Criteria of allocation of qualification characteristics of middle class
The future of the country is connected with its organic entry into the world community. However, to enter the world community and to take in it a worthy place it is necessary to possess qualities of competitiveness. Ensuring competitiveness is connected with the solution of considerable number of serious internal problems. One of important tasks is a formation of middle class.
The importance of process of formation of middle class is that it carries out function of social «stabilizer» of society and a source of reproduction of the qualified manpower. The middle class defines quality of human capacity of the country and characteristic features of national identity, provides continuity of generations and vital values. It is connected with physical and mental health of representatives of middle class, and also with the level of their educational and qualification potential, with their such personal features, as innovative potential, a certain nature of valuable orientations, features of motivations in various spheres of activity.
In modern western sociology it is accepted to distinguish two approaches to definition of middle class — subjective and objective. Subjective is based on the principle of «self-identification», that is in self-transfer of the individual in this or that class. Objective approach is based on the criteria independent of opinion of the individual. In foreign sociological literature such criteria as nature of activity (work) and income have been used. Criteria such as educational, qualification, official level, quality of life and standards of consumption also have been used.
The concept middle class appeared in sociological science when as a result of growth of welfare rigid opposition rich and poor at which other groups of society made only a small minority disappeared. This type of social structure was characteristic for Europe in the end of 19th and the beginnings of the 20th century. However, already in post-war Europe it became obvious not only discrepancy of this model of society to new realities, but also emergence of the new mass social subject — middle class which number at first became comparable to the number of working class, and then and I surpassed it. Thus, at first in the West European sociological tradition the middle class was allocated on the basis of the general assessment of the social status of the individual connected with his work, an economic situation and education level. Then, considering the growing number of middle class and need of its more detailed analysis, the concept of uniform middle class was succeeded gradually by the concept of «old» and «new» middle classes. The «old» middle class consisted generally of representatives of small business, and «new» united the qualified specialists working on hiring. Today, if necessary to designate those social groups of society which do not belong neither to rich, nor to poor, in the western sociology speak not only about middle classes, but also about the center which owing to the internal variety can not be considered as the uniform social subject. According to E.Giddens, the concept «middle class» covers representatives of various fields of activity. In middle class it is possible to allocate three rather isolated categories.
The old middle class is representatives of small business, owners of small shops and small farmers. The number of this category during the 20thcentury constantly changed, but they still make considerable part of the working population. Small business is less stable, than large, and often collapses within two years after the basis. In Great Britain only 20% from those who began the small business, are possible to keep within at least five years. Small firms and shops often appear incapable to compete with the large companies, supermarkets and restaurant networks. If the old middle class was not reduced in that measure, as predicted by many people (including Marx), then only because always there are many people wishing to try own business. Therefore, most of those who is compelled to leave business, is at once replaced with the new. Socio-political views of small businessmen usually are very contradictory. In a number of the countries, for example, in France, many of them give invariable support to the extremely right-wing political parties [1, p. 211].
The highest middle class consists generally of managers and high-class experts. The considerable number of people enters this category, and it is necessary to do any generalizations concerning their views carefully. The majority of them have the higher education. Among of them especially experts, among of whom the share of people with liberal views is quite high.
The lowest middle class is even more diverse category. Office employees, sellers, teachers, nurses and a great number of others include to it. Most of representatives of the lowest middle class adhere to the views different from views of workers though conditions of their work often in many respects coincide.
Wright’s and Parkin’s concepts include diverse character of middle class. The middle class appears in an «inconsistent» situation of «a double barrier». It gets under influence from above and is under pressure from below. Many representatives of the lowest middle class are committed to the same values, as people from more well-founded layers though live on the income, quite often smaller, than at highly paid workers [in the same place, page 211].
Today, there is an active process of formation of middle class. It included groups occupied both as in private as well as in collective, also state sectors of economy.
Complexity of formation of middle class is defined, first of all, by that by the beginning of carrying out reforms there was a potential base of middle class which kernel were the intellectuals, the qualified layers of workers and some other groups. During transformational transformations in considerable part they appeared on a roadside. Therefore, so-called «new averages» — representatives of intellectual professions, underwent sharp changes of the social status, prestige, the income and a role in society. Now there is an active formation of the private sector, small and average owners who in all societies represent traditional «old» layers of middle class and which take the place in social space. In relation to present conditions the concept «old» the middle class has conditional character in a certain measure, though reflects the accepted approach. It is connected with that «the old middle class» was destroyed, now it is formed as «new old» [2.p.98].
The formed middle class is the complex education that has the internal social-group structure which separate elements differ by origin and social status, also criteria of social identity. However, at all distinctions those signs which form its kernel are allocated. First of all, it is existence of the employment including such characteristics as a profession, highly skilled work, an appropriate level of education. According to the Russian scientists, the potential middle class includes in the ranks mass groups of the scientific and technical and humanitarian intellectuals, highly skilled layers of workers, administrative and managerial facilities [2.p. 98].
Process of formation new social a level in the Kazakhstan society goes in three directions. On one of them the bureaucratic bourgeoisie using economic domination in the practice and trying to fix it through right-privilege system is formed. On other direction — various social groups which to some extent managed to adapt new relations of production: the managers, employees of the enterprises of small and medium business who passed to traditional forms of the organization of work farms, workers of services industry. On the third — the mass of the declassed marginal elements which are formally thrown out from society, but actually making its integral part. They are unemployed, refugees, families with many children, those in needs and pensioners, also qualified specialists and workers.
In researches of Institute of Sociology and Political Science of Academy of Science of Kazakhstan, in the analysis of mass groups of the population, it is designated that the people having almost same level of the income were divided into two big groups which are conditionally called «adapting» and «not adapting». They strongly differ on the social well-being and by estimates of the general situation in the republic. In the «adapting» group there is much higher than a level of loyalty in relation to central and local authorities, elite groups of the population — businessmen and politicians, they are tolerant in an ethnic question. However, the most important, their vital installations considerably changed: there is an orientation to own forces. These data allowed sociologists to draw a conclusion on existence among low profitable groups of the population of a special social layer — transit middle class which is currently extremely active and has the high level of social expectations .
The academy of Sciences of Kazakhstan conducts regular versatile researches of the most active social group — businessmen. The analysis of specifics of an enterprise layer allowed allocating two categories. The first are engaged in the solution of the private problems in all available formal and informal methods. The second, having passed a stage of initial accumulation of the capital, start analysing social and ideological aspects of the situation that then to take active part in social life. For this purpose they began to unite in the enterprise organizations in common to solve both economic and social problems. Formation of non-governmental associations of businessmen which united in the Confederation of Employers of the Republic of Kazakhstan (CERK) turned out to be consequence of it. The main direction of activity of this organization is participation in law-making process.
Unlike middle class of the western countries the Kazakhstan middle class is under the considerable pressure of a factor of uncertainty. The Kazakhstan middle classes strongly suffer from a lack of social guarantees, first of all — support guarantees on a case of need, unemployment, an old age, an illness and disability. Such guarantees are necessary, but in reality they do not exist, speak most of representatives of the Kazakhstan middles classes, including those who belong to their most successful part.
Radical market transformations in the country and the system crisis accompanying them significantly changed quantitative and qualitative parameters of middle class. At the beginning of economic reforms it was supposed that they will lead to the birth of economically independent social subject, capable effectively to carry out functions, traditional for it. That is to invest the Kazakhstan economy, to play a role of the main taxpayer, to act as the stabilizer of political processes.
The real potential representatives of middle class are heads of small and medium business, the creative intellectuals, managers, highly skilled workers, employees and some other segments of the population. In modern Kazakhstan society a basic social group, the main part of the intellectuals, technicians, workers of mass professions of trade and service, the most part of the agriculture. Its representatives possess average professional and rather limited labour potential. Though the social status, mentality, interests and behaviour of these groups is distinguishable, their role in transition process is rather similar is first of all, the adaptation to the changing conditions with the purpose to survive and whenever possible to keep the reached status.
Kazakhstan society on social stratification has a form of the «Eiffel Tower» where the most part of its basis, namely 60% of a population is presented by the lowest class, 30% — the starting middle class, 10% — the highest class . The top layer possesses the most powerful economic and energy potential. They can be considered as a new class on whom hopes are laid. This layer is in defiant opposition with other layers of society, partnership with other public groups is difficult, except for elite. Exactly thanks to elite, namely — the support rendered to it and got from it — receiving high excess profits and advance convenient legislative and regulations is possible.
In modern Kazakhstan society the existence of declassed elements making the overwhelming mass of the population of republic is great. Now this mass can be presented as a basic social group, which covers more than two thirds of society. Its representatives possess the average professional qualification potential and rather limited labour potential. Feature of social composition poor in Kazakhstan is that the part suppressing them works. Besides, poverty in the country do not have neither class, nor professional character as low profitable groups of the population are practically in all social and professional groups.
Thus, during deep social transformation of the Kazakhstan society, it is possible to see deep stratification of the population on polar groups with a big difference in the income. Growth of middle class happens slowly.
The modern model of economic development does not give objective opportunities for significant increase in it middle class. Only fast development of high-tech industries of economy, also, although in much smaller degree development of small and medium business can change a situation. Allocation of middle class on the basis of such criteria as welfare or subjective self-identification with middle class shows positive dynamics.
At an integrated approach to middle class which cornerstone existence laid in the human capital and certain professional positions, these positive tendencies testify rather not to growth of middle class, but the growth of the income of the population in general, also decrease in degree of dissatisfaction at many potential representatives of middle class.
(NKSU named after M. Kozybayev)
1. E. Giddens, Sociology, Editorail, URSS, 1999, p.704
2. Modernization of social structure of Russian society, editor: Z. Golenkova, Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 2008, p. 278.
3. Economy of the Central Asian states. The general review//the Electronic publication www.mfa.kz/rus/PHP/article.php? article=1&selected=34
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