The Industrial Revolution (1750-1850) had brought about significant changes in agriculture, mining, manufacturing, transportation and technology and subsequently established an era of unprecedented economic growth in capitalist economies. It was within this era that Karl Marx had observed the deprivation and inequality experienced by men of the proletariat, the working class, who had laboured excessively for hours under inhumane conditions to earn a minimum wage while the bourgeoisie, the capitalist class, reaped the benefits. For Marx it was this fundamental inequality within the social and economic hierarchy that had enabled capitalist societies to function. While Marx’s theories, in many instances have been falsified and predictions
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In the context of Marxism, the middle class was ignored due to their perceived limited role within the political revolution that would depose of capitalism. In contemporary society however, the traditional labouring occupations have decreased, leading to a shortage of skilled labourers and tradesman. As a result these occupations often earn a higher income, blurring the line between working class and middle class (Braverman, 1974). In August 2011 the most common occupations were distinctly white collar with the workforce comprising of 22% professionals, 15% Clerical and administrative workers and 14% Technicians and trades workers (Australian Bureau Statistics, 2011). The evident emergence of the white collar-middle class within contemporary society significantly undermines Marx’s theory of class stratification who had predicted an absorption into the working class and the emergence of a classless state.
Despite this however, research has suggested that social mobility has not necessarily increased. Graetz and McAllister (1994) identified that while the shift between manual and non-manual occupations has increased since the 1970’s, most of this has been the