British Manual Workers: From Producers to Consumers, c. 1950-2000
A large majority of the labour force were manual workers in 1960.� As voters, they had electoral power to pursue collective goods.� As producers they were able to disrupt production.� The majority left school with no qualifications.� Their human capital consisted of skills specific to particular production processes.� These became obsolete with de-industrialization, and with the large rise in secondary and higher education.� Educated workers relied more on individual bargaining power, and less on collective goods.� Casting workers as consumers rather than citizens or producers punished those with low purchasing power, it de-legitimized producer collective action and justified low wages.� Poverty increased and relative wages fell.� Rising productivity was partly offset by rising house prices and longer household working hours.� Council-house sales enfranchised a minority and penalized the rest.� The majority continued to identify as working class, but their culture was discredited by market liberalism and consumerism.
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