This volume is designed first to provide a theoretical orientation
and historical perspective on the rise of the middle classes in
modern civilization, and second, to portray the social and
political roles these classes have played and continue to play in
the United States over the past century, with particular reference
to the American class structure and political economy. Our method
is necessarily both historical and sociological and offers an
orientation for understanding contemporary American society. The
essays included here were written between 1926 and 1982: they
reveal both the genealogical development of sociological thought
about the middle classes and the substantive content of these
classes' life styles, status claims and political orientations. The
present work stresses empirical studies and puts forth neither a
theoretical interpretation nor a conceptual taxonomy; rather it
delineates the emergence and the social and political significance
of the new middle classes in relation to the classes, above and
below, that preceded them.
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