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A study of class consciousness in relation to attitudes to the union among A.U.E.W. members in the potteries

Erdogan, Nihat Z


Nihat Z Erdogan


Trade unions emerged out of the conflict generating conditions of the capitalist stage of socio-econanic development, as the organisation of the people who participate in the production of the material wealth of society with their labour. They are, therefore, exclusively working class organisations, if one defines the term 'class' on the basis of people's relations to the means of production.
Although, through historical developnent quite a number of features of capitalist society have changed, the basic characteristic - appropriation of surplus value, which gave rise to trade unions - remains unchanged.
Like trade unions than.selves, workers' attachment to trade unions is the product of existing socio-econanic conditions. Trade unions are not anachronisms struggling to stay alive in society, but, living, functioning institutions.
To understand what trade union membership means to a worker, one has to begin with an examination of his relations with society in general, and of the formation of his attitudes and ideas. Because, before he is a worker, he is an individual, a social being in society.
Therefore, a discussion of the various theories on individual and society is the first chapter in the thesis. Three main theories are examined in this chapter: (I) Functionalist-integration theories, (2) Conflict theories, (3) Marxist theory.
In the second chapter on the "Dialectical Materialist View of Consciousness", it is argued that a worker's consciousness consists of two contradictory parts - (I) class consciousness, which is the outcome of his experiences as a worker and the existence of which is to a great extent indicated by his attachment to a trade union. (2) Social consciousness, which is the product of his 'social being' exposed to the dominant ideology.
In this conflictual situation trade unions play a dual role. On the one hand, because they organise workers, they help develop the working class which is objectively opposed to the capitalist system as a whole. en the other hand, by becoming institutionalised within the system, trade unions help to limit the further development of the working class, though it has potential for further development.
As his experiences as a worker increase, his class consciousness develops, while his social consciousness contracts.
These are the main assumptions of the theory of 'consciousness and working class consciousness' which is subsequently tested with material gathered from interviews with members of the A.U.E.W. in the Potteries.

Publication Date Jan 1, 1976
Additional Information For access to the hard copy thesis, check the University Library catalogue.

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