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The Service Class Essay, Research Paper

The service class as defined by the Oxford Dictionary of Sociology (Gordon Marshall,

1998) is;?A

term first used by the Austro-Marxist Karl Renner to describe employees in Government

(Civil Servants), private economic service (Business administrators, managers,

technical experts), and social services (?distributors of welfare?. ?Subsequently

adopted by the by the British sociologist?

John H Goldthorpe, to describe

those whose employment relationship is based on a code of service rather than

a labour contract, and so involves trust as a key element with autonomy as its corollary??.

However it has always been difficult to classify the service class for Marxists,

as unlike the proletariats they have skills and expertise.The

service class categorises how high level, non-manual workers (i.e. managers and


such as doctors or lawyers) are perceived with regards to their class. Goldthorpe?s

service class included the top level of the white-collar middle class. The service

class has increased greatly in size and importance over the twentieth century compared

to other white-collar services. Goldthorpe?s ?Intergenerational class mobility

among men in England and Wales (1972)? showed this, where 14% of fathers

had occupied a service class position, nearly twice as many sons (27%) occupied

the same positions. His table also said ( A. Giddens, Human Societies 1992) that

73% of those aged 35 and over in the service class had had first jobs in other classes,

showing a high proportion of social mobility to be evident. This Nuffield study

(Goldthorpe, Llewellyn and Payne) was contrary to previous studies, which had shown

classes to be largely self-recruiting. The demand for highly qualified professionals

has meant a great increase in upward social mobility, as sheer numbers needed

to fill these positions has left the door open for movement within the classes.?Galbraith thinks that the service class is

the new dominant class. He speaks of how previously

the land owners were the dominant group, however the rise of capitalism showed

that those who owned the capital to be the dominant class, then with industrialisation

capital became abundant and so skills and knowledge becomes the dominant

resource.? This gave rise to what was

termed the ?managerial revolution?, where

the separation of ownership from control enables managers to command vast sums

in return for their specialised knowledge. The

development of increasingly complex occupational hierarchies occurred in both manufacturing

and services, and were accompanied by the rapid growth of? higher education

from the 1880s (Devine, Social class in America and Britain, 1997)C

Wright Mills stated that the old middle class is now in decline as the

entrepreneurs are

no longer able to compete with large corporations and their specialisation.The

service class brings many problems for classification? of location, Wright, gives a model

where he states that the service class is in a contradictory class location between

the bourgeoisie and the proletariats (also between the bourgeoisie and the petty

bourgeoisie ?and between the petty bourgeoisie

and the working class).Bilton,

Bonnett, Jones, Stanworth, Sheard and Webster (Introductory Sociology, 1989)

think that non manual workers have been subject to a wholesale downgrading, where

there boundary with the working class is actually broken. They note that in 1851

there were only around 60 000 clerks (mostly male) working in mainly professional

settings (Banks, solicitors etc.), but by 1981 there was 13 000 000? clerks and

associated? office, retail and ?personal

service? staff , who consisted of both male and

female working particularly in large scale impersonal office blocks, on low pay


with little chance of a career, so to what extent can we say that this marginal


class really ?that different from the

working class? Goldthorpe argues that they have

not been proletarianised, he sees them as constituting part of an intermediate class,

in-between the service class and the working class. The

upper class can be defined according to both Weberian and Marxist approaches in


with the ownership of productive capital, and also distinctive culture and status


where does the service class fit in? The middle class is sometimes referred to

as the

service ?class(Social

Class in Britain and America, Fiona Devine, 1997) however there are many different

sectors within the middle classes and it is not possible to find a distinct economic,

social and political similarities, divisions have to be made. Distinctions

are? made

between the old entrepreneurial middle class and the new ?salaried? middle class,

or between managers and professionals (Devine, Social class in America and Britain,


Renner stated that high level bureaucrats constituted a service class as they served

their employers by controlling and regulating the processes of production.Goldthorpe

(1982) predicted that the service class would be a conservative force, occupying

privileged employment positions with favourable intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.

He argued that they would seek to use the superior resources that they posses in

order to preserve their positions of relative social power and advantage for themselves

and their children (Fiona Devine, Social Class in America and Britain, 1997).Lash

and Urry (1987) argued that the service class is tightly connected with the

rise of the

welfare state, hence these people would be concerned with the welfare services

as well

as other political activities on the left of the political spectrum. (feminist

groups, environmental

groups etc.) (Devine, Social class in America and Britain, 1997).Ehrenreich

and Ehrenreich (1979) noted the growth of the professional managerial class

(PMC), they stated that the PMCs main function is one of social control, so

they are

in opposition? to capitalists with

regards to issues such as ownership and control, and

their interests are also in opposition to the working class, they become an independent

?reservoir of radicalism? and through owning knowledge they own social power-

power to manipulate as in the case of Harold Shipman, his profession meant he

was given trust and power, or power to command?

extortionate fees, as with the top managers

of this class. (Devine tells that Kristol (1972) and Moynihan (1979) see this class

as a frustrated group is search of power and status in its own interests) Kristol

(1972) and Moynihan?s (1979) view is backed up by the article included form the

Guardian.? Here it says that Michael

Jackson?s (Channel 4 chief executive) pay rose

by £42 000 in 2000, making it more than £500 000 overall, however it also

states that

he gets significantly less than other bosses in the commercial sector. So what

is it that

enables these service class managers to command such fees? Knowledge. This section

of the class, along with top lawyers or consultants has the power to command excessive

fees because they are in a position to manipulate, due to the separation of ownership

from control. Within Bureaucratic corporations the top managers are separated

from their workers, having little contact, and so they have no social ties with

either the working class or the capitalist class, they are ?a frustrated group

in search

of power and status.? ?BibliographySociology

? Anthony Giddens- Oxford – 1993Introductory

Sociology ? Bilton, Bonnett, Jones, Stanworth, Sheard and Webster (Foreward by

Anthony Giddens)- London- 1989Social

Class in America and Britain ? Fiona Devine ? Edinburgh ? 1997Oxford

Dictionary of Sociology ? Gordon Marshall ? Oxford ? 1998On

The Service Class, its Formation and Future ? John Goldthorpe

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