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Embourgeoisement Thesis

  The embourgeoisement (French, ‘making middle class’) thesis was a popular economic argument in the UK in the 1950s and 1960s. It asserted that the working class in modern capitalist societies have adopted the lifestyle and political attitudes of the middle class. Contrasts were drawn, for example, between the conditions of the working classes in the UK in the 1930s and their situation after 1950. It was assumed that the establishment of the welfare state, almost full employment, actual improvements in living standards, and the mass production of consumer goods had eliminated the material and cultural differences between the classes. This increased affluence was supposed to have resulted in a decline in working-class support for radical political movements, which was believed to have contributed to the success of the Conservative party during this period.

Some sociological studies seemed to support the embourgeoisement thesis, but the most direct response to the thesis was the Affluent Worker Studies by Goldthorpe and Lockwood which refuted it by reference to worker attitudes. Other studies suggested that a still greater number of people did not enjoy a middle-class standard of living. DA

See also bourgeoisie; class; culture; occupation; profession; social mobility; social stratification.Further reading J.H. Goldthorpe, , D. Lockwood, , F. Bechhofer and , J. Platt, The Affluent Worker: Industrial Attitudes and Behaviour; The Affluent Worker: Political Attitudes and Behaviour; The Affluent Worker in the Class Structure.



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