The Petty Commodity Producer in Third World Cities: Petit-Bourgeois or ‘Disguised’ Proletarian?

  • Chris Gerry
  • Chris Birkbeck
Part of the Edinburgh Studies in Sociology book series (ESIS)


The definition of class according to the nature of the relations of production has traditionally centred on the distinction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, a focus which has involved the identification of concepts which are in direct contradiction — the private ownership of the means of production by a privileged minority and the necessary sale of labour power by the majority. This situation is mirrored in the essentially antagonistic relationship normally existing between the two classes, which finds expression, at least in theory, in the ideologies of each class. Whilst the division between bourgeois and proletarian may be used as the foundation of class analysis, it does not take account of the complexities of class formation which may exist at any stage in the development (or, indeed, the overthrow) of capitalism. The dissolution of ‘pure’ ownership of the means of production into separate but closely related functions of possession and control (Wright, 1976, pp. 21–6) and the consequent existence of more complex technical relations of production (for example the functions of foremen, supervisors and managers) is evidence that there are some jobs- perhaps the majority in advanced industrial society — which combine within the individual, elements of both the classical bourgeois and proletarian roles in the production process. Additionally, there may be persons who are self-employed and who appear to lie outside the principal sphere of large-scale capitalism.


Class Formation Class Location Capitalist System World City Capitalist Relation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Frank Bechhofer and Brian Elliott 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chris Gerry
  • Chris Birkbeck

There are no affiliations available

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