GT32P - The Politics of Industrial Societies.

Topic 3

Lectures 5&6.

Sept. 26&28.

Robert Buddan.  

Social Classes.

We study the social classes and social structure of industrial societies to understand:

1. The process of transformation from the old social order to the new modern class structure and the accompanying economic changes;

2. How power is situated between the classes and if there is a power elite in industrial societies.

3. The kinds of cleavages existing in these societies, their historical roots and their present conditions.

4. The growth of class-based ideologies - liberalism, socialism and nationalism - as ideologies representing class interests and spurring political changes.

Modern classes and class structures were a unique product of western societies, a product both of industrialisation which has given classes their economic character and of democratisation which has given them their political character. 



Class refers to the main groups into which societies are organised according to economic, political or sociological criteria. Class might be objectively measured, such as by income group categories or occupational group categories; or it might be subjectively measured by how individuals perceive their social identity.

Social structure refers to the ways that social groups are ordered and the relationship between this ordering and the opportunities they have for social mobility. For instance, some social structures might be more fluid if the opportunities and attitudes permit fairly easy change of membership from one class to another. Others might be more rigid where opportunities are more closed. The former social structure would be more democratic.

Social structures might also be more or less homogenous. Where societies are not deeply divided by class, ethnic, linguistic, regional or religious segments, that society is relatively homogenous and more capable of consensus. It is less conflictual. Japan is a highly homogenous society.

For our purpose, I am using the term social class in a certain way: Social class refers to a group and its attributes - income, occupation, race/ethnicity, nationality, political position, status/ prestige, and so on - that determine the value of that group in the society=s structure of reward and respect. The group attributes refer to the Asocial characteristics@ of the group; and the value aspect determines the Aclass ranking@ of the group.

The advantages of this usage is that it creates a composite of different attributes variously used to rank or rate groups in society and this is relevant as modern society becomes mixed because of cultural and national assimilation so that single attributes such as economic class do not fully capture the complexity of social behaviour. It allows us to also include less academic and more popular notions of, >first class=, >second class= citizens, etc., in explaining the rankings given to groups.

This conception means that some attributes might overlap/reinforce or cross-cut and where the most salient ones do, they will give a direction in the way that members of this group behave politically. For example, if a white, working class person votes for a party promoting anti-immigration policies then race and occupation overlap in the direction of anti-immigration politics, where the immigrants are non-white and a threat to jobs. But if a Catholic, working class person votes for a  Protestant labour party then there is a cross-cut in the person=s voting behaviour so that he places more salience on the value of the labour platform than on the religious one.

Industrial societies do exhibit this complexity where individuals of multiple attributes behave in sometimes unpredictable ways and the outcome of that behaviour is what determines which attribute(s) might be most salient.

It is this complexity that will throw light on the reasons as to why Marxist predictions of revolutionary class conflict in industrial capitalist societies has not occurred.


Classes and class structure during industrialisation.

From the medieval period leading up to the industrial period, European societies were divided into three main classes. The nobility constituted a military and landed aristocracy; the clergy formed an ecclesiastical and intellectual elite; and the peasants made up the labouring class whose taxes and rents supported the other two classes. As industrialisation proceeded, Europe=s class structure was gradually transformed. These older classes diminished in numbers as well as in political and economic importance and three new classes emerged. Capitalists owned and controlled the new industries, the working class was concentrated in factories, and a middle class took up its role in services.

France provides a good example. The old social order in France was based on Aestates@. One=s estate determined his legal rights and privileges. The First Estate was made up of the clergy numbering about 100,000 out of a population of 25 million at the time of the French Revolution. The Second estate comprised the nobility of about 400,000. The Third Estate, included almost all the rest of the population, and was made up of 20 million peasants and about 4 million merchants and artisans. (Stavrianos, 1999: 439).

The social structure was rigid and elitist. The first two estates accounted for only 2 per cent of the population but those classes owned some 35 per cent of the land and monopolised most of the privileges and government patronage. They were exempt from most taxes. (Ibid).

The peasants accounted for some 80 per cent of the population but controlled only 30 per cent of the land. They paid a range of fees and taxes - tithes to the church, feudal dues to the nobles, land tax, income tax and poll tax to the state. They clearly carried the brunt of supporting the society, and the clergy and nobility lived off them. (Ibid).

The bourgeoisie was profiting from the rise of capitalism but they resented the old regime which treated them like second class citizens and they were excluded from the higher positions in the bureaucracy, church and military - the key institutions in the power structure. In Britain too, for over a hundred years after the industrial revolution began, the rising capitalist class was looked down on since social value was placed on membership in old families with long ancestral membership in the traditional institutions of power and prestige - the monarchy, church  and landed estates. Business was not seen as a Agentlemanly occupation.@ It was this denial of privileges from the bourgeoisie and the burden of taxation on the peasantry, along with evidence of executive mismanagement and political corruption and loss of prestige in lost international wars that combined to strengthen the political positions of capitalists and weaken that of the old classes.

Modern Classes and their origins.

The Business class.

Both political and economic revolutions changed the class structure of Europe. A business class had come to form an elite in the United States by the late 1800's. Most of this class was native born, white, from the cities, of middle class origins, and were relatively well-educated. (Blackford, 1988: 59).

In the same period in Britain, the business elite had mostly come from merchant families. Fifty-seven per cent of business leaders were the sons of businessmen, 19 per cent were the sons of public officials, 15 percent came from farming families and 11 percent came out of the lower middle and working classes. (Blackford, 75).

Japan also saw a new business elite being formed at this time. Their backgrounds were more varied. Merchants did not play such a strong role in early industrialisation as they had done in Britain so 19 per cent of Japan=s business leaders came from merchant families, while 51 per cent were from small businessmen. Another 23 percent were sons of samurai, the warrior class, and 22 per cent descended from farmers. (Blackford, 86).

British capitalists did not win social esteem as easily as they did in America. The American culture was less wedded to old aristocratic values and placed a higher value on making money, on individualism and materialism. The American upper stratum was also more open. These qualities allowed America to industrialise quickly and surpass Britain as an industrial power by about 1880.

The businessman also suffered from low social esteem in older Japan. The warrior class for example - the samurai - was ranked higher. It was only after the Meiji Restoration of 1868 when the modernisation of Japan begun, that this started changing. Blackford explains the context:

AThe public image of businessmen improved, and this new heightened image of the businessman was partially reconciled to the older Confusion ideals. The creation of industry came to be seen by some Japanese as a service to the state, because new industries would, they thought, make Japan strong. Some Japanese political and economic leaders began to view businessmen as the new samurai of their nation. When conducted for the right reasons, for public as well as for private gain, business enterprise could, they reasoned, be virtuous.@ (1988: 84-85).

The above shows that wealth alone did not assure one=s membership in the upper class. Social value - the value society places on an occupation - was also important. In both Britain and especially Japan, the modern business class succeeded by masking itself in the guise of the old order - Victorian values or Confusion ones - giving capitalism a certain conservatism not found in the uninhibited materialist culture of the United States. But they also gave capitalism in the former two countries relative social stability not found in the transition to capitalism in most European countries where revolutions or revolutionary situations were more common.

Businessmen either directly through the market or by state policies, exploited their workers shamelessly. They could do so because the standards of democracy and workers= rights did not exist and they were not willing to allow them. As early as 1799 the Combinations Act in Britain declared trade unions a criminal offence against the public. A similar statute had existed in France from 1791. Businessmen were interested in property rights as an economic value in itself and as the standard for other rights, such as voting and eligibility for election. This amounted to bourgeois democracy.

The Working class.

The story of how the European working class emerged is a tragic one. Unlike today, persons were not educated and trained for a career to join the job market. Europe=s working class came out of the landless, destitute, hungry, unskilled and uneducated. They had no rights and no social esteem. The industrial revolution had dislocated the feudal economy and the peasantry. The masses rushed to the cities where they constituted an urban poor. It was from out of this >reserve army of labour,= that the new industrialists drew their workers.

The working class is to be differentiated from the labouring classes. The working class was specifically concentrated in factories and depended entirely on wages for its livelihood. The labouring class was of anybody who worked.

Europe=s working class developed only gradually. By 1850, the total number of factory workers in the earliest industrialising countries amounted to only about five per cent in England, four per cent in Belgium, three per cent in France and two per cent in Switzerland. (Lis and Soly, 159).     

Not only did a working class emerge but its social composition made it different from previous labouring classes. Poor women and children joined poor men in the factories. The new  mechanised working methods of the factory required little muscular strength for many roles so both women and children could be employed on a large scale. In the early 1800's as much as 75 per cent of the workers in the cotton factories of England were women and children aged from six to sixteen, working from 14-17 hours a day, paid poorly, and regularly punished if they even slacked off momentarily.

Factory owners discovered that the ideal workforce was of a widow with many children because these were willing to work and stay together for cheap pay and without much resistance. So, sometimes they hired entire families like these. They would also scour the orphanages and poorhouses. Scarcely a manufacturer would not have orphans at his workplace. Orphanages provided children to manufacturers who trained them, paid them poor wages and provided them with crowded, unsanitary lodgings. Orphanages became training schools for factories and factory labour became synonymous with >child slavery= in the public=s mind. The first workers then were the pauperised population of Europe.

They had no rights and were subjected to harsh work discipline. Judges threatened to use the police to impose harsh penalties against poor children who played in the streets instead of working. People would be charged with vagrancy if they were found wandering about during working hours. Fines were levied for lateness, lingering at meal time, smoking, swearing, brawling, or singing during work hours. Employers made loans to workers who could not pay them back and who were then bound to the employer.

Poverty in European countries actually rose to unprecedented levels during early industrialisation. The working class made up about 40 per cent of the poor and mostly destitute in France by about 1800.

In all of this, the industrialising countries increased their wealth. Britain increased its capital from 500 million pounds in 1750 to 6,000 million pounds in 1865. It was only after 1850 that workers began to enjoy increases in their real wages. In fact, real wages in Britain and France doubled between 1850 and 1914. (Stavrianos, 418). It was no coincidence that this was the very period when trade unions began to be formed and labour parties started to win seats in parliament as the suffrage was opened to male and then female adults.

The political impact of the working class obviously increased with its size. A late industrialising country like Russia had 380,000 factory workers in 1865. This ballooned to 1.6. million in 1890 and doubled to over 3 million by 1900. This was about the same for France at this time. (Tombs: 1996: 269).

Against this background, it is no wonder that the working class turned to a socialist ideology. Once unionism was legalised, mainly from the 1870's, they organised themselves for collective bargaining and once they got the franchise and elected labour governments, they organised liberal governments into welfare states. It was only through their socialism, not the success of capitalism, that workers were able to improve their standards of living so that many could join the consumer market and even enjoy a middle class lifestyle.


The Middle Class.

The European middle class arose in the process of economic and political modernisation as a service class fulfilling technical, professional, administrative, educational and ideological functions in society. Little is written about this class (compared to the capitalist and working classes) and yet, it has grown to be one of the largest classes in modern society and the success of political liberalism is really a success of the middle class.

If the bank is the institutional symbol of the capitalist, the factory that of the worker, then the university or school is the institution of the middle class. It is out of the educational institutions that governments and businesses have recruited teachers, doctors, administrators, engineers, clerks, health workers, etc. It is in the urban towns and cities where government services and industries have been more developed that one finds a concentration of the middle class.

The middle class came in part out of the aristocracy, from the working class, and independently of its own. Some landowner families converted to the professions and more successful working class families saved and rose to the middle class. In Germany and Austria, the middle class was most strongly identified with the intellectuals. Indeed, the revolutions in those countries in 1848 were characterised as the >revolutions of the intellectuals.=

The middle class was defined in the nineteenth century as an intermediary class between the working class and the noble class. It comprised of those who had some property or skills, who worked and earned a living, in some cases,  independently. It is not always easy to distinguish it from the bourgeoisie or the upper working class, both of which might sometimes appear to be middle class in life-style.

Tombs (1996: 280), estimates that in France at the end of the nineteenth century, the different strata of the middle class (upper, middle, lower), including family members, numbered about 10 million or about a quarter of the population. Of these, about 1 million heads of households belonged to the upper strata where families were mostly headed by landowners, professionals, businessmen, civil servants, officers or company executives. Another two million heads of households were of families of shopkeepers, innkeepers, rural artisans and small manufacturers. As economic modernisation proceeded, the middle class grew, forming about one third of the population by the 1880's.

One of the distinguishing features of the middle class is its culture. It sought to create its own lifestyle, probably to clearly separate itself from the working class and from the aristocracy, the former of low status and the latter seen as part of a vanishing order. Clerks, for instance, would ask for salaries above those of the working class on the grounds that their jobs demanded proper and costly attire and their standard of living required them to spend more than workers.

The middle class did not distinguish itself strictly on grounds of wealth or occupation. It depended on, and to a large extent invented its own style and manners, formed its own social circles and tried to get by on being known and having influence. It adopted status symbols such as dress, house servants, house (with separate kitchen, living room and study), and furnishings (such as a piano), and where possibly, even a country house. Tea parties and social gatherings were other inventions to show off these symbols of status and boast about the children=s education, career and upbringing.

As the middle class progressed socially and politically, it came to be identified too with public life, politics and government. Occupations connected with the state grew. Jobs in the civil service came to be regarded as middle class jobs, so too a job in teaching or journalism. These were marks of literacy and a life in the service of the public, which have come to be associated with the middle class status, ethic and spirit. By the middle of the nineteenth century, political office had virtually become a middle class monopoly.

In Britain, France and then elsewhere, the reorganisation of the modern civil service along professional lines and promotion based on merit ( against pre-industrial civil services which were based on upper class qualifications and widespread corruption), made that occupation thoroughly middle class. Publicly supported schools followed in the same fashion. Speaking of America, Wood says, A The schools are middle class institutions. The language taught, the intellectual tools employed, the standards of evaluation used, and the teachers who apply them, are all middle class. Even if the teacher is from a working class background, he or she has become socialised into the middle class through advanced education. Teaching is, after all, a middle-class occupation.@ (1978: 45).

Middle class values have affected modern societies, especially westernised ones, in a number of ways - Liberal, parliamentary politics and the philosophy of the free market and freedom of the individual; a noblesse oblige, that is, a sense of caring for the poor, not through socialism, but through philanthropy and charity work; fashion and leisure in line with the growth of consumer society; and gender roles, where the woman=s duty was to home, children and husband.

The liberal middle class held a real fear of the working class and mass democracy. It held a patronising and patrician outlook, that the mass was dangerous, uncultured, uneducated and unable to think and govern themselves. In that spirit, checks and balances against popular government was necessary, as was indirect representation, that is representation through MPs who were/ have been middle class males for the most part.     

Modern class structures.

Modern class structures in industrial societies are more complex. Higher disposable incomes, mass consumerism and popular culture have played a role in leveling the perceived distinctions in the lifestyles between classes. There has been some Amiddling@ of the classes. Immigration has created a racial, colour and cultural issue which divides or creates new lines of solidarity affecting the political positions of middle and working classes. The incorporation of traditional European ethnic groups into modern European nations creates nationalist and ethnic tensions among the classes. Feminist issues make class issues gender sensitive. Religion remains important in how all classes vote in many countries. The accommodation of trade unions to capitalist democracy has made class politics less revolutionary. Despite class membership, voters often have different or similar positions on major issues such as government taxes or government spending, environmental policy, social welfare, corruption or leadership, as issue voting becomes more salient.

Class and tradition.

The American class structure is more thoroughly new compared to Europe and Japan. Britain has managed to retain, through the class compromise of the >Glorious Revolution= of 1868, a titled aristocracy in the House of Lords, with the glamour and prestige of its medieval ancestors. The position of the aristocracy was preserved in parts of the state - the Upper House and the higher civil service - in exchange for the agreement of the nobility to liberal reforms granting parliamentary supremacy to the capitalist and middle classes. For instance, the principles of neutrality, anonymity, and impartiality were conveniently invented to protect the independent careers of the nobles in the higher civil service from the political interference of the commoners in the House of Commons. Britain has therefore managed to enter modernity with carry-overs of remnants from the old social order. However, the British Labour Party is considering abolishing the House of Lords. But how democratic is Britain if the electors are prevented from selecting the members of the legislative Upper House and where this chamber has been able to avoid being subjected to the enfranchised? It is one thing to open up the franchise, it is another to open up the chambers that make the franchise effective.

The salience of class.

Theens and Wilson (1996: 33), say that the sense of belonging to a social class in Britain is declining. On the one hand, more people in Britain are willing to identify themselves as members of the working class than anywhere else, but on the other, less people said they felt they belonged to any class at all. Class seems to be losing its salience as a form of subjective identification, especially for the middle class. They don=t say what the new forms of identification are. Could it be that nationalism has become primary in an age of globalism when the identity of Englishmen is perceived to be threatened by integration in the European Union?  

Nonetheless, class still has salience. It is a form of identification for the working class, and the British still vote along class lines. Voter=s class identification is one of the major determinants of which party they support. (p.35). The upper and middle classes vote conservative while the lower middle and working classes vote labour. In fact, the strength of the conservative party relative to that of the labour party in the twentieth century indicates a willing ness of the British, overall, to vote for their >social betters,= an indication of the deferential British culture.

French society on the other hand, has been described more as a plural society. Theens and Wilson say:

A Throughout its history, important social, cultural, and political cleavages have plagued France.. Contemporary...observers continue to point out the dividions in French cociety. These didvisions puportedly separate the population into various social or ideological >families= having few contacts with each other. Each section of society has sought to fight for its rights and privileges against real or imagined threats coming from the other groups. Each advocates its own view of the way society and politics ought to be organised. Overall, there seems to be no consensus or agreement on the social and political framework acceptable to all these various families , and many obeservers blame the failure of successive political regimes since 1789 on the political tensions generated by such internal divisions in French society.@ (p.98).


Theens and Wilson say that Aclass lines are more rigid in France than in Britain and other modern industrial societies.@ (p.99). This is because France has had one of the most unequal distributions of wealth among industrial societies. The reason also has to do with the sharp ideological struggles of the French revolution which defined classes and gave politics in France its class language and ideology. But again, as in Britain, class distinctions are gradually giving way to a more uniform society. (p.99). The reason might be because of the leveling effect of lifestyles. In 1958, 71 per cent of households in the country had neither refrigerator, washing machine nor television. In 1978, 71 per cent of the households had all three (p.99). Also, education is having a leveling effect since access to education is now greater for all the classes.

Like Britain, class remains salient in voting preferences. The upper and middle classes vote for the conservatives parties while the working class votes for leftist parties, including and especially the communist party.

Germany too has become a middle class society, especially because its rapid development after the Second World War displaced the rigid distinctions of the old order.  Almost two-thirds of Germans identified themselves as belonging to the middle class in 1991.The outward lifestyle and external appearance of all classes have become remarkably similar. Yet, substantial differences remain between those at the top and the bottom of the social structure. (Theens and Wilson, 178).   

Japan is the most curious case among the industrial countries. Most Japanese identify themselves as middle or upper class and Japan (along with Sweden and Australia) has one of the more even distributions of income among industrial societies. Yet, class is not a major category in the Japanese social consciousness. Most Japanese do not think in terms of class categories. They do think in terms of, and accept as natural, differences in rank and status. But this is usually in terms of positions of authority or roles, such as a family would be organised, or employment statuses would be ranked. The Japanese do accept a system of hierarchy which goes deep in their tradition, but not class hierachy in the western sense.

Japanese do identify themselves according to groups but more in the sense of corporate families. In other words, a Japanese sees his group as the company or the firm and therefore feels himself more in common with his employer as part of a corporate family than he would see distinctions in terms of class. The business company in Japan is modelled off the family structure in Confucion tradition. Japanese usually have life-long job security with their companies. Executives are seen more as father figures than as exploiting bosses. It is this corporate ethic that is stronger than social class in Japan.

Social structure and culture.

The social structure of industrial societie is complicated by the values attached to national and ethnic characteristics as well as religion. What we call Britain is properly called, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Within this union, the English make up 80 per cent of the population. The various nationaliyies still identify themselves as English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish rather than as British. Britain is not as homogenous as might appear. A Scotsman feels offended if he is referred to as English. The Scots and Welsh have strong nationalist parties. Northern Ireland has resorted to violent campaigns to obtain independence or autonomy from England.

In some elections, ethnicity was a more important determinant of voting behaviour than was class. (All regions elect members to the British House of Commons). A Scottish working class person might vote for the Scottish nationalist party than for the labour party. Nationalists charge England with internal colonialism, saying England has exploited their resources for the glory of England. In addition, national groups fear that the English culture will absorb theirs. Less than 25 per cent of the population of Wales speak Welsh and they fear the disappearance of their language and culture. It is against this background that Adevolution@ or greater autonomy for the national parliaments has become a leading issue in British politics.

Immigration has also affected the distinctiveness of class. Native working class British feel threatened by the competition for jobs, housing, welfare benefits and British society as a whole feel that their culture is being compromised by immigrant culture. White racism has the tendency to unite all the white, native classes against the foreign ones.

In France and other European countries, the native population has come to associate immigrants with urban decay, drug abuse, crime and loss of jobs. Anti-immigration parties have emerged, a leading one being the French National Front, its main campaign call being the compulsory expulsion of all immigrants. The rise of anti-immigrant feelings in France and other industrial countries has forced mainstream parties to take harder positions of immigration.

Religion has been a dividing factor in the Northern Ireland case. Northern Ireland is two-thirds Protestant while the Irish south is Catholic. The north is ruled from Britian, the south is independent. The north is made up of descendants of the Scottish while the south is of native Irish. The north is industrially underdeveloped and Catholics in the north allege that Protestants discriminate against them in salaries, jobs, housing. But it is religion that is the most salient issue. The Protestant working class person joins with the Protestant middle class person to fight the Catholic working and middle class persons.

Religious cleavage is also present in French politics. Although the society is almost 90 per cent Catholic there are divisions within Catholicism over the role of the church and religion in public life. The left wants the state to stop subsidising church schools and threatent o nationalise private schools and to reform schools curricula in favour of secular education. Religion influences voting behaviour. The more faithful Catholics vote for right-wing parties.

The religious issue is complicated by immigration. Muslim immigrants have made Islam the second largest religion in France. Disputes have emerged about whether Muslim girls, for example, should be allowed to wear head scarves or other religious symbols to school.

The contrasting case is Japan. Japan is 99.9 per cent homogenous in ethnic and cultural terms. Its history of isolation and its strong nationalism have preserved its homogeneity. The Japanese population is unique amongs the industrial countries in this sense.

Theens and Wilson explain:

AThis circumstance has been an important advantage in Japan=s transition from a traditional to a modern society, sparing it the turmoil of thnic conflict which has complicated the politics of so many countries today...For many centuries they have had a common language and shared a common history and culture. Unlike most other non-Wetsern societies, therefore, the Japanese did not have to overcome the debilitating effects of religious, tribal, and linguistic divisions. Reinforced by racial homogeneity and isolation, these attributes of the Japanese people were conducive to the development of an exceptionally strong sense of group identity against the outside world and against foreigners, frequently leading in modern times to extreme forms of nationalism.@ (p.361).

Class and Power.

One of the most important questions about classes is, who rules. Social structures tell us about the distribution of wealth and income, races and nationalities and cultural groups in society=s hierarchy. It also tells us about the distribution of power. Many authors suggest that industrial democracies are ruled by an elite and such democracies might best be termed, democratic elitist.

Dye and Zeigler best summarise this position. Speaking of America they say, AElites, not masses, govern America. In an industrial, scientific, and nuclear age, life in a shaped by a handful of people...Elites need not be conspiracies designed to oppress or exploit the masses...they may be deeply concerned with the welfare of the masses. Membership in an elite may be relatively open to ambitious and talented individuals from the masses, or it may be closed to all except top corporate, financial, military, civic, and government leaders. Elites may be competitive or noncompetitive, they may agree or disagree over the direction of foreign and domestic policy...Elites may be responsive to the demands of the masses and influenced by the outcome of elections or they may be unresponsive to mass movements and unaffected by elections. is elites and not the masses who govern the modern nation.@ (1981:3-4).

Elites are drawn disproportionately from those who have the most wealth, power, education, prestige, status, skills of leadership, information, knowledge of the political process and who have the ability to communicate and organise. They share a basic consensus on the system=s political and economic values which gives the system basic stability.

Ironically, the growth of industrialisation has had peverse effects on democracy. Simpler societies with small populations were more able to practice classical democracy. However, the growth of large industrial, labour and other organisations, the large size of populations, the complexity of ideologies, interests and issues, the sophistication of governmental means of control through large bureaucracies, mass communications and police power, the great wealth of upper classes, the world power of militaries and multinational organisations, mean that the mass of people cannot govern for practical reasons. The persons at the top of the powerful public and private organisations of industrial societies are the ones who make the crucial decisions.

Dye and Zeigler make another interesting statement. This is the irony of democracy. It is these elites who safeguard democracy. They say that the American people have a weak committment to individual liberty, toleration of diversity, and freedom of expression for those who would challenge the existing order. Support for freedom of the press, freedom of dissent and equality of opportunity is stronger amongst the more educated, more prestigious and higher status occupations. They say, authoritarianism is stronger among the working classes in America than among the middle and upper classes.

In summary, they are saying that democracy in America better fits the elite theory, specifically the version of democratic elitism, than does pluralist theory or that of classical democracy; but unlike Marxist theory, they believe that left to themselves, the masses are a threat to democracy, or incapable of upholding democracy=s high ideals.

But the high ideals of America=s elites are themselves limited, mainly to private property and capitalism, limited government and individual liberty, that is the liberty to be free from strong government and to be free in the market.

This image of democracy finds some support in Seymour Martin Lipset=s study of the authoritarian attitudes of the working class in early twentieth century Europe which led it to support fascist governments in places like Germany and Italy. It might be cited to explain the racism and intolerance of foreign cultures and immigrants and the rise of neo-Nazi movements in Europe.

On the other hand, a study by Almond and Verba on the civic culture of industrial democracies found that the US and Britain, at least up to 1960, had a mass culture that was democratic in its attitudes.

The main point of Dye and Zeigler though is about the elitist nature of democracy in the industrial societies. This point finds support by other authors. Pierre Birnbaum finds that there is a power elite in France. Wallace Clement reveals the nature of the elite in Canada. Urry and Wakeford have compiled a study on the elitist nature of power in Britain. In all of these studies, the authors point to a sociological basis of power where the upper class controls the most resourceful and influential organisations in industrial societies. Put another way, although elections and forms of political participation exist and these societies are better off for having them, these have their limits. Industrial democracies have produced an industrial class that control democracy.     


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