The collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked the commencement of a new era – one which is considered to be triumphant for capitalism and democracy. Francis Fukuyama called it not only the triumph of liberalism, but even the end of history. He ascertained "the century that began full of self-confidence in the ultimate triumph of Western liberal democracy seems at its close to be returning full circle to where it started: […] to an unabashed victory of economic and political liberalism" (3).In its classical definition liberalism is usually identified with the philosophies of John Locke, David Hume, Jeremy Bentham, and John Stuart Mill ("Liberalism", Oxford Dictionary).

These writers emphasize social–contract theory, a world where human beings are guided by enlightened self–interest, rationality, and free choice. They argue for the minimum intervention of the state in the lives of individuals.This dominant ideology of the Western democracies assigns to the working class in industrial society to play a significant role in the process of social change as well as in the fight for social justice. In this view it is important to realize the possibility of a working class in relation to the triumph of liberalism and its place in the community under the new circumstances.

To accomplish this task we should consider the popular conceptions developed by liberal sociologists and examine their applications in modern society.The Essence of Liberalism The main point of liberalism is its opposition to political absolutism in all its forms. In this opposition it attempts to ensure that individuals and groups can resist any authoritarian demands. In practice this has commonly meant a split between, on the one hand, a public world and a private world where rights are defined. The most common of which are to private property, and, on the other hand, the free exercise of religion, speech, and association.

Among sociologists, the key objection to the philosophy of liberalism has centered upon its beliefs in the individual autonomous self, and in the possibility of neutral rules. Both arguments are asocial assuming the existence of individuals and abstract rules without a society that shapes them. Nowadays many sociologists note we are witnessing the steady replacement of an ordered liberty with the libertarianism of John Stuart Mill, in which "freedom is absolute, the self is bounded by even private morality and convention, and one’s actions are protected even from social disapproval" (Hamburger 4).Mill demanded "a maximum degree of non-interference compatible with the minimum demands of social life" (qtd. in Hamburger 4). While liberty was formerly understood as having traits beyond the self, bound by morality and religion and tied to the interests of the commonwealth, now the individual is concerned as the one and only depository and arbitrator of all values, and is hence in an adversarial relationship to society and the state.

But it is obvious that such liberty could be regarded as a threat to liberalism itself. Probably the most celebrated contemporary liberal is the philosopher John Rawl, whose book "A Theory of Justice" provides an original formal theory of social contract, in which he aimed to provide a moral basis for the just society by conceiving of a contract in which the rights and obligations of citizens would be laid down before they knew of their own social position and lacked knowledge of others (Morton 107).Achievements and Failures of Liberalism The immense achievement of liberalism lied in the step–by–step replacement of force by law, of arbitrary rule by generally adopted regulations. But the triumph of liberalism was limited to the domestic life of the nation-state.

Among the nation-states of Europe, for instance, no body of law and no superior force had been established, and the European states structure keeps to be founded on force – and thus on fear.Though liberals of the prewar period hoped to establish the rule of law in international relations, their efforts were in vain, mostly due to success of their own principles, as in an age of self-governing peoples, each perfectly forming a nation, "it was hard to envision, let alone establish, some still greater force that could formulate and impose international policies" ("Chapters in Western Civilization" 375).The founders of liberalism created natural public law on the basis of a simplification of natural right. By viewing the principles of justice as simply pertaining to those rules required for social peace, or trust, and divorcing natural right from perfection, they sought to normalize the exception on the very basis of the Machiavellian principle that the public safety is the highest law.However it became questionable whether, if perfection is forgotten and the only solid ground of public law is self-preservation, men can be bound by natural right to any social order at all; and since the self-preservation of the individual is in any case problematic as a justification for a collective order that must reckon with the possibility of war, the principle that public safety is the highest law would become the principle that there is no law that constrains what a people or its leaders may do to preserve their collective existence (Jensen 88).

Working Class RomanticsIn the history of liberal thought no one but Michael Young and Peter Willmott contributed so much to the sociological studies of working class life. In 1957 they published famous "Family and Kinship in East London". There are two main themes to this work. One is the relationship between family networks, class and social geography (community); the second is the effect on this relationship of migration from old established working class parts of the city, which was an important concern as developments like the New Towns and new suburban council estates changed the geography of London.These scholars described the role of people's surroundings on their everyday lives.

This book was a kind of sociological love letter that serenaded the intensely human qualities of an area threatened by postwar planning. The authors' research on Bethnal Green, an old, densely populated, and relatively dilapidated residential area just east of London's financial district, focused on more than the appearance of this area. Through a variety of sensitive methods, they documented how family life styles were supported by the physical characteristics of local urban settings.The variety of sizes and types of low cost housing found in close proximity enabled different generations of families to maintain near-spontaneous contact with each other, with a high degree of mutual support occurring. Young and Willmott didn't stop with description of the status quo, but followed local residents over time. When the younger generation families were strong-armed into moving to lower density, relatively monolithic council flats in peripheral areas, the authors documented a characteristic withering of intergenerational ties and the adoption of new life styles in the changed residential contexts.

This book had profound messages on the salience of urban form in people's everyday lives, of the social implications of urban renewal, of longitudinal research. In it the scholars drew a very important conclusion: "The home and the family of marriage become the focus of a man's life, as of his wife's, far more completely than in the East End.... Their lives outside the family are no longer centered on people; their lives are centered on the house.

This change from a people–centered to a house-centered existence is one of the fundamental changes resulting from the migration" (127). This case-study of one population of working people in one particular context during one specific time-period can claim to be a study of the impact of industrialization on family and kin relationships if one accepts the arguments of sociologists who use a single sample of interviews from one time and place.The authors argued later on the basis of mentioned study and one undertaken three years later, that the patterns of social life were already influenced by the process in question, so the effects of the process are observed at the time of investigation. (Young ; Willmott "The Symmetrical" 18). The influence of industrialization upon working class was examined almost at the same time in Richard Hoggart's 'The Uses of Literacy' (1957) where the most important changes in people's lives were outlined: the large-scale slum clearance and rehousing which helped transform the physical environment of life for many working-class people.The broad contemporary context of Hoggart's work was the erosion of working class identity by the "hedonistic-group-individualism" lurking within the affluence and material security of the 1950s.

(173). Mass culture and affluence had made British society "culturally classless," wearing away the "older, the more narrow but also more genuine class culture" (279). 'The Uses of Literacy' was an elegy for pre-war working class communities.Hoggart's antagonism and nostalgia were mediated through a language which emphasized that the public identity of class was grounded in the private sphere: "The more we look at working class life, the more we try to reach the core of working-class attitudes, the more surely it does appear that that core is a sense of the personal, the concrete, the local: it is embodied in the idea of, first, the family and, second, the neighborhood" (32).

For Hoggart class identity was found in a highly gendered interior, one in which husband and wife were present, albeit with different roles, one in which 'work' was the realm of the woman:This is in many respects a good and comely life, one founded on care, affection, a sense of the small group if not of the individual. It is elaborate and disorderly and yet sober: it is not chintzy or kittenish or whimsical or "feminized. " The father is a part of the inner life of the home, not someone who spends most of his time miles away earning the money to keep the establishment going: the mother is the working-centre, always with too much to do and with her thoughts revolving almost entirely around the life of this family room. (37)In this picture, the mother figure was "the pivot of the house [...

] [who] more than the father holds" the family together; the underlying theme was that such women were also the pivot of traditional working class identity (37). Hoggart paid an often sentimental tribute to the sacrifices of mothers, marked by "the lines on the face of an old working-class woman" (44). But 'The Uses of Literacy' also portrayed the older woman as a reminder of an older, more cohesive working class, uncompromised by the rise of affluence and consumerism or changing patterns of female work.By contrast with trends in the fifties, for example, Hoggart's woman worked strictly within the bounds of the private sphere. She was invariably an older woman whose work had not been made easier by the growing proliferation of household appliances and consumer goods (38).

There was also an asexual quality to her. Hoggart remarