Essay on Cultural Anthro - Karl Marx

1293 Words 6 Pages
“Where some possess much, and the others nothing, there may arise an extreme- either out of the most rampant democracy, or out of an oligarchy.'; This was once said by Aristotle who was probably the first to recognize the importance of a middle class. A powerful debate whether the middle class is essentially defined by cultural or economic factors still remains an issue. A rich tradition is devoted to disentangling economic from cultural components of a class. According to Karl Marx, the middle class is an outgrowth of economic factors, primarily capitalism. Many people tend to disagree with Marx that capitalism is the only important factor in the outgrowth of the middle class. Judith R. Blau argues that her understanding of …show more content…
Blau believes that although economic factors defined class lines, the real differences were not so much economic as linked to the cultural significance of differences in lifestyles and occupations. The middle class increasingly defined a cultural basis for itself, and cultural roles played an increasing role in shaping institutions. Lifestyles and institutions that provided the vital cultural identity of the American middle class in the early origins were contingent on a set of unique historical conditions. These conditions initially involved great economic inequalities, with the concentration of wealth in the hands of a small minority and a substantial proportion of the population living at or below subsistence wages. This was followed by rapidly increasing affluence and declining inequalities.

     Judith Blau explains how ‘having roots’ and cultural heritage became a part of the class lifestyle. Rules regarding class identity became increasingly flexible as middle class lifestyle and the cultural codes of the middle class became widely shared while sufficient numbers of people were close enough to immigrant origins to celebrate diversity.
     
Many factors after the Great Depression made the celebration of diversity possible. First, New Deal provisions improved the income of workers and expanded jobs. Second, economic growth helped to reduce the

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