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Class formation and capitalism. A second look at a classic*

  • Margaret R. Somers (a1)

Abstract

Studies of class-formation have long been dominated by an espitemology of absensethe study of the absence of Marx's predicted revolutionary class consciousness among the Western working class. Katznelson's and Zolberg's pathbreaking Working-Class Formation: Ninetenth-century Patterns in Western Europe and the United States (1986) posed a major challenge to this tradition. Instead of being seen as deviant or exceptional, moreover, the individual cases of class formation are analysed as variations that can only be explained by each nation's pattern of historicalprimarily politicalformation. An instant classic, Working-Class Formation has not to date been surpassed by subsequent studies. This essay reviews the strenghts and the weaknesses of this classic volume, suggesting in the final analysis that it does not quite realize the full extent of its radical implications.

Les travaux sur la formation des classes sociales ont t longtemps domins par une pistmologie de l'absence de conscience rvolutionnaire de la classe ouvrire europenne annonce par Marx. L'ouvrage pionnier de Katznelson et Zolberg, Working-Class Formation: Nineteenth-century Patterns in Western Europe and the United States (1986) a rompu avec cette tradition en prsentant un volume comparatiste rigoureux. L'introduction de Katznelson, en particulier, dfinit les conclusions conceptuelles possibles mises en jeu dans les trajectoires de la formation de classe. Au lieu d'tre perus comme dviants ou exeeptionnels , les cas nationaux sont analyss comme des variations ne pouvant tre expliques que par le modle de formation historique principalement politique de chaque nation. Devenu immdiatement classique, Workingclass Formation n'a pas, ce jour, t dpass. Cet essai passe en revue les forces et les faiblesses de l'uvre, pour condure qu'il n'a pas couvert l'entire tendue de ses implications fondamentales.

Lange Zeit wurden Untersuchungen ber die Klassenbildung vom Ausbleiben des von Marx vorhergesagten Klassenbewutseins der westlichen Arbeiterklasse geprgt. Das bahnbrechende Buch Working-Class Formation: Nineteenth-century Patterns in Western Europe and the United States (1986) der Autoren Katznelson und Zolberg hat sich von diesem Interpretationsstandpunkt gelst und eine vergleichende Studie erstellt. Besonders die Einfhrung Katznelsons definiert die konzeptuellen Schlufolgerungen neu, die die Ausrichtungen der Klassenbildung beinhalten. Anstatt sie als abweichend oder auergewhnlich zu betrachten, werden die nationalen Formen der Klassenbildung vielmehr als Varianten interpretiert, die allein durch die historische besonders politische Entstehungsgeschichte jedes einzelnen Staates erklrt werden knnen. Working-class Formation , schnell zum Klassiker geworden, ist bis heute nicht bertroffen worden. Dieser Aufsatz veranschaulicht seine Strken und Schwchen und verweist in der Schlufolgerung darauf, da er jedoch nicht alien Interpretationsanstzen gerecht wird.

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European Journal of Sociology / Archives Européennes de Sociologie
  • ISSN: 0003-9756
  • EISSN: 1474-0583
  • URL: /core/journals/european-journal-of-sociology-archives-europeennes-de-sociologie
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