In past articles I’ve commented on the middle class a fair amount including on how the middle class blocks the elites. However I’ve noticed that there is often some confusion when it comes to a distinction between the poor, middle class, and rich. Who are the rich? Who constitutes the middle class?
Well first off, the concept of what constitutes a middle class has changed quite a bit over time and what is considered rich has definitely changed in recent decades. However I feel that a lot of the confusion stems from the over simplification of the class stratification in modern industrialized nations. This discussion is an initial attempt to clarify the state of class stratification in industrialized nations. In order to do this, I will break down our class structure into four relatively distinct groups rather than the traditional three group system.
The Three Groups
Producers are a result of technological revolutions. As technology advanced, and skilled labor started to emerge, the producer class started to form. Early producers traded within their own groups using various systems of distribution including bartering. The consumers constitute a large portion of what is generally considered the middle class. The consumers formed primarily during the industrial revolution because the amount and variety of goods and services that could be produced increased dramatically. Of course, the producers also consume, and so the consumers and the producers function as a unit in a sort of consumer-producer complex. This complex can be thought of as the middle class, and from now on in my articles, when I use the term middle class, I mean the consumer-producer complex.
When discussing the elites, I am not referring to those with a large sum of money. Though that is generally a corollary to being an elite. However the defining factor of an elite is control. How much control does a person have over others and over the general decision making processes within a community? If the person’s decision making ability far exceeds the average, then he or she would be considered elite. Elites may or may not be political elites, but they are often directly linked to the decision making power within government.
The poor includes everyone below the poverty threshold. These people do not have the resources required to obtain basic necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter.