I come from a working class background in industrial Saint John, N.B. My father did not complete high school. He had many jobs prior to his mid-thirties working at MRAs, as an upholstetrer's assistant and in factories. After that he spent most of his time working as a security guard and had a few stints as a local union president. We lived in a working class neighbourhood in Saint John, known as Indiantown then and now more often referred to as the Old North End. The former appelation referred to the fact that the Saint John River was a great aboriginal highway and that natives had settled at the confluence of the Saint John River and the bay of Fundy where Bridge Street is today. But I digress. We were working class; we never considered ourselves middle class. Middle class kids were bussed into our neighbourhood to attend junior high school. Believe me ther was class conflict in the school between the two groups beginning with resetment all of the advantages they had accrued in live so far.
My father in law grew up in rural New Brunswick achieved a grade 8 education (common at the time) and worked for over 40 years for CN, starting by shovelling snow in the train yard and retiring as a train engineer. My wife group up in a working class family. Money was tight in the early years. They did not consider themselves middle class.
My wife and I had the opportunity to attend university that our fathers did not and achieved post-graduate degrees. By almost anyone's definition we are members of the middle class. Yet, it is hard to shake the working class dirt from one's boots and I for one don't want to. I I am very much a product of my working class upbringing.
There are many ways to look at class. Michael Katz in his studies of the class in 19th c. Hamilton used a static model , one in which you could take a snap shot of what class soneone was a member of at any one time. This can be contrasted with E.P. Thompson's more fluid and historical approach to class in The Making of the English Working Class. The verb is the key to his approach.
Consciousness is very important to class. If individuals who from an objective Marxian perspective are working class and perceive themselves as members of the middle class what is the consequences of this false consciousness? I would suggest that the msm, the capitalist class and the mainstream parties benefit from this situation.
I certainly don't want to turn this into an NDP bashing thread. I do want to note that the above goes a long way to explaining why I dislike the campaign the NDP are running in the NB provincial election and will be holding my nose when I cast my ballot for them.