Issue 32 – “Middle” Class?

Kapak32Editors: Sinan Yıldırmaz, Bülent Batuman

Faubourgeoisie and Power: Class and Political Islam In Recent Turkish History Utku Balaban

This article argues that political Islam has been characterizing the political scene in Turkey for the last three decades thanks to a social class, which is yet to be defined. Conceptualized as faubourgeoisie, this social class originated from the circulation process of capital. The failure to identify this agent gave the opportunity to the Weberian perspectives to formulate the dominant narrative on the recent Turkish history and revealed that Marxist theory has long evaded its “middle class question”. The article tackles this question and argues that there are actually three classes that originate from the circulation process (namely, faubourgeoisie, petty bourgeoisie, and technocracy). In the current conjuncture of capital accumulation, faubourgeoisie managed to establish political control on the proletariat by developing the narrative of “political Islam”. The very success of this narrative is related to the fact that political Islam is not an ideology, but a cosmology that is immersed in the codes of the local. Faubourgeoisie is a social class that emerged as a result of the global transformation of the accumulation process and derives its history from the local. Keywords: Political Islam, Social Class, Ideology, Marxist Theory, Weberian Theory, Urbanization, Turkish History, Middle Class

New Opportunities in Empirical Analysis: Synthesis Between Pierre Bourdieu’s Conceptional Repertoire and Erik Olin Wright’s Micro Concepts
Vefa Saygın Öğütle ve Güney Çeğin

Though “middle class” is a term with no content in Marxist analysis, it suggests a set of phenomena persistent in empirical presence. From this perspective, Wright’s sociological concern in making class structure operative with empirical studies is a significant contribution to Marxist social science. However, Wright’s grounding of his theoretical framework in terms of analytical Marxism’s micro-macro schematics aggregates new dead ends in investigating the relations between class positions and class practices. One of the primary causes of this is the conception of class-as-position -which is usually the product of discomposure in conceptualizing the political subjects- widespread in Wright’s works along with many Marxist frameworks. However, individual-agents are not only settle in class trajectories but they also initiate practices that reproduce, legitimize, or transform their positions through their class habitus in a tense relation with these positionings. Therefore, the main suggestion of this paper is that a dialogue between Wright’s micro-level concepts about his class structure and Bourdieu’s conceptional repertoire can create a dynamic framework for empirical research. In this study, firstly, we ground this suggestion theoretically and then, we focus on the points of intersection between these two sociologists’ conceptional repertoire, which are proper to empirical investigation.
Keywords: Political Islam, Social Class, Ideology, Marxist Theory, Weberian Theory, Urbanization, Turkish History, Middle Class

Class in the 21st Century
Göran Therborn,
Translation: Sinan Yıldırmaz
Gilded Collars between Class and Middle-class Debates: Are the Lawyers in the Process of Proetarianization?
Kasım Akbaş

The ongoing debate in the second half of the twentieth century centered on the middle classes, and their proletarianization. The criteria defining proletarianization are wage earning, the relative decline of the wages, the loss of absolute dominance on the labor process, the shortening of the time devoted to the functions of capital, the fragmentation of the labor process and the unskillization of labor force. These criteria are also relevant for the lawyers. While the social, political and economic developments externally affect the lawyers, who inherently belong to the middle classes, the changes in the legal system affect the quantity and quality of the lawyers’ work. The legal field is increasingly incorporated into the laws of capitalism, as it is eventually becoming determined by the accumulation regime of capital. Legal services are in a process of commodification. The transformation of the legal office organization and the working procedure accompanies the commodification of legal services.
Keywords: Middle classes, attorneyship, laborization, lawyers as workers, industrial-type office

The Myth of the Middle-class and the Engineer’s Nemesis
Serdal Bahçe

The concept of middle class is a multi-layered problematic in social sciences. It has multiple definitions and these definitions cover a wide range of social groups. The problem of middle class is in essence a working class problem. The social groups which are assumed be the constituents of middle class have been the objects of hitherto polarization among capital and labor over capital/labor nexus. In this study, this process is analyzed with particular reference to a number of profile studies on engineers in Turkey. The most striking observation that could be drawn from the profile studies is that the integrity of the engineering occupation is under the threat of a rupture between the wage earner engineers and capital owner engineers. Besides these, engineering labor power is also under the adverse effects of trends (increasing unemployment, devalorization) which have also affected other types of labor power. Furthermore, the members of this occupational group, displaying great awareness to these developments, have been demanding the protection of their privileges. As a conclusion, it should be indicated that the majority of the engineers who entered into wage relation, are not the members of a mythical middle class.
Keywords: Middle class, engineering labor, TMMOB, social classes, Turkey

A Path from Labor Process Analysis to Class Debates: Class Relations in the Production and Labor Processes of Turkish Private Television Shows
Fırat Konuşlu

This work focuses on the labor processes of one the most appreciated products of the Turkish private televsions, namely, television series, and uses the main data collected from in-depthinterviews done with the workers that have taken part in this process as well as participant observations in the production sets. The aim of this work is to criticize approaches that consider the labor in the knowledge-intensive sectors as a “separate” social and political subject beyond the boundaries of the labor-capital conflict. While doing this, it claims that the “classes” are not merely economic stuructures but they are also affected by political and ideological tensions, relying on a literature that analyzes the tension between objective class positions and subjective social positions in a relational way.
Keywords: Labor process, precariat, precariousness, working class, relational approach

Post-Apartheid South Africa: “National Democratic Revolution” and Building of Black Capital
Tolga Tören

The aim of this study is to analyze the process experienced in South Africa since the collapse of the Apartheid regime with respect to the Black Economic Empowerment Program, which claimed to create a black middle class, yet served the creation of a black bourgeoisie. The study consists of four chapters. In the first chapter, material and intellectual bases of the program are analyzed. The second chapter focuses on the legal and institutional regulations defining the program. In the third chapter, the second period of the program beginning after the economic crisis of the mid-1990s is analyzed. In the fourth chapter, restructuring process of the program that came into agenda after the conflicts between classes and within the capitalist class in the beginning of 2000s is evaluated. The paper argues that although the program relied on the concept of creating a black middle class, in fact, it served the creation of a black bourgeoisie articulated with the first generation (white) capitalist class of the country.
Keywords: Apartheid, post-Apartheid South Afrika, ANC, COSATU, SACP.

Uluslararası Yeni Özgürlük ve Özne Biçimleri Konferansı Deniz Parlak

This post is also available in: Turkish