Classes (Paperback)

By Erik Olin Wright, Eric Lloyd Wright, Erik Olin Wright (Preface by)

Verso, 9781859841792, 344pp.

Publication Date: February 1, 1998



Class analysis and class struggle are central concepts in Marx's social theory yet, notoriously, Marx never wrote a systematic exposition of these terms during his lifetime, and succeeding generations have had to piece together interpretations from his many scattered references and discussions. The problem of trying to develop a Marxist class analysis on this basis has been made all the more acute by changes in the class structure of advanced capitalism, for these have thrown up a bewildering range of new social strata which seem to be difficult to reconcile with the many traditional understandings of class.
In Classes, Erik Olin Wright, one of the foremost Marxist sociologists and class theorists, rises to the twofold challenge of both clarifying the abstract, structural account of class implicit in Marx, and of applying and refining the account in the light of contemporary developments in advanced capitalist societies. Recentering the concept of class on the process of exploitation, Wright discusses his famous notion of "contradictory class locations" in relation to the empirical complexities of the middle class, and he provides an analysis of class structure in "post-capitalist" societies. Wright then goes on to draw out the implications of his approach and to submit it to detailed empirical testing with the use of a trans-national survey of class structure and consciousness.

About the Author

Erik Olin Wright is Vilas Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin. He is the author of many books, including Classes, Interrogating Inequality, Class Counts, Deepening Democracy (with Archon Fung), and Envisioning Real Utopias. For more information on Envisioning Real Utopias and the Real Utopias project, and to access book content, please visit (site in progress).

Praise For Classes

“The most impressive book on class I have read in some years.”—Michael Mann, Contemporary Sociology

“An empirically supported reformulation of class theory that achieves exemplary standards of critique, complexity and clarity.”—Claus Offe

“Erik Olin Wright’s Classes is almost certain to be the most important book on social classes this decade ... The book presents a major breakthrough in the conceptualization of class relations ... and it will be required reading for all macro-sociologists.”—American Journal of Sociology