Economy and Class Structure by Rosemary Crompton, Jon Gubbay (auth.)

By Rosemary Crompton, Jon Gubbay (auth.)

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The occupational structure of manufacturing industry was therefore relatively undifferentiated in terms of both skill and status, a majority of manual workers were serviced by a small 'managerial' stratum which overlapped to a considerable extent with the owner/entrepreneur and his family connections. Although industrial production dominated the British economy by the 1850s, a substantial minority of the occupied population was still engaged in agriculture; in the 1840s, for example, more than a quarter of the working population in Great Britain was located in the agricultural sector.

The state's role, however, especially in England, was largely indirect, and bore no resemblence to the direct intervention increasingly characteristic of the modern state. State activities in England during industrialisation have been described as 'negative intervention'- that is, the state played an active role in dismanding many pre-capitalist, pre-industrial restrictions, thus facilitating the full and free development of market activity. 5 The state has historically provided 'externalities' during the process of industrialisation, that is, the provision of 46 ECONOMY AND CLASS STRUCTURE services such as transport, or technical education.

Particularly significant for Marx's analysis (and predictions) has been the emergence of the middle class stratum, a heterogeneous group of occupations including managers, higher and lower professionals, civil servants, technicians, clerks, etc. Characterisitically these groups draw better material rewards than manual workers, but these rewards are not usually derived from property rights but from the real or supposed value of the work or services performed. In Chapter Three we noted the difficulties which the emergence of the middle class presents for Marxist class analysis.

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