Karl Marx defined the working class as “Individuals who sell their labor power for wages and who do not own the means of production.” In today’s hierarchical structure of the class system, the working class tends to fall into one of the many different levels of what is known as the middle class. At one time a fairly easy description of the majority of the American people, the middle class now has a more complex depiction with its own internal hierarchical system which consists of upper middle, middle, or lower middle.
According to our textbook, the working class falls into the lower middle class section and consists of blue-collar and service workers. I suppose I have always had an idea in my mind of what jobs consisted of the working class, but to my surprise the textbook listed policemen and firefighters as being among the working class. Although they definitely fall into the category of service I guess I was taken aback by the idea of the men and women who are on the streets protecting us are one “class ladder rung” away from being part of the lower class in our society; being part of the displaced and poor. I guess it made me think of where our priorities are when it comes to defining class and its many different distinctions.
These days an appropriate face of the working class can be found camped out just a few blocks away at our very own City Hall. The Occupy Philadelphia Demonstration is full of working class people who are desperately trying to get their voices heard, mostly in order to gain better wages and benefits. Take a walk around the protest and you can probably count on one hand how many doctors, lawyers, and CEOs are participating. The people involved are mostly middle class, working class, people who in this economic downfall, need help to better their situations. They are people who work hourly jobs, do not have health care, nor have much in the way of a security net if something where to go wrong. Again, the textbook mentions that many people in the working class are barely hanging on to that spot in the class structure as it is. I myself fall into the working class category so it is scary to think how short of a fall it is down the ladder.