Social Scientist. v 4, no. 40-41 (Nov-Dec 1975) p. 55.


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MARTIN OPPENHE1MER

Women Office Workers: Petty-Bourgeoisie or New Proletarians?

TO NO other social strata have so many contradictory missions been assigned than to the white collar strata. To some, the upper categories of managers, officials, professionals, and technical workers represent the dawn of a new age of philosopher-kings, or conversely the conquest of humanity by a dismal, pervasive bureaucracy. To others, this same upper tractile suggests a new phase of human development, neither capitalist nor socialist. Still others see at least one group at the upper levels as having the inherent capacity to rule or to ruin—the owners! Lower down, about the remaining mass of white collarites, equally conflicting notions prevail: as constituting the underpinning to totalitarian movements mainly of the Right, possibly also of the Left or may be the tail-end of whatever fashionable current comes along, usually the wrong kind and most likely fascism; as representing a new middle class, neither traditional nor proletarian, reflecting the consensus of a relatively conflictless, affluent, post-industrial society; as fathering a student stratum which will constitute a vanguard force to lead the class to revolutionary change; as the breeding ground for a new cultural grouping which will revolutionize society by dropping out and creating new cultural forms; and as either alone or in tandem with the blue-collar working class, becoming a new proletariat to perform the historic mission of overthrowing capitalist society.



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