Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

James Grimm, John Faine, Edward Bohlander

Degree Program

Department of Sociology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


In the past decade, much has been written about the possibility that stratification hierarchies of industrial societies are being transformed from traditional pyramid-like structures into diamond-shaped structures which have a large "middle mass." It has been hypothesized and/or assumed that this transformation and blurring of class lines is occurring through the embourgeoisement of skilled blue collar workers and/or the proletarianization of lower-level white collar workers. This thesis provides an empirical test for the hypothesis that if embourgeoisement and/or proletarianization are occurring, these processes in actuality are affecting additional strata diversification and possible relative realignment of the strata to each other rather than affecting some form of "massification."

Data was obtained from the combined 1974 and 1975 General Social Surveys conducted by the National Opinion Research Center. A total sample of 323 white males who were either skilled blue collar workers or lower white collar workers and who identified themselves subjectively as either middle class or working class was used as the basis of the analysis. Twenty-three variables were used for assessing differences across economic, normative, relational, and party dimensions of stratification.

In general, the findings indicate strong support across economic aspects and moderate support across normative, relational, and party aspects for the hypothesized additional strata diversification being caused by both embourgeoisement and proletarianization. New, distinct strata have emerged from within the skilled blue collar stratum and from within the lower white collar stratum. Very little support was found supporting the hypothesis that embourgeoisement is affecting realignment of the strata. There is an emergent stratum of embourgeoisefied skilled blue collar workers, but this stratum is generally still most similar to its blue collar counterpart. However, strong to moderate support was found supporting the hypothesis that proletarianization is affecting strata realignment. Not only has a proletarianized stratum of lower white collar workers emerged which Is distinct from other lower white collar strata, but the emergent stratum is also more like blue collar workers on over two-thirds of the variables used as opposed to remaining most similar to their white collar counterparts. Thus, overall, embourgeoisement was found to be affecting only additional strata diversification while proletarianization was found to be affecting both strata diversification and realignment within the middle sector of the stratification hierarchy.


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology

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