This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Copyright 1989 PacificSociologicalAssociation
Vol. 32, No. 4, pp. 453-467 ISSN0731-1214
"CLASS"IN THE WRITINGS OF WALLERS'I'EIN AND THOMPSON: Toward a Class Struggle Analysis
ALVIN Y. SO and MUHAMMAD HIKAM
University of Hawaii, Manoa
First ABSTRACT:This articleattemptsto makethreecontributions. to of perspeccontrary theliterature's critique Wallerstein's world-system has a tive, thisarticle pointsout thatWallerstein formulatedsophisticated classanalysis.Second, article this class arguesthatWallerstein's analysis on is actually similarto Thompson's afterpointing writings class.Third, to out theproblems thehistorical utilizesthe of approach class,thisarticle and to a insightsof Wallerstein Thompson develop new class struggle analysis.
WALLERSTEIN'S WORLD-SYSTEM PERSPECTIVE
Wallerstein's world-system perspective (Wallerstein 1976; 1979; 1984; Hopkins and Wallerstein 1980; 1982) has exerted a profound impact on sociology. Thanks to it the great questions of classical sociology, such as the interplay between history and political economy, the relationship between capitalism and the worldwide division of labor, and the role of social class and state in the development of the world-system, have regained a legitimate place in sociology (Chirot and Hall 1982; Friedmann 1980). The world-system perspective is strongly influenced by the historical method of the French Annales school. Consequently, Wallerstein (1984:27) perceives social reality as being in a state of flux. He points out that "we seek to capture a moving reality in our terminology. We thereby tend to forget that the reality changes as we encapsulate it, and by virtue of that fact." In order to capture this ever-changing reality, Wallerstein (1984:27) suggests a study of "provisional long-term, large-scale wholes within which concepts have meanings. These wholes must have some claim to relative space-time autonomy and integrity .... I would call such wholes 'historical systems'." Thus Wallerstein (1977b:7) calls for three new principles in social research: "the primacy of analysis of economies over long historical time and large space, the holism of the sociohistorical process, and the transitory (heuristic) nature of theories." The real innovation of Wallerstein's world-system perspective, then, lies in its
to: Directall correspondence Alvin Y. So, Departmentof Sociology,Universityof Hawaiiat Manoa,Honolulu,HI 96822.
Wallerstein argues that historical explanation should proceed from the viewpoint of the world-system. such an approachbetrays the essential Marxistconceptionof socialclasses and simply mystifies them. From the orthodox Marxist'standpoint. We shift from of seeing classes (and status-groups) as groups within a state to seeing them as groups within a world-economy. it also has its dissenters (Brenner 1977. Wallerstein has been criticized for his unorthodox way of conceptualizing social classes. 1989 choice of the whole world as the primary unit of analysis." Similarly.. Most specificallywe shift from a concern with the attributivecharacteristics states to of concernwith the relationalcharacteristics states. The purpose of class struggle is not the eliminationof exploitationbut is conceptualizedas an effort by each class to capturea greaterportion of world surplus. Wallerstein (1976:xi) further explains that: Once we assume that the unit of analysis is such a 'worldsystem' and not the 'state' or the 'nation' or the 'people'. On the contrary. Laclau 1977. we argue in the following discussion that Wallerstein has in fact presented a sophisticated class analysis for historical research." Since we have disagreed with the critics of Wallerstein on this point. The critics focus on a question that Wallerstein (1979:23) raises but does not answer: "When then does class analysis fit in" the world-system theory? From the start. Skocpol 1977). Number 4. A major criticism of Wallerstein is his neglect of the important role of social classes in historical development. Petras (1982:149150) asserts that "to conceptualize the issues of the Third World in terms of dependency or as part of a world system is to lose sight of the most decisive processes of class formation and social relations which beget change . For instance. then much changes in the outcome of the analysis. Class Analysis It is not fair to assert that Wallerstein does not pay full attention to class analysis. Howe and Sica 1980. Petras 1978." "Class conflict in the capitalist worldWallerstein's . is highly dissatisfied because "the clarity with which classical Marxism located the question of class struggle at the center of the development and decay of capitalism has been lost. too. in world-system formulations: class relationsare not placed within the context of exploitationat the point of production but rather in the total flow of surplus value in the world market. While the world-system perspective has made significant contributions to sociology. and all phenomena are to be explained in terms of their consequences for both the totality of the world-system and its subparts. .454 SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES Volume 32. As Koo (1984:40) points out. Wallerstein has entitled a number of his articles in terms of "Class and class conflict in Africa. Fagen (1983: 16).
Furthermore. Wallerstein (1979:222) points our that: it is probablymost useful if we use it (social class) as historically specific to this kind of world-system. forms .. of course. social class is not an attribute but is always a set of changing relations with other classes in a certain historical context. and to some extent. In a coauthored article (Arrighi et al. this is because the bourgeoisie perceived that the old aristocracy was no longer relevant as a political and economic force." and "Class formation in the capitalist world-economy" (Wallerstein 1975. and they are re-formed. they are formed. According to Wallerstein.but I personally regardas the most cogent part of my book [Wallerstein 1976]chapterV. Rather. yet it still maintained its social .wearing everchanging ideologicalclothing. Wallerstein considers the distinction of class-in-itself and class-for-itself "helpful insofar as it recognizes that the self-consciousness of classes (and other groups) is not a constant but a variable. It is a process of constant movement. class consciousness emerges as a result of a group struggling with another group and articulating its interests in class terms. which is intended to be. as the title indicates. This dynamic approach to "class" has led Wallerstein to criticize Marx's distinction of class an sich and class fur sich as a static classification." For Wallerstein."CLASS" IN THE WRITINGS OF WALLERSTEIN AND THOMPSON 455 economy. which was becoming conscious of itself as a class. the crucial difference between the world-system perspective and its class critics is that they have different conceptions of social class. Wallerstein (1979:224) contends that "classes do not have some permanent reality. This dynamic and historical conceptualization of social class is. and the greatest barrier to understanding their action is reification. Wallerstein (1977a:105) responds to the charge that he did not take class analysis seriously by asserting that: not only do I think the class struggle is centralto the dynamicsof capitalism. The only social group that emerged at that time as a class was the bourgeoisie." Consequently. France) in the sixteenth century. 283-293). an analysis of why the class struggle took sometimes similar sometimes divergent. Thus.. for Wallerstein. However. in orderto see to whose advantage it is at specific points of time to define class membership in particularconceptual terms. which tends to take a political economy approach and defines social classes at the production level. quite different from that of the critics of Wallerstein. Wallerstein's historical method has reconceptualized social class as a dynamic process of perpetual re-creation and hence of constant change in form and composition. 1979:222-230. we wish to analyze here classes as evolving and changing structures. and thus cannot be defined narrowly in the production sphere. the United Provinces. Thus. In this aspect. 1983:298-299). Class analysis loses its power of explanationwhenever it moves towards formalmodels and away from dialecticaldynamics. they consolidate themselves. they disintegrate or disaggregate. For instance. Wallerstein (1975:39) shows that "class" only emerges in the core states (England.
Wallerstein argues that: the whole line between classes as they are constructedand statusgroups of every variety is far more fluid and blurred than the classic presumption of an antinomy between class and statusgroup has indicated (Arrighiet al. therefore. 1983:302). He points out that "seen in long historical time and broad world space. On the one hand. and ethnic groups is a history of the constant rise and fall of the intensity of these political claims in cultural clothing. 1983:298). Accordingly. and the history of the construction of classes. and class analysis is only meaningful to the extent that is placed within a given historicalcontext(italics in original). Discussing these intricate linkages between status group and class struggle. the bourgeoisie and proletariat often define their class interests in status-group terms and express their class consciousness in national/ethnic/religious forms. class is defined as relationship to the means of production. nations. The bourgeoisie. mobilized itself as a class and forced the aristocracy to give up some of its privileges. they fade into one another. as a dialecticalconcept should. .456 Volume Number 1989 4. Wallerstein (1975:41) cites an example indicating that the anti-imperialist nationalist struggle between the majority of the population in a periphery and the core capitalists and their local allies is a "mode of expressionof class interest and class struggle" (italics in original). this is because: class representsan antinomy. Focusing on the historical process of class consciousness and struggle. According to Wallerstein (1975:37). It is as a consequence of this antinomy of class-an sich in a world-economy. actor. they become clearly defined and so form distinctive 'structures' " (Arrighi et al. But politicalactors extent that it is organized as a political nationalstates. privileges by using law and custom. especially in regard to political and economic power. SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES 32. It is both. In Wallerstein's view. becoming only 'groups. Wallerstein's insights are expressed in his theoretical explanation of why.Class is not the are located primarilyin particular one or the other. the other hand a class is a real actoronly to On which means to the the extent that it becomes class-conscious. Wallerstein argues that status (ethnic/ national/religious) groups and social class are two sets of clothing for the same basic reality. class formations and status group formations frequently transform into one another in history. Wallerstein makes another contribution to class theory by stressing not only the dynamic process of social class but also the constant interaction between social class and status group. but fur sich in the states-that most expressions of consciousness take a status group form within a state. and hence position in the economic system which is a world-economy. in the history of the capitalist world-system.' Seen in short historical time and narrow world space.
