How big is the working class?

I am seeking scientifically derived opinions which come to a real verifiable and historically current number as to the absolute size of the international working class, or “proletariat” as defined by the generally accepted categories of scientific socialism.

“Wage earning producers of material value.” I understand that the definition of working class is perpetually up for debate so I will post any figures here that are 1. substantiated, and 2. defined with clear limits.

From my own viewpoint the proletariat may own tools of his or her trade, but is principally a wage earner. Figures which include small scale producers and family businesses which create material value but are typically employed by contract and may hire assistant labor and services in various forms may be socially very close to the working class and politically influenced by working class politics but they should be counted as a separate statistic. Farm or farm business owners even at the small scale should be considered separately as well.

Teachers, social workers, and administrators and other union workers who produce no material value should be considered separately.

Wage earning employees of large corporations who are involved in transportation and telecommunications should be considered as part of the working class.

Police, Fire and other state services should be considered separately by my definition.

I am open to other opinions as regards these categories .

So how many of us are there in the world? If we are to demand our fair share. It would be helpful to know.

P.S. October 25, 2013,,

In the comments below i post a link to ILOSTAT the International Labor Organization’s statistical data base.  If one tally’s the “labor force” by country on this data base the total is approximately 3.5 billion  more or less one half of the world population.

The ILO definition of the labor force is ““Labour force comprises all persons of working age who furnish the supply of labour for the production of goods and services during a specified time-reference period. It refers to the sum of all persons of working age who are employed and those who are unemployed.”

This is not exactly the same as a class. For one it would exclude working class children, disabled people and retired persons who are part of the class but are not available to the “labor force”.  For another it probably includes (i need to study the statistical standards which I have not yet done) Managers, and other individuals who are part of the gross labor force from the statistical perspective of bourgeois economics but are not part of the working-class as traditionally understood.

About rawlinsview

News and political commentary from the point of view of the social interests of the international working class.
This entry was posted in Analysis of Mature Capitalism, How Big is the Proletariat?, Labor Movement, opinion/current affairs, Political Economy, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How big is the working class?

  1. rawlinsview says:

    This is current data based upon the definition provided below. It is from the ILO (international labor organization) ILOSTAT database
    “Labour force comprises all persons of working age who furnish the supply of labour for the production of goods and services during a specified time-reference period. It refers to the sum of all persons of working age who are employed and those who are unemployed.”

  2. rawlinsview says:

    Maximilian Hyland Why did you choose to exclude teachers? We produce value, like other service workers do.
    This comment from a facebook string on the same subject, link below.

    Of course to some extent the boundaries drawn here are arbitrary. My goal is to use the web/cloud/great electronic orb, to help me get hold of some good hard numbers and start to take a look at the political action of the working class in the 21st century in a different way. So if you have some insight into this and teachers happen to be included in a broader statistic on the working class please don’t hesitate to send them on.
    Teachers, especially public school teachers at the elementary through high school level in the US are economically on par with what might be called the aristocracy of labor. But in my view they are not part of the working-class from the point of view of scientific socialism.
    I would argue that teachers are consumers rather than producers of the social surplus, and that they fit more closely into various aspects of the middle-class. This is not to say that teachers do not perform an extremely valuable task from a social point of view, of course they do. And teachers have been shown historically to be important political allies of the working class movement and in many cases a driving force in the labor movement. So, in my view the working class should support teacher’s right to organize. If we are able to build a working class or labor party in the US. Teachers unions would no doubt be an important part of this.
    However, I think that it is more consistent to consider the teachers wages part of the social surplus assigned to the cost of reproduction of labor and to consider ‘value’ as understood in the tradition of scientific socialism to relate to the manipulation of the material world and the creation of specific use values which are exchangeable as commodities. A narrow view of the working class in this tradition is that the working class is:
    a. divorced from the means of production and
    b. engaged in the production of surplus value which is derived from the realization of value in commodity exchange.
    Part of my purpose in trying to keep the definition narrow is one that by drawing these sort of distinctions we come to a more scientific rather than feel good analysis. and politically the trend over the past 30 years in bourgeois economics has been to largely deny the existence or to predict the disappearance of the working class in a “post-industrial” or “service” economy. The rhetoric of liberals serves for the most part to ignore the existence of the working class and to talk incessantly of the “Middle Class” in the hopes of a woebegon world in which all children are above average and everyone is in the “middle class”
    Teachers, in popular parlance, would most certainly be considered middle class in most industrialized economies and probably so too in most of the developing world.
    But I do not believe for a minute that the working class is shrinking. I assume that it is growing in accord with the general trends of capitalism to dispossess the petty bourgeoisie of means of production. I would like however to be able to back up that assumption with some real data and to eventually be able to compare it to critical historical moments in the 20th century say 1917, 1930, 1949 for example. In so doing I am seeking a conservative rather than an expansive figure.
    Please do continue to comment RV

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