and only extant in-itself.
By identifying the global fractions of the working class, potentials for inter-
or intra-fractional solidarity in transnational or broader regional contexts can be
theoretically brought to the fore. Understanding the nature of inter- and intra-
fractional conflict is possible as well, for, as I have so far avoided, the subjective
and ideologically induced experiences of the labor-capital relation do matter.
Convincing workers at the highest levels of the dynamic-global fraction that they
are indeed members of a transnational fraction of the global working class, and that
their class allegiance should shift on such an objective basis is clearly a difficult or
impossible (utopian) task to propose. But, as the Screen Writers strike
demonstrated, well compensated workers normally affiliated with segments of the
bourgeoisie can be induced to see and react to the labor-capital relation when the
class contradictions become too apparent for capital to manage with ideology. In
that case, the most active segment of the static-global fraction arguably represented
the top of the hierarchy. As the capitalist project unfolds, further contradictions
will be exposed at all levels of class-life.
80


As a friend gently reminded me property [often] has a phenotype and a
gender, and relations of production are experienced around that phenotypical,
[gendered] and epidermal aspect of social life.19 The ways in which race, culture,
and gender intersect with class-fractional experiences need to be explored as well.
Class analysis has to, as Cox (2003) makes clear, embrace comprehensively the
various identities ethnic, religious, gender, etc. manifested by those groups that
have initiated pockets of resistance (Cox 2003: 85). By fractionating the global
proletariat conceptually, we may be able to better manage our understanding of the
way non-class social relations act upon individuals and collectivities under the
influence of globalization. Having said this, I hope that class as a concept can be
reinvigorated in its own right as a means of self-identification.
While I am hesitant to ascribe a fixed hierarchical set of relations to global
working class fractions, we must ask, on what basis does one fraction have
hegemony over another? If the criterion is numerical, political, or agential the
structure of the hierarchy changes. In terms of the current configuration, our
answer to the question of hierarchy would focus on the agential aspects: the
dynamic-global fraction is partially articulated into the TCC itself, and clearly
enjoys a great degree of autonomy and direction over the production process as
regards their own labor and the labor of others. In that respect, the global-dynamic
fraction resides at the top of the social structure of the global working class. If we
19
Thanks to Manuel Espinosa for highlighting the cultural and racial dimensions of class-life.
81


assess the relative position of one fraction over another in terms of potentials
(relative to the current trajectory of the global system), we must look to the
potentially numerically dominant group, the static-global fraction. If indeed the
static-global fraction (or even segments of the fraction) is capable of transnational
organization by sector, by industry, or by region their potential for intra-class
hegemony (and thereby systemic counterhegemony) locates them at the top of the
global proletarian hierarchy. If, however, the diasporic-global fraction can
effectively organize in transnational contexts and advance the causes of labor
mobility and full human rights for migrants, the hierarchy shifts in their favor. By
advancing the cause of labor transnationally for those with historically the least
rights and the least stability in relation to capital, the diasporic-global fraction may
function as a vanguard for the global proletariat, thus placing them politically and
agentially at the top of the global working class social structure.
Further still, the instability of the global capitalist system may cause
ruptures within and between fractions that force us to rethink the possibility of
global classes in general. While it is perhaps not possible to return to conditions
where the nation-state is the final juridical, economic, and social container, ala the
inter-war period of the 20th Century, the potential for inter-regional conflicts and/ or
collusion to undermine global integration remains. Thus national class fractions,
regional class fractions, or even national and regional classes may socially
82


insinuate themselves once again into international relations and more-local-than-
global contexts.
Of course, all of these potentials rest upon the ability of working class
formations to assert themselves; to gain some ratio of class consciousness and
attain a for-itself orientation at least partially. Absent such a reawakening, the
long interregnum of generalized conscious and effective working class activity in
the global system will continue.
83


Global Proletarian Fractions Attributes Possible Empirical Examples Co- extensive Social Formations
Dynamic- Workers whose productive activities and products are geographically diffuse relative to Project coordinators, IT
Global firms and nation-states: labor-power is expended by mobile workers at multiple points in professionals, sales
a given transnational production chain. The value-added activities in which members of people, mid-level
this fraction engage occur physically across borders and within firms or their subsidiaries, management, journalists,
s or with firms global/transnational customers. [The worker flexibly moves to the point of airline employees
o production.!
2 u. Static-Global Workers whose productive activities are geographically fixed relative to nation-states, Cali center workers,
73 but whose products are geographically diffuse relative to firms', labor-power is expended Screen Writers Guild
by stationary workers at single points in a transnational production chain in coordination members, automobile 3 3
5 with workers at other points in that transnational production chain. The value-added assembly line workers, 3 s 3 g
(A e activities in which members of this fraction engage occur within borders individually, but transportation workers, 3 tt
5 across borders collectively through the functional integration of activities within firms or service workers St. O O 3
with firms customers. IThe product successively moves to the worker.l 3 as as
Diasporic- Workers whose productive activities are geographically diffuse as a consequence of Farm workers, assembly ~ & (£
Global cross-border migration, and whose products may or may not be geographically diffuse line workers, domestic £*. 3 o
relative to firms and nation-states: labor-power is expended by workers in multiple laborers, service workers > 3
geographic and productive contexts because of some inducement to relocate more or less a §'
permanently. The value-added activities in which members of this fiaction engage occur s
despite the borders of nation-states that exist as containers of people (and remittances 3 O yi c
home). [The worker moves to the point of production.! H 3
Dynamic-Local Workers whose productive activities and products are geographically diffuse relative to Farm workers, assembly gs G)
firms within nation-states: labor-power is expended by mobile workers at multiple points line workers, domestic § 8
in a given national production chain. The value-added activities in which members of this laborers, service workers 5* o
fiaction engage occur physically within borders and within firms or their subsidiaries, or 3 OQ ga ^
with firms local/national customers. [The worker flexibly moves to the point of n 2,
production.! f.9
C Static-Local Workers whose productive activities and products are geographically fixed relative to Farm workers, assembly & 3 (A
.2 firms and nation-states: labor-power is expended by stationary workers at single points line workers, domestic 3
a in national production chains or in single geographic contexts. The value-added activities laborers, doctors, lawyers, G Q g 55*
u. in which members of this fiaction engage occur within borders for local firms. Though and other professionals 55 3
o products may be intended for domestic consumption, international trade is not precluded.
[The product may (or may not) successively move to the worker within local contexts!
Diasporic- Workers whose productive activities and products are geographically diffuse relative to Okies, national migrants,
Local the nation-state: labor-power is expended by workers in multiple geographic and nationally internal
productive contexts because of some inducement to relocate within national boundaries. diaspora (Hurricane
The value-added activities in which members of this fraction engage occur within Katrina victims)
borders, and may or may not occur within the confines of firms. [The worker moves to
national points of production.!
APPENDIX A
Typology of Global Proletarian Fractions


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