Relationship between proletariat and bourgeoisie definition

The Communist Manifesto - Bourgeoisie and Proletariat

relationship between proletariat and bourgeoisie definition

Click here for An Introduction to Marxism NEW link added October 19th Relationship between Bourgeoisie and Proletariat is based upon exploitation. Background. Karl Marx () was a revolutionary German economist and philosopher, and the founder of the Communist movement. Marx was writing. For Marx, classes are defined and structured by the relations concerning . In addition to the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, Marx discussed a.

For Marx, it is people distributed on the bases of differentiated property ownership and sources of income; for Dahrendorf, it is differential power, norms, and roles. This subjective culture is purposely ignored by Dahrendorf in his desire to emphasize the conflict dynamics of society.

The existence of some shared meanings and values is a prerequisite of class conflict, however, and a breakdown of crystallized meanings, values, and norms can itself generate the conditions for class conflict. A culture in which slave labor is generally believed right, proper, and sanctioned by the gods, as in classical Greece, will have little associated class conflict.

For Marx, meanings, values, and norms were themselves a product of property relations. Property relations define social space; the conditions of ownership of capital, land, or one's labor constitute dichotomous components distributing individuals in their social relations.

The concepts of culture, of subjective meanings, values, and norms were not part of Marx's intellectual world. Their closest counterpart, ideas, were a manifestation of class division.

relationship between proletariat and bourgeoisie definition

In the helix, the social space is transformed into a structure of conflict insofar as differential locations in the space define opposing attitudes. For me, an attitude is a psychological disposition to want certain goals. Attitudes form a switchboard between needs and active interests; the connections are wired through acculturation, socialization, and personal learning, and experience.

It is the reflection of our culture and society, of our social space. These opposing attitudes are more than simply conflicting wishes or wants; instead we have a clash of opposing perspectives. The structure of conflict defines latent conflict groups, in the sense that people who have opposing attitudes are reservoirs for opposing interests groups. Now, I define class according to the relationship of people to authoritative hierarchies in groups.

There are two classes, those with authoritative roles and those without, and these classes define opposing attitudes i. Other structures of conflict are not associated with classes, but this is the main one manifested in societal or collective conflict and political struggle. My view is close to Dahrendorf's. Classes are latent interest groups associated with the authoritative roles of imperatively coordinated organizations.

However, Dahrendorf does not distinguish types of groups or dissociate authority and coercion, nor does he deal with the psychological implications of latent interests, feeling it sufficient to treat interests as a sociological category.

With this I disagree; for an understanding of the meaning and process of conflict requires a preliminary consideration of perception, expectations, dispositions, needs, and power.

To provide such a foundation was the intent of my Vol.


The Dynamic Psychological Fieldand my treatment of field and power in Vol. Aside from the different definitions of class, Dahrendorf and Marx have similar views of latent interests and the class situation.

Marx saw classes in relation to property, and this relation defined different life situations and opposing latent interests. No manifest conflict behavior might occur. Indeed, members of opposing classes might interact as though no opposing interests existed. Thus similar class situations are a necessary but not a sufficient condition for manifest struggle, as is also true in the conflict helix.

relationship between proletariat and bourgeoisie definition

For Dahrendorf and Marx, as in the conflict helix, awareness of opposition and the activation of interests transforms latent interests into a new situation, one of class consciousness. In the helix, interest is transformed into a conflict situation that is generated by propaganda, contact, communication, leadership, and so on.

relationship between proletariat and bourgeoisie definition

For Marx and Dahrendorf the transformation is similarly produced. The important point is that in all three views, class consciousness is not automatic but is engendered by some event e. For Marx and Dahrendorf, however, the conflict situation my term implies manifest conflict. Consciousness is equated with struggle. In the helix, consciousness is but a phase toward struggle.

No manifest conflict may occur; for the other side may be too strong, the sanctions too severe, or the inertia of habitual interaction patterns too great. In the helix a balance of powers between opposing class interests may be wholly on the psychological level.

Moreover, Marx and Dahrendorf ignore the inception phase of class conflict--the need for a trigger, for will, for preparations, even if psychological. Thus both stress group organization as intrinsic to class conflict; but organization, which is part of the inception phase, is not clearly delimited from a situation of conflict and actual conflict.


In some societies preparations may last for years, while workers stock arms, organize cells, and spread the word. On the surface all is stable; underneath a transformation from class consciousness to overt conflict is underway.

Class struggle or conflict, the active opposition of classes, is of course the meat of class theories. The utilization and importance of political power in the struggle is also recognized. Moreover, the three theories equally recognize the importance of the superimposition of class interests in contributing to the intensity of the struggle. Marx puts this in terms of the generalization of separate factory-specific class conflicts, and the increasing homogenization of classes; Dahrendorf refers to the superimposition of role incumbents, such that the same people are generally in the same authoritative relationship across organizations.

I treat superimposition in the same manner. Conflict leads to balance and a structure of expectations; and this is where Marx, Dahrendorf, and the conflict helix diverge.

For Marx, class conflict in conjunction with correlated processes such as increasing worker poverty leads to the intensification of the dominance of one class, and eventually the disruption of the class society. Revolution brings the proletariat to power, classes are eliminated, and the state that was necessary to protect the bourgeoisie, gradually disappears. For Dahrendorf, class conflict is a lever of change.