"CLASS" IN THE WRITINGS OF WALLERSTEIN AND THOMPSON 457 Therefore. and on the linkages between classes and status groups are certainly well-taken.P." a "thing. . category. P. by referenceto Thompson's concern with problems of class formationand class consciousness. we may need to go beyond the political economy sphere in order to study the complex and ever-changing class relations of the capitalist world-system. Thompson's writings on class are similar to that of Wallerstein. especially with respect to Thompson's devastating critique of the structuralists' (Althusser and Balibar 1968) a-historical class analysis. separate. In fact." Instead. although Wallerstein is often criticized for not using class as his central analysis. And. to follow Wallerstein's line of thinking. enter into struggle. E. the role of agency. Thompson also does not perceive class as a "static category. however. P. Thompson (1977:264) formulates class as a historical relationship: But class is not. . . like Wallerstein. Thompson could be describedas the sociologists'historian." or a "structure.is (or ought to over be) a historical describing peoplein relationship time. His focuses on the historical process. "class" is seen as a group of political actors that is consciously attempting to promote its interests in the capitalist world-economy. Although classes often struggle in status group terms. On a closer inspection. the need to study class consciousness and cultural experience. . the above discussion shows that Wallerstein has indeed made significant contributions to the study of class. as will be argued below. First. in the Marxisttradition. a static category-so many people standing in this or that relationto the means of production-which can be measured in positivist or quantitativeterms. Thompson's writings on class are highly acclaimed as a breakthrough in presenting an original historical class analysis. and the multi-arena of class struggle. and the ways in which they become conscious of their relationships. . The affinity which sociologists feel for Thompson's work can be explained . Class. Thompson's As Giddens (1987:203) remarks: Class Analysis E. in Wallerstein's writings. In sum. on class consciousness and class struggle. Both stress the historical dimension of class. form institutions and transmit values in class ways (italics in original). There are few historians whom sociologists are more fond of quoting. . as some sociologists would have it. Wallerstein maintains that various forms of class struggle have been among the decisive elements that shaped the history of the capitalist world-economy since the sixteenth century (Arrighi 1986). unite. Thompson's writings on class. Wallerstein's historical class analysis is rather similar to E.
but is a "happening. this historical emphasis refers to the importance of the time dimension in defining classes. change and conflict" (italics in original). Thompson (1978a:149) perceives class struggle as a process that occurred prior to class consciousness and class formation: Classes do not exist as separate entities. In fact. find an enemy class.458 Volume Number 1989 SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES 4. By then factory industrialization had intensified the conflict in society. Thompson (1963:11) asserts that social class is not a universal category which always exists." created and recreated in specific circumstances. The historical emphasis also refers to the need to study the specific context within which social class develops. the identify points of antagnosticinterest. Thompson criticizes the structuralist perspective for incorrectly assuming that class is instantaneously present as a result of structural contradictions in the political economy. they come to know this discovery as class-consciousness. their ideas. in the end. and. as Thompson (1963:11) explains further: If we stop history at a given point. look around. Thompson also considers class consciousness and class formation as inseparable from class struggle. the definition of class "can only be made in the medium of time-that is. Therefore. they commence to struggle around these issues and in the process of strugglingthey discover themselves as classes. Class and classconsciousness are always the last. and then start to struggle. increasing the number of the industrial workers. This is because. Stressing the process of struggle in class formation. conscious class.people find themselves in a society structuredin determinedways (crucially. Only in the nineteenth century did the English workers emerge as a distinct. Class is defined by men as they live their own history. and their institutions. For Thompson (1978b:295)." Thompson (1963. and prompting them to protect their economic interests (Thompson 1963. 32. in productionrelations). similar to Wallerstein. Second. On the contrary. mostly confined to the cultural sphere. action and reaction. On this point. but not exclusively. the English workers had not yet emerged as a class although there was conflict between the plebeians and the gentry. 1978b). . not the firststage in the historical process. they experience exploitation (or the need to maintain power over those whom they exploit). Emphasizing that class is a "happening. arousing their class consciousness. 1978a) points out that in the eighteenth century. this is its only definition. then there are no classes but simply a multitudeof individualswith a multitudeof experiences but if we watch these men over an adequate period of social change. we observe patterns in their relationships. This conflict tended to take the form of plebeians asserting their customary rights in order to prevent the encroachment of the aristocracy and was quite limited in scope.
