Sociology Index


The embourgeoisement thesis states that participation in the second economy provides a person with the skills and experiences necessary for successful self-employment after market reforms start.

Embourgeoisement thesis argues that contrary to the class conflict perspective theory of Karl Marx (1818-1883), increasing numbers of the working class will come to assume the life style and individualistic values of the middle class and will reject commitment to collective social and economic goals. The opposite of embourgeoisement would be class consciousness.

Some Economic Aspects of Embourgeoisement in Australia - R. Parsler
This paper attempts to test hypotheses based on the embourgeoisement thesis, and its variations, in a social system with a strong equalitarian ideology and compulsory arbitration for all sections of the work force. It assesses the economic differences between white collar and blue collar workers and also the difference between these groups and a middle class group.

It also compares the Australian situation with America and Britain. It finds a significant difference between blue collar and white collar income rates, total income medians and career income medians, as against the apparent near parity of the situation in Britain and America. These differences are not mitigated by wives' earnings or income from other sources. There is an almost complete dichotomy between these groups and the middle class group. - Sociology, Vol. 4, No. 2 (1970)

Embourgeoisement among Blue-collar Workers?
Joan Talbert Dalia, Avery M. Guest, University of Washington
The Sociological Quarterly 16 (3), 291–304.
Abstract: This paper examines the notion that blue-collar workers have been converting from working-class to middle-class orientations as a consequence of gains in income and education over the past few decades. Cross-sectional analysis of survey data for white workers and spouses reveals that a considerable manual-nonmanual subjective class schism persists when remaining differences in income and education are taken into account. The gap is maintained both by an adherence to working-class identification among blue-collar workers at all socioeconomic levels and by a weaker tendency for these workers, compared with white-collar workers, to use income and educational status as criteria for self-placement in the class system. Longitudinal analysis further indicates that embourgeoisement among blue-collar workers has been slight and suggests that the manual-nonmanual gap in class orientations is widening.

Affluence and the Embourgeoisement of the Working Class: A Critical Look 
James W. Rinehart, Social Problems, Vol. 19, No. 2 (Autumn, 1971), pp. 149-162
Abstract: This paper evaluates the thesis that manual workers in advanced capitalist societies increasingly are adopting middle-class modes of thought and behavior, and that blue-collar prosperity is responsible for this process. A review of the literature reveals substantial differences in earnings, market situations, life styles, working conditions, and politics of manual and non-manual workers. Furthermore, advocates of the embourgeoisement thesis usually rely on economic variables to explain workers' political responses, but the literature indicates that social relationships and the nature of blue-collar work are more important determinants. Consequently, we conclude that the degree of working-class affluence and embourgeoisement has been exaggerated.

Studying Social Class: The Case of Embourgeoisement and the Culture of Poverty 
Garth Massey - Social Problems, Vol. 22, No. 5 (Jun., 1975), pp. 595-608
Abstract: The question of changing social class, and in particular of classes in close proximity, has been explored since the early 1960s. This paper examines two perspectives, the cultural and the situational, in the context of the culture of poverty thesis and the thesis of "embourgeoisement." Both cases exemplify serious weaknesses in social class research, weaknesses that are traced to the failure of each to deal adequately with the relationship of culture to class structure. A third perspective, the adaptational, is proposed to provide a more viable framework for the analysis of changing social classes by seriously considering the features and processes of class-culture.

Optimism of the intellect, pessimism of the will
By the mid-1960s, in what bourgeois sociologists and politicians proclaimed to be a contradiction-free post-war capitalist world, the embourgeoisement theorists were winning the argument. Adorno now insisted that 'society' was 'irresistably turning bourgeois'.

The refutation of the 'embourgeoisement thesis' in the 1960s: J.Goldthorpe et al, The Affluent Worker in the Class Structure chapters 1 & 6 - Proletarianization thesis only looks at the production side, while the embourgeoisement thesis refers only to the distributional aspect.