Sociology/social classes


QUESTION: Dear Dr Carpinelle,
Would be great if you kindly let me know: What do Marxists mean by saying "they (this or that social group)do not form a class in the real sense of the word"? When and how a social group turn to a "full social class"? Does the number of people matter in making a social class according to Marxism?
Thanks in advance.

ANSWER: According to Marxism, men not only reflect the objective world but they also can change it. To do this the subordinate and oppressed class (for Marx, the working class) must enter in conflict with the dominating and exploitative class (for Marx, the capitalist bourgeoisie class) for then get rid of this last one.
Of course this change cannot happen in a deterministic and mechanic way - says Marx. Men are not only production forces, but they are also the product of a centuries-old political, religious and cultural history.
That’s why - according to Marx - the working class, which is the actor of the overthrow/change of the current system must be transformed from “class in itself” to a “class for itself”, where the first indicates only an amorphous set of people who are in the same position with respect to the ownership of the means of production (they are not the owners of means of production, but only provide the labor-force), the second indicates a group of people who take consciousness of living the same condition of exploitation and subordination, thus becoming revolutionary active force, necessary for the tilting of the system. Membership in the class becomes a factor purely “qualitative” rather than “quantitative”. The strength is measured not in terms of how many are members of the class, but from the level of consciousness acquired by the group, that changes this last one in a revolutionary force capable of making change.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: thanks for the helpful reply. still, please let me know specifically what is a social class "in the real sense of the word"? will getting organized could be the highest "level of consciousness" of a class?

The concept of social class is fundamental to the study of stratification and inequality in a society. This study makes possible not only identify the social forces within a society, but also how these forces interact dynamically with each other. In this sense, the social class refers to aggregates of individuals who occupy a same social and economic position within a hierarchically structured complex social system. What determines the position of a class varies from society to society. The most common factors (but not only these, obviously) to identify a social position are the power, wealth, prestige. These factors allow you to "order" aggregates of individuals within social classes and study then (the midpoint of the sociological study) as well structured society from the point of view of social stratification and inequality, of dynamics between classes which can be conflicting or integrated.
This is a general definition of social class. It undergoes significant variations according to different sociological schools of thought.


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dr. Cristina Carpinelli


Cristina Carpinelli is a sociologist/politologist. She deals with research works, from economic and social point of view, concerning Central-Est Europe (Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland), South-Est Europe (Bulgaria, Romania, balkan Countries), Russia and all Former Soviet Union Countries. She has also become an expert on social welfare and gender and family politics in Countries mentioned above. She can't answer the questions relative to other geo-economic and political areas or about other questions outside her competence/knowledge. She lives and works in Milan (Italy).


Cristina Carpinelli wrote many articles and essays on the Ussr and on the transition of the Fsu from a planned economic system to a free market one. She wrote some books published by Nuovi Autori, Franco Angeli, Achab, Sedizioni, Zambon, Mimesis, Amazon.

She is a Scientific Committee Member of CeSPI (International Problems Study Center of Sesto San Giovanni - Milan ) as an expert on CEE (Central-Eastern Europe) and South-Eastern Europe (including Russia), and a monthly contributor to “noidonne” Magazine for gender and family politics in CEE (including Russia). She is part of the team experts of the U.S. Site “AllExperts” for the categories: “Sociology” and “Russia (News & Politics)”. She was part of the teaching staff for the training module “Objective Russia” (professional diploma for economic operators - ISPI school; module suspended from 2015) and now She is part of the teaching staff for the training module “European Union and ethnic and national minorities” (diploma in “European Affairs” - ISPI school). She is a member of the Italian Association for History Studies on Central and Eastern Europe (AISSECO - Since May 2015) and a member of the editorial staff of Mitteleuropean Social Watch (OSME - since January 2016).

La società sovietica negli anni della perestroika (Nuovi Autori, 1991); Donne e famiglia nella Russia sovietica (F. Angeli, 1998); Donne e povertà nella Russia di El’cin: l'era della transizione liberale (Franco Angeli, 2004); “Identities in Transition: Fsu Countries after the Collapse of Real Socialism” (CeSPI, 2004); La Russia a pezzi (Achab, 2008); “L’allargamento dell’Europa ai paesi dell’Est” (CeSPI, 2008), paper presented at the Conference “Quo vadis, Europe?”, organized by Municipality of Sesto San Giovanni - Milan, November 18, 2011; “Paesi Baltici tra integrazione europea e ‘apartheid’” in: Ripensare l’Europa dalle fondamenta, Mimesis, 2014 (Conference proceedings “Ripensare l’Europa dalle fondamenta”. Conference was organized by CeSPI and Municipality of Sesto San Giovanni - Milan; November 30, 2013); “Ucraina: un paese spaccato in due” (CeSPI, 2014), paper prepared for the Conference “Crisi Ucraina: quali possibili chiavi di lettura?” (May 16, 2014) organized by the Municipality of Sesto San Giovanni (Milan) and by CeSPI; “Nato, Ucraina, Russia” (CeSPI, 2014); L’Unione Europea e le minoranze etniche: Case Studies: Ungheria, Romania e Paesi Baltici, co-author Massimo Congiu (CreateSpace - an Company, May 18, 2016). Coming soon: Russia as told through the history of its mass media.

Cristina Carpinelli graduated during the academic year 1983/84 with the thesis "Alcuni aspetti del processo di invecchiamento della popolazione in Unione Sovietica: demografia, previdenza sociale, occupazione e salute" (Some aspects of the ageing process of the population in the Soviet Union: demography, social security, jobs and health) - State University of Milan, Faculty of Political Sciences (Statistics Department). The thesis of degree was elaborated in the Ussr, at the State University Lomonosov of Moscow.

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