in its own turn. Thompson formulates the concept of experience to express the same idea. Thompson (1963:202-203) mentions the following historical experiences: the rise of a master-classwithout traditionalauthorityor obligations: the growing distance between master and man: the transparency of the exploitationat the source of their new wealth and power: the loss of status and above all of independence for the worker. and even culture itself.' Like other experiences. ."CLASS" IN THE WRITINGS OF WALLERSTEIN AND THOMPSON 459 Third. Thompson (1963:9) formulates class as a historical relationship. For example. as a result of common experiences (inherited or shared). Thompson sees structuralism as a "product of self-alienated reason" in which all human projects. are able to define their actions." Fourth. As Thompson (1977:266) puts it: historical change eventuates. institutions. Thompson (1978b:153) dislikes structuralism because it dismisses the role of agency. his reductionto total dependence on the master'sinstruments of production:the partialityof the law: the disruption of the traditionalfamily economy: the discipline. economic. For Thompson. not because a given 'basis' must give rise to a correspondent 'superstructure'. Thompson pays attention to the concept of agency. endeavors. inseparable from the notion of agency: "class happens when some men. refractedin men's ideas and theirvalues. feel and articulate the identity of their interests as between themselves. Consequently. but because in changes in productive relationshipsare experienced social and culturallife. and argued through in their actions. and as against other men whose interests are different from (and usually opposed to) theirs. moves men around as things. involving political. Thompson (1963) shows how workers' experience of exploitation led to a struggle against the capitalist class in nineteenth century England. and are capable of intervening in history. hours and conditions of work: loss of leisure and amenities:the reduction of the man to the status of an 'instrument. and social-psychological factors in a society. Thompson brings human beings back into class analysis. as objective things. In The Making of the English WorkingClass. in discussing the character of capitalist exploitation. who highlights the role of culture and status groups in class formation. it is the human agency's experience that gives rise to class struggles. as the "Other" which. monotony. Thompson argues that class analysis can only be fully intelligible if it posits human beings as free subjects who are conscious of their conduct. appear to stand outside of men. the experience of exploitation is a very complex social condition. Trying to avoid the error of structural determinism. like Wallerstein. class consciousness. their choices and their beliefs (emphasis in original). like Wallerstein. Thompson argues that experience is historically unique and takes different forms. In fact. although it is mostly conditioned by relations of production. and historical change.
and in their choosing they adduce rational evidence and interrogatetheir own values by rationalmeans. Thompson argues that class struggle occurs not only in the production sphere. Finally.. then attempt to build on the insights of Thompson and Wallerstein in formulating a new class struggle analysis.e. Thompson's (1963:12) concept of "agency" has led him to examine how the common people (the Luddite cropper. Conflicts of value. Thompson's style is also more polemical than Wallerstein's because Thompson poses himself as a sharp critic of structuralism. However. tradition. i. in nineteenth century England.. Besides pointing out the above similarities between Thompson's and Wallerstein's writings on class. Thompson (1963:13) further argues that "class is " Consequently. while Thompson examines social classes in a more narrow historical setting. This is to say that they are as much but no more determined in their values as in their ideas and actions. Thompson's writing is more philosophical and epistemological compared to that of Wallerstein. on struggle.460 Volume 32. their strengths are at the same time their weaknesses. culturea cultural as much as an economic formation .. For example. Consequently. Thompson seems to allow more historical contingency with respect to the impact of class struggle than Wallerstein does. they do share a common historical approach to class. the "obsolete" hand-loom weaver. and ethnicity-can be a site of class struggle through which people reassert themselves as conscious beings and construct social realities. Thompson (1978b:175) points out that there can be a struggle between alternative values and view-of-life: Men and women argue about values. Their stresses on historical dynamics. the two authors differ in their style of writing. they differ in research focus. Number 4. such as value system. religion. Emphasizing the role of class consciousness and experiences. Second. like Wallerstein. they are as much but no more "subjects" of their affective and moral consciousness as of their general history. always take place. on culture and experience. For instance. and on agency are certainly well-taken. In the following we will first evaluate the weaknesses of this historical class analysis. However. but also in other arenas. First. we should also mention their differences in class analysis. and the "utopian" artisan) made history by resisting the exploitation and domination of the nascent capitalist class in the early nineteenth century. they choose between values. despite these differences between Thompson's and Wallerstein's writings.. 1989 PERSPECTIVES SOCIOLOGICAL Finally. Thompson tends to have a more in-depth and articulated class analysis than that of Wallerstein. Due to his . and choices of value. A Critique of The Historical Approach to Class Wallerstein and Thompson have made a significant contribution in formulating a historical approach to class. Wallerstein analyzes social classes in connection with his grand capitalist world-system.
Calhoun (1982:6). Third. then it follows that there is no working class because class is assumed to be revealed not by an objectiverelationshipor class situationbut by the existence of class consciousness and class organization.. as such."CLASS" IN THE WRITINGS OF WALLERSTEIN AND THOMPSON 461 polemical statements against structuralism.Only class conscious and organized working people are part of the working class on this definition. 1860s. Murphy (1986:256) accuses Thompson of defining class membership by: an act of will rather than by objective situation. it is almost exclusively a matter of class consciousness and. nor does he analyze the relationships which bound them to each other in communities. and 1950s-Thompson's conception of class then would imply that a British working class did not exist in those periods (Johnson 1978:91-98). remarks that Thompson's "notion of class was based almost entirely on cultural considerations. both Wallerstein and Thompson have not provided us with a map of class boundary. subjectivism. neglects the important sociological dimensions of class which led Marx to see it as a potential collective actor. This is because Thompson (1963) is content to define class very . labeled as "cultural Marxist. Second. and unclear class boundaries. Thompson's historical class analysis tends to suffer from the following problems: a-structural analysis. If the petty bourgeoisie see themselves as part of the working class and if they participatein working class organizations." Thompson's works are criticized for moving away from an analysis of social structure to a greater focus on culture. despite the differences between the objective situation of the petty bourgeoisie and that of the working class ."Giddens (1987:205) has also made similar comments on the a-structural analysis of Thompson: the stylisticbrillianceof the work tends to concealthe factthat the complex meshing of objectivedeterminantsand subjectiveexperience are in fact mostly unanalyzed. On this aspect. If working people are not conscious of their identity of interest and of their opposition to other classes and are not organized... pointing out that Thompson "does not much examine structural positions of workers within the economy as a whole. there is the problem of subjectivism in Thompson's work. Following this line of thinking-since there was political disunity within the British working class in the 1700s. First. for example." Calhoun (1982:21) further elaborates this a-structural criticism of Thompson. 1850s. then they are working class and the petty bourgeoisie disappears. The spectrumof conditions which actually led to the formationof the English working class are collapsed into an opposition between protest and resistance largely internal to the ideas and behavior of the membersof the working class themselves.
It seems Thompson has overexpanded the concept of class struggle by including in it not just the struggle after forming a class. but also the struggle to form a class (or the struggle before forming a class). Calhoun accuses Thompson of chronicling not the making of the English working class but the rise and fall of the radical English artisanate. In addition. while Wallerstein is content to stress the ever-changing relationship of class. Take. in what follows we attempt to build on their strengths of historical class analysis in developing a new approach which we call class struggle analysis. and unclear class boundaries. Thus. Thus. Still. are a-structural analysis. still has not fully clarified the theoretical concept of class struggle. forms class organization to protect its interests. . or a wide-meshed net which catches virtually no one. or what in fact his 'working people' net does catch. Toward a Class Struggle Analysis Thompson has contributed by insisting that the focus of class analysis should be on class struggle. it is a happening. therefore. subjectivism. On this point.462 SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES Volume 32. This is because. the timing of class struggle. But Thompson. The literatures' criticisms of historical class analysis. as Thompson (1978a:149) asserts. and starts struggling with other classes to attain hegemony. as a historian. Calhoun (1982:20) also criticizes Thompson for using the single term "working class" for the many different kinds of working people. When does class struggle begin? Does class struggle begin whenever a group of people starts to struggle? Or does class struggle begin only after a group of people has acquired class consciousness and struggled in class terms? Thompson is not clear on this point. Number 4. Thompson correctly stresses that class struggle is not a onetime event but a protracted process in which a group discovers itself as a class. Since we maintain that Thompson and Wallerstein have provided many insights to develop class analysis further. for example. This focus on class struggle will open up a whole new agenda for sociological research. One can hardlydisagreewith the statement that the 'finest-meshed sociological net cannot give us a pure specimen of class. it is only through the process of struggle that classes emerge and play a role in shaping history. Murphy (1986:255-256) asserts that Thompson has failed: to make explicitand clarifytheoreticallythe implicitconceptionof 'the working people' which underlies his subsequent conception of the working class. the critics complain that it is not clear who belongs to which class in the writings of Thompson and Wallerstein. any more than it can give us one of deference or of love' (Thompson 1963:9)yet it would be helpful to know whether Thompson is using a finely-meshed net which catches almost everyone in the 'working people'. 1989 loosely in order to stress the point that class itself is not a thing.