The direction of change is indeterminate, except to say that the alteration in social structure is a re-forming of authoritative roles. There is a note of continuous flux here, of balances and new balances.

In the helix, the outcome of the struggle is explicit. It is a structure of expectations regulating social interaction, based on a balance among class interests, capabilities, and wills. But the notion of this structure as the equilibrium of values and norms, as a consensual stability, is missing in Dahrendorf.

Moreover, this phase as a momentary stasis, one that can grow out of concordance with the underlying balance and itself be disrupted in new overt class conflict, is a perspective unique to the helix.

At the philosophical level, the three theories share an emphasis on change, power, and conflict.

relationship between proletariat and bourgeoisie definition

Conflict is not aberrant, but a natural part of human interaction; and conflict--struggle--can both transform and create societies. Both Marx and Dahrendorf, however, particularize their theories to class conflict, whereas in the helix, class conflict is but the most severe form of social conflict, and class opposition is only one form of opposition among attitudes and interests. All social conflicts are regarded as involving the same conflict process--the conflict helix.

Some feel that status-oriented analyses provide a meaningful theory of class conflict that supersedes the Marxist view. For Marx, status, such as wealth or prestige, was usually but not necessarily the outcome of property ownership.

Capitalists tended to be wealthy, powerful, and prestigious, and workers were quite the opposite. Statuses contributed to defining the class situation but were not an essential characteristic of it. Status, moreover, is continuous. There are no clear defining breaks, except perhaps the arbitrary high-low status differentiation.

Class is dichotomous, however. It is defined relative to property for Marx, and to authority in Dahrendorf"s theory and my view; class and status are correlated, but this correlation does not define class. Class conflicts are generated by social relations based on class. Correlated status differences may contribute to this class conflict, or crosscutting status differences may bleed off class tension. Status is an intermediary variable. Status differences generate a structure of conflict, to be sure.

As I argued in Chapter 18 of Vol. The Conflict Helixpeople are oriented in social space by status distances that define opposing attitudes. But the structure of conflict that results from status imbalance and incongruence is largely individual. Clear lines of demarcation are not formed, and conflict groups do not recruit members from balanced versus imbalanced statuses. Rather, the conflict or interest groups that traverse society are formed out of classes, out of the antagonistic attitudes supporting and opposing the status quo.

The confusion here is that those of high status generally support the status quo; those of low status oppose it. Moreover, those of imbalanced statuses generally oppose the status quo, which contributes to their imbalance.

They provide leadership and organization. But to emphasize status as a source of pervasive political conflict is to miss the underlying structure, the latent attitudes from which status differences gain their strength. This underlying structure is whether one legitimately commands or obeys.

Historically, he saw primary social relations, culture, and ideology as reflecting property relationships. Moreover, political power, the state, was the instrument for maintaining and protecting property relations, and in mature capitalist society, the business of the state was that of the bourgeoisie.

If property were central, what was the effect of the gradual separation between property ownership and control or management that was occurring in Marx's time through joint-stock companies? For some, like Dahrendorf, this trend presaged the gradual transformation of capitalism into a postcapitalist society dominated by managed corporations and bureaucrats. Even in his own time Marx recognized the joint-stock company as significantly altering the nature of the class struggle.

Others, like Zeitlinargue that Marx recognized the separation of ownership and control as simply a transformation in capitalism, realizing that those who control do so in the name of the capitalists and share their class interests. A position on this controversy need not be taken here. At issue is whether it is authority or property relations that provide the most basic vehicle for understanding class conflict. Property is that over which one legitimately exercises exclusive control.

It is a right granted by society i.

That property which is socially significant establishes a relationship of domination and subordination among people e. Of course property as sovereign control can be that which we can establish and protect with our own power.

The Communist Manifesto - Bourgeoisie and Proletariat

But with the growth of society, socially significant property is no longer a matter of personal strength, but of law. It is the power of the state that protects and grants exclusive authority. Thus property has no meaning in society except as defined in the state's law-norms. In essence, then, property ownership is an authoritative role; relations of property, as between worker and factory owner, are relations of authority at the state level.

It is partially for these reasons that class conflicts emerging from such authoritative roles are struggles over state power. For ultimately, the class that controls the state controls property rights. But property rights, again, are command and control over property. Thus even if property is legally vested in shareholders who grant managers the right to control the company, the managers still exercise command over property, and thus stand in a state-sanctioned, authoritative relationship to workers.

The separation of ownership and control makes no difference with respect to the locus of authority and the resulting class conflict and struggle. It follows that the creation of public property, whether nationalized industry or public lands, does not alter the social relationships creating classes and class conflict.

But at this stage a new struggle was formed between the bourgeoisie the property owning class and the proletariat the industrial working class. Marx argued that the capitalist bourgeoisie mercilessly exploited the proletariat. He recognised that the work carried out by the proletariat created great wealth for the capitalist.

In this way, the capitalist, who controls the process of production, makes a profit. Marx believed that capitalism contained the seeds of its own destruction. He described how the wealth of the bourgeoisie depended on the work of the proletariat. Therefore, capitalism requires an underclass. But Marx predicted that the continued exploitation of this underclass would create great resentment. Eventually the proletariat would lead a revolution against the bourgeoisie. The final struggle would lead to the overthrow of capitalism and its supporters.

Marx wrote that modern bourgeois society 'is like the sorcerer, who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells. In such a society, land, industry, labour and wealth would be shared between all people.