Zweig in his book The Working Class Majority discusses the problem of class struggle in the United States. According to Zweig, the problem of class division does not receive enough public and academic attention due to the desire of capitalists to ignore it. I, however, believe that it happens as the result of the Marxist academic tradition being partly discredited due to the Soviet experience. Zweig thus stresses a focus on the importance of addressing this issue. Regardless of the fact that American society is one of the most unequal societies in the world as the result of the long history of racial and other types of discrimination, ‘Americans pay much less attention to class than Europeans do’(2).

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More specifically, according to Zweig, the problem of class division is to be emphasized, and class in American society is not to be viewed in terms of financial statuses and lifestyles, but rather in terms of the division of power, which is the Marxist vision of class division. Zweig in his book develops the idea that American society is divided into three major classes – working class (62% of the US labor force), middle class (36% of labor force), and capitalist class (34-35). Given that the working class usually lacks the required economic resource, its participation in the political life of the country is very limited, regardless of the fact that it makes the largest part of the labor force of the United States.

Zweig’s understanding of the reasons of why class is important resembles the Marxist vision of this issue. Zweig argues that the only way to increase the power of the working class in the United States is to understand the system of class division in American society, the existence of which if often rejected in public discussions. One of the attempts to ignore the issue of class division is the concept of the ‘death of class’ that is often referred to today. According to Zweig, the increase in the awareness of the problem will lead to the increase in union participation, which is a much needed step to the working class empowerment (122). Another way to increase the power of American working class majority is to create a strong political party that would be able to represent the needs of the class on the political arena (139). Zweig thus believes in the empowerment of the largest class in the United States through addressing the issue of class division.

My vision of the nature of class structure in the United States is slightly different from the one presented by Zweig, though. I think that the division of power in the United States is much more complex, and cannot be defined with three simple categories of the working class, capitalist class, and middle class. More specifically, I do not think that putting in same category a black homosexual clean lady and a white heterosexual male teacher is logical in terms of power division. There are some strong differences within classes that are to be taken into account, and thus the working class cannot be referred to as one whole unit. In my opinion, other academic attempts to create class schemas were more effective in terms of their explanatory power. For example, Goldthorpe class schema also takes into account the division of power. However, it divides all the individuals in the labor force in at least seven classes, thus presenting a fuller picture of the diversity of classes in the United States.

Power in the labor market indeed is a strong factor that should be taken into account when dividing American society into classes. However, I think that one drawback of Zweig’s approach is taking into account only this factor. There are other determinants of class position, including cultural and social capitals that are partly ignored in Zweig’s book. Namely, one example of the theory that fills this gap is Bourdieu’s theory of habitus tat describes individual’s position in social hierarchy on the basis of the four major factors – cultural, social, economic, and symbolic capital. I think that the class division in the United States can better be understood through the lenses of this theory, given that power on the labor market can have a very important, yet not the determinative influence on individual’s position in the social hierarchy.

In conclusion, Zweig tries to make an important and a much needed contribution to raising public awareness of the class division in the United States, which is a very relevant problem, given the deeply entrenched system of inequality. His idea of the empowerment of the working class is not new, however, it is a very important one, given the high incidence of the working class rights violation that can still be observed today. However, the class schema that Zweig has offered does not give a complex, as well as a full vision of the class differences within the United States. The approach that divides American society only on the basis of the power within the labor market ignores such important characteristics of class as the level of education, social capital etc. The main statement of his book that the working class makes the majority of the United States population is thus challenged.