Following this class struggle thinking. in the 1920s. may realize that racism is a product of the capitalist world-system rather than a product of psychological and cultural values. they . Black workers then may unite with white workers in attacking the capitalist class. ethnic. and at other moments of historical evolution. Examining this intricate connection between status group and class struggle. The struggle may be crushed and defeated. when a struggle first begins. Treating status group struggle as a correct or an opposite "expression" of class struggle seems to deny that status group struggle can have its own dynamics. Status group struggle can be transformed into class struggle because the experience in status group struggle may arouse the participants' desire to engage in class struggle. generational. it seems that whether the participants present their issues in status group terms or in class terms is also a product of struggle. Wallerstein's formulation may lead to a criticism of class reductionism. there is also the chance that black workers see the conflict as a racial issue and attack the racist white workers instead of attacking the capitalists. national/ethnic/race the most realisticexpression-of class consciousness. Wallerstein (1984:8) remarks that: it may well be that under certain conditions. black workers. it seldom takes the form of pure class struggle but is always intertwined with gender. tend to dismiss status group struggles as irrelevant to the study of class analysis. Wallerstein seems to ignore the possibility that once the participants start to struggle. status group struggle can divide a class into different class segments. when the plantation laborers in Hawaii wanted a wage increase. is to bring the status group struggle back into class analysis. paying no attention to class issues. in fighting against white racism."CLASS" IN THE WRITINGSOF WALLERSTEIN AND THOMPSON 463 We argue that struggle to form (or before forming) a class should not be conceptualized as class struggle because of the goal of class formation may not materialize. For example. it is precisely the opposite. in general. However. the participants may discover broader class issues that go beyond status group issues. national. To illustrate this idea with the previous example. Wallerstein's insight is to point out the fluidity of the boundary between status group struggle and class struggle. Therefore. During the struggling process. but also have to struggle to debunk their opponents' claims. As such. For example. and at certainmoconsciousness is an expression-even ments. or may be diverted to other forms of non-class struggle. they may be so carried away by status group issues that they will continue to engage in status groups struggle. in order to avoid class reductionism. promoting intraclass struggle at the expense of interclass struggle. The participants not only have to struggle to present their own labels. In fact. Wallerstein's contribution. so participants in the struggle may not even have a chance to articulate their actions in class terms. Conventional Marxist researchers. therefore. and religious issues. class research must examine status group struggle independently as well as interactively with class struggle. regional. while it is possible that black workers may unite with white workers to fight against the capitalist class.
class struggle is not simply confined to the sphere of production but can exist in other arenas as well. to the state. to the domestic market. they have to struggle with other classes before they can lay a claim to whether they are a class or a status group. to the interstate system. It is clear that as class struggle develops. in order for class struggle to play a role in history. so is the arena of conflict. In other words. and to the capitalist world-system as a whole. Wallerstein's insight. Thompson has discussed the struggle of cultural values in the community while Wallerstein has examined the struggle among the bourgeois class in the state arena. As such. In fact. then. an agenda for class struggle analysis is to examine under what conditions class struggles intensify and spread from one arena to another. workers have to struggle not just for wages and job security in the factory. but it must also specify the conditions under which status group struggle has its own dynamics and dislocates class struggle. then. Number 4. The capitalist class especially wants to glorify the model of privatized home-centered workers who show little interest in union affairs and class issues. for working class struggles to spread and shape history. and under what conditions are they nullified and confined to a small domain. Instead.. A research agenda for class struggle analysis. raising different kinds of issues. the capitalist class always wants to depoliticize the workers and limit the working class struggle to narrow bread-and-butter issues. not only must spell out the conditions under which status group struggle is an expression of class struggle. for the control of the state bureaucracy. it will spread from the workplace and the production sphere to the local community. it has to be intensified from one arena to another. it is important to understand why the participants sometimes label their conflict in status group terms while in other periods articulate their issues in class terms. If the form of conflict (class versus status group) is a historical product of struggle. it is not up to the participants to identify themselves with whatever labels they like. Thompson's and Wallerstein's contribution is to point out the aspects of multi-arena class struggle. For example. In this light. Even though the subordinate class wants to expand the arena of struggle. the plantation owners in Hawaii responded by presenting the issue as racial antagonism between the loyal white Americans and the unfaithful Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. However. it must be emphasized that the arena in which the struggle takes place is also a historical product of class struggle. and the multi-arena of struggle.e. On the other hand. for cutbacks on defense spending in the state. how can this class struggle approach . The Japanese workers and the white plantation owners then struggled to define the issue at the expense of the other class (Takaki 1983). Focusing on the struggling process. and recruiting various kinds of supporters.464 SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES Volume 32. i. Although Wallerstein's assertion is correct. for cheaper housing in the neighborhood. the dominant class always wants to confine it to a small domain. etc. 1989 identified themselves as the working class and defined the issue as a class struggle between workers and capitalists. for less pollution in the region. the changing status group and class struggle. is to point out that class struggle is always transforming and ever-expanding. but also for better education and health care in the community.
the structural contradictions in the political economy have served to delineate the potential line of struggle among different classes.. Nevertheless. On the other hand. take partial or full control of the state. make its influences felt on institutions such as the corporation and the community. it must be stressed that class struggle emerges in a structural setting and its contour is shaped by structural components. the political structure such as legal regulations and state repression. therefore. the structural constraints (e. and the historical heritage of class struggle. gradually transform the existing political economy. On the one hand. From a class struggle viewpoint. and need to get rid of the inappropriate labels assigned to them. the participants need to struggle with other classes."CLASS" IN THE WRITINGS OF WALLERSTEIN AND THOMPSON 465 overcome the problems of historical class analysis such as a-structural analysis. human agency transforms the class structure through multiple expressions of class struggle in different arenas. drop. the cultural sphere such as the presence of religion. On the one hand. Third. class struggle will create a new structure which. subjectivism. Instead. On the other hand. Hence. dual labor market. or change their own class/status label. the development. The existing economic structure such as the rate of exploitation and accumulation crisis. and block the happening of class struggle. in turn. it is important . and the prospect for class struggle. In the beginning stage of class research. An important research agenda for class struggle analysis. social classes are not passive agents and class behavior is not completely dictated by the role requirements of the class structure.g. before they are finally "free" to identify the label that matches their own interests. fragmentize. and unclear boundaries? First. the research focus on class struggle may help to avoid the problem of subjectivism in historical class analysis. it is also clear that social classes do not make history as they please. During the process of class struggle. which frequently assumes that people can freely assign. all serve to shape the rise. Second. in order to avoid a-structural analysis. As such. the focus on class struggles may help to answer the critics' charge of unclear class boundaries. They make history within a specific structural context that limits their options for struggle-particularly when they are making history within the context of the capitalist world-system. political repression. an agenda of class struggle analysis is to specify the intricate connection between human agency and those structural necessities. subjectivism is highly unlikely because participants in a struggle seldom have the free will to choose the class/status labels they like. which is more powerful than its preceding world empires. as class struggle progresses. is to examine the mechanisms by which class struggle is promoted by structural contradictions on one hand and undermined by structural constraints on the other. the class/ status label that the participants want to identify with is always a historical product of class struggle. In this respect. and thus. may create both new opportunities and constraints for the participants in struggle. class struggle analysis needs to bring the structural components back into focus. lack of leadership and communication) may serve to de-politicize. it will lead to the formation of class organizations. In other words.
and under what conditions are they nullified and confined to a small domain." Review6:283-304. Robert. is to examine the changing composition of participants in different phases of the class struggle process. to be welcomed as allies. This is because this class structure analysis helps to lay down the structural contradictions among different classes and describe the potential conflict in which class struggle would occur. Farideh Farhi. . ReadingCapital. the boundary issue itself is a historical product of struggle. Louis and Etienne Balibar. 1986. Subsequently. as well as how class struggle creates new structures and modifies old ones. Pock and the two anonymous reviewers were also very helpful in revising the article. once struggle has started. Brenner. allies. An agenda for class struggle analysis. 1983. Ravi Palat. 1989 to draw a map of the class structure and to delineate the boundaries of various classes. "Rethinking the Concepts of Class and StatusGroup in a World-System Perspective. 1968. To sum up. (2) To spell out the intricate connection between status group struggle and class struggle: under what conditions they transform into one another an under what conditions they have their own dynamics. and enemies will also change. G. The authors Acknowledgments: want to thank Val Burris. Thus the problem of unclear boundaries will always be present in class struggle research." Social Research 53:185206.466 SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES Volume 32. "The Origins of . therefore. "Dilemmasof Antisystemic Movements. Which class and status group are to be counted on as the main supporters. Very often. it is necessary to carry out the following research agenda of class struggle analysis: (1) To specify the intricate connection between human agency and the structural conditions: how structure at the same time promotes and limits class struggle. 1977. the struggle process is so dynamic that it moves from one form to another (class versus various status groups) and from one arena to another (production sphere versus other spheres). Number 4. in order to go beyond the historical class analysis. to be neutralized. Arrighi. However. as a struggle changes its form and arena.. and to be treated as the main enemies are heatedly contested issues decided only by the participants in struggle. Terence Hopkins. Alvin Y. and Robert Stauffer for their helpful comments and criticisms. As discussed above. it may have a life of its own and go beyond the contours laid down by the class structure. (4) To investigate the changing composition of participants in different phases of the class struggle process. REFERENCES Althusser. the class boundaries of and the class labels given to its supporters. (3) To examine under what conditions are class struggles intensified and spreading from one arena to another. and Immanuel Wallerstein. The suggestions of John C. London: New Left Books. Hagen Koo. Ben Kerkvliet. So gratefully acknowledges the support of the Social Science Research Institute at the University of Hawaii in preparing this article.
"Wallerstein's World Capitalist System: A Theoretical and Historical Critique. and the Problem of World-System Theory. "Edward Richard." The Indian Historical Review 3:247-266." New Left Review 104:25-92. New York: Vintage. Marion J. . Anthony." CurrentPerspectivesin Social Theory 1:235-286. The Making of the English WorkingClass. Ernesto. "The Capitalist World-Economy. 1982. Craig. . 1978. . Cambridge: Cambridge University. 1984. Levy. 1984. CriticalPerspectiveson Imperialismand Social Class in the Third World."CLASS" IN THE WRITINGS OF WALLERSTEIN AND THOMPSON 467 Capitalist Development: A Critique of Neo-Smithian Marxism. . Skocpol. Ronald. . University of Hawaii Press. 1976. . . "Dependency and WorldSystem Theory: A Critique and New Directions. Murphy. Modernization and the Structure of Societies. Anthropology." Pp. World-SystemAnalysis. 1982. Beverly Hills: Sage. Petras. Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory. Calhoun. 1977. Chirot. Daniel and Thomas D. . 1963. . 1978. 1980. The Modern World-System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the EuropeanWorld Economy in the Sixteenth Century. and Social History. 1986. 1982. Beverly Hills: Sage. 1978a. and State in Third World Development. Class. 1977." Contemporary Sociology 9:246-9. and Alan M. London: New Left. 1983. Fagen. "Theories of Development: The Question of Class Struggle.P. Giddens. Wallerstein. Boulder: Westview Press. Process of the WorldSystem. The Capitalist WorldEconomy." Sociological Perspectives 27:33-52. Thompson. London: Merlin. The Question of Class Struggle. 1977a. "World Systems. Takaki. Social Theory and Modern Sociology. Friedmann. Eugene Genovese. "World-System Theory. James. "Folklore. 1975. E." American Journal of Sociology 82:1075-90. 1966. 1977b. Howe. "How Do We Know Class Struggle When We See It?" Insurgent Sociologist 7:104-106. Jr. Laclau. "The Tasks of Historical Social Science. Honolulu. edited by Ronald H. "Political Economy. Terence and Immanuel Wallerstein. and Socialist-Humanist History. Koo. Hagen. Richard R. 1978b. New York: Monthly Review. The Politics of the Capitalist World-Economy. Pau Hana: Plantation Lifeand Laborin Hawaii. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Imperialism." Monthly Review 26:34-42." Review 1:3-7. Harriet. Chilcote. Immanuel. Johnson." Sociology 20:247-64. "Class and Class Conflict in Africa. 1977." Monthly Review 35:13-24. Hall. 148-155 in Dependency and Marxism. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 1987. "Eighteen-Century English Century Society: Class Struggle Without Class. 1980. 1979." Annual Review of Sociology 8:81-106. "The Concept of Class in Closure Theory." Social History 4:133165. Thompson. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1980. New York: Academic. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Gary N. Raymond. Theda. 1983. Hopkins. The Poverty of Theory and Other Essays." History WorkshopJournal 6:79-100. 1982. Sica. .
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?