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Olin Wright Class Counts Notes

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This is an extract of our Olin Wright Class Counts document, which we sell as part of our Sociological Theory Notes collection written by the top tier of University Of Oxford students.

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Erik Olin Wright - Class Counts Chapter One: Class Analysis
* Class analysis is based on the conviction that class is a pervasive social cause and thus that it is worth exploring its ramifications for many social phenomena
* Historical materialism claims that 'the overall trajectory of historical development can be explained by a properly constructed class analysis'
* Class structure is one aspect of class analysis. There is also class formation, class struggle and class consciousness
* class structure is conceptually pivotal to understanding any other strand of class analysis, because it will identify the essential difference between a class and any other group, for example
* Parable of the schmoo etc
* the preference oredering of workers corresponds to universal human interests i.e. preclass interests
* the deprivations of the propertyless in a capitalist system are not an unfortunate byproduct of the pursuit of profit, they are a necessary condition for that pursuit
# this is exploitation: exploiting classes have an interest in preventing the exploited from acquiring the means of subsistence even if this doesn't come through a redistribution of wealth
* Exploitation is defined by three principal criteria:
# a) the material welfare of one group of people causally depends on the material deprivations of another
# b) the causal relation in a) involves the asymmetrical exclusion of the exploited from access to certain productive resources e.g. property rights
# c) the causal mechanism that translates exclusion b) into differential welfare a) involves the appropriation of the fruits of labour of the exploited by those who control the relevant productive resources
* without the final condition we have nonexploitative economic oppression, in which the exploiters have no interest in the life/well-being of the exploited e.g. settlers/Native Americans
* exploitation doesn't just define status, but also ongoing interactions
# the dependency of exploiter on the exploited gives the exploited some power
* We can talk of exploitation in terms of surplus value, but this requires us to define 'the costs of producing and reproducing labour power' and this is difficult
* if we set it as the empirical cost of living for a person, then an extremely extravagant lifestyle could be called the cost of reproducing labour power
* if we call it basic subsistence at a culturally acceptable level, then it is a bit arbitrary
* if we set up a counterfactual model of equilibrium wage rate in an ideally egalitarian society then we get there, but it is looooong
* so we should generally talk in terms of 'the extraction and appropriation of effort'
* Marxism defines class divisions in terms of the link between property relations and exploitation
* so slaves and slave masters are classes, because a particular property relation forms a basis for exploitation
* in capitalism, exploitation is based on property rights in the means of production
# this generates three classes:
* capitalists
* workers

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