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Violent confrontation between working class union members and law enforcement such as the one between teamsters and Minneapolis police above were commonly frowned upon by professional middle class.

In the United States there has long been a conflict between the working class majority and the professional class. The conflict goes back to the workers revolution and age of unionized labor in the late nineteenth century. Since the 1870s and the rise of professionalism the daily routine of American workers has been largely designed by professionals instead of foremen. Today, most American workers many of whom earn middle-range incomes and work in white collar occupations, are usually not resentful of the professionals though a feeling of disconnect persists. Even nowadays there is a large visible discrepancy between professionals whose main job duties include visualizing and directing the day of other workers and those who carry out the orders. While the work of professionals and managers is usually largely self-directed and appeals to the interest of the individual, that of middle-range income white collar and working class blue collar workers is closely supervised and tends to greatly stray from the worker's actual interests. Yet another reason for professional middle class resentment among the working class stems from the embedded feelings of anti-intellectualism. When combined working class workers seem to often be under the impression that their better paid, professional managers are not actually "doing anything" as most of their duties are to conceptualize and outline their ideas.[1 ]


The student movement

In the 1960s tensions between the professional middle class and working class flared up again. The student protestors, many of whom had deferments and were therefore exempt from fighting in the Vietnam War, were almost without exception the youth of the professional middle class. Even though the student protestors used solidarity towards the working class as the means to rebel against the "establishment" of the professional middle class, the student protestor's unwillingness to fight in the Vietnam conflict, as well as the widespread non-patriotic sentiment alienated the working classes. The student's lack of patriotism and refusal to endure the same war-time experiences as working class youth caused strong resentment on the sides of the working class. A great realization of this came in the late 1960s when polls and extensive research revealed that the working class was not in support of the student protestors but actually favored the sometimes brutal means used by some US law enforcement agencies to keep the young middle and upper-middle class protestors under control. Furthermore the working class also tends to be quite conservative on social issues which added to its disdain with the behavior of the professional middle class youth.[1 ][2 ]

Current disconnect

In modern day America, a misperception on parts of the working class or less privileged members of the statistical middle class is that while the professional middle class is paid better, they do not work or contribute as much as the working class workers. This difference in pay the misconception that professionalas and managers do not work as much often evokes an image of unearned privilege on part of professional in the minds of working class persons. One must also consider that most professionals tend to work in their fields of interest; thus work may not be as perceived as dreadful and menial by them. For working class persons, however, the contrary may be true. This difference in job satisfaction tends to be perceived by working class persons as further proof of unearned privileged among their professional managers, further adding to class tension.[1 ][3]

Additionally many working class persons lack informal interaction with members of the professional middle class. Commonly the interactions between both classes are subject to rather strict social norms which tend to put the professional in a position that is perceived by the working class person as one of exercising authority. Examples other interactions between both classes other than the rather iconic worker/manager interaction include that of consultations with physicians or therapists.

"Relative to the working class, the holders of middle class occupations are in positions of command or, at the very least authority. Their job is to conceptualize, in broad terms, what others must do. The job of the worker... is to get it done. The fact that this is a relationship of domination-and grudging submission-is usually invisible to the [professional] middle class but painfully apparent to the working class." -Barbara Ehrenreich

Overall working class Americans are most likely to encounter a professional middle class persons in a situation where the latter either directs or advises the former. Meaning that working class persons usually do not converse with professionals unless they are receiving instructions or being given advice. These circumstances might lead to the development of classism in terms of relatively unfounded feelings inferior towards the members of the professional middle class.[1 ][3]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Ehrenreich, Barbara (1989). Fear of Falling, The Inner Life of the Middle Class. New York, NY: Harper Collins. ISBN 0-06-0973331.  
  2. ^ Vanneman, Reeve; Lynn Weber Cannon (1988). The American Perception of Class. New York, NY: Temple University Press. ISBN 0877225931.  
  3. ^ a b "Unearned privilege". Retrieved 2006-08-12.  

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