Class and Community - Concepts• Class is a segment of society that is defined primarily by property, wealth, occupation income and education.• A community derives its identity from the fact that its members, irrespective of their economic standing, share a common language, a common religion or the sense of a common ancestry.
Heterogeneity of Class and Communities• Conversely, no major community of birth, whether based on language, religion or caste consists of only one single class to the exclusion of all the others, although the different communities of birth tend to be unequally represented in the various social classes.
Class and Community in India• The common tendency in India to conflate caste with class has been a source of much confusion. Castes are communities of birth and, as such, different in their constitution and operation from classes.• The practice of conflating caste with class, or of using the term "class" to refer to socially disadvantaged communities goes back to colonial times, and it has been continued in the Constitution of India.
The Class Approach• Marxists everywhere have regarded class and class conflict as starting points for the study of society and history.• Marxian theory of classes is a theory of contradiction and conflict. A dichotomous scheme of classes is the one best suited to a theory in which the relations between classes are inherently antagonistic.
Class in itself, Class for itself• Class is first and foremost about differences in objective material conditions. Differences in objective conditions are accompanied by a growing consciousness of those differences.• Objective conditions and consciousness of those conditions undergo continuous changes, and changes in the one stimulate changes in the other. A class exists only in an embryonic form where there is no consciousness of class; it is a class in itself but not yet a class for itself.
Emerging Bases of Inequality• While Marx had correctly appreciated the significance of property, he failed to grasp the emerging significance of occupation, education and income as bases of differentiation and inequality.
Impacts of Economic Reforms in IndiaIn India, liberalisation and privatisation have no doubt hurt some individuals with secure employment, but they have also created new opportunities for others with drive and initiative but with little prospect of paid employment.
New Occupations- New Identity• The marketing manager, the ambassador, the bank clerk, the postman and the municipal sweeper derive their identities less from the structure of property than from the systems of education and occupation. They may all be employees of one kind or another, but their social situations are very different.
From Working Class to Middle Class - I• The shift in attention to the distinction between the working class and the middle class was accompanied by a displacement of property and wealth in the definition of class by income, occupation and education.
From Working Class to Middle Class - II• Many sociologists have pointed out that rapid changes in technology and the organisation of work together with open access to schooling have blurred the distinction between the working class and the middle class.
Classes to Communities - I• While classes, whether as proletariat and bourgeoisie or as working class and middle class, have failed to develop the kind of identity that some expected them to develop, communities of birth based on language, religion, sect, caste and tribe, have maintained, not to say strengthened, their identities in the face of rapid social change.
Classes to Communities - II• This is a worldwide phenomenon although we witness it in a particularly marked form in contemporary India where even the ideological proponents of class politics have yielded increasingly to the politics of caste and community.
Middle Class - I• A closer look at any of the major communities of birth and the manner in which it operates in the political system will reveal the importance of the middle class, and hence of class in general, in contemporary India.• Those who articulate the interests of the community do not come from all social classes but predominantly from the middle class.
Middle Class - II• The educated middle class has grown substantially in size, first through the steady expansion of the public sector in the early decades of independence and, more recently, through the expansion of the private sector.
Middle Class - III• The recent strife over numerical quotas in institutions of higher education has brought out the leading role of the middle class in articulating the interests of caste and community in the name of social justice.
Middle Class - IV• The proponents as well as the opponents of quotas, though divided by caste and community, both belong to the middle class, and in the case of the IITs and the IIMs, aspire for membership of the upper middle class. ______________