Class Consciousness in Late-Twentieth-Century America

  • David SmitEmail author


In this chapter, I explain the nature of “class consciousness” in America in light of both the standard sociological definitions in stratification theory and the Marxist sense of the term. I argue that the Marxist concept provides us with a useful tool missing from other definitions: the key concept of agency. After outlining a class-based explanation of our political system—Stanley Aronowitz’s notion of an elite political directorate composed of competing factions—I provide a relatively detailed history of the post-war decline of working-class consciousness and the concomitant rise of what I call a fully developed form of ruling-class consciousness. I chart how these forms of consciousness influenced and were influenced by politics.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kansas State UniversityManhattanUSA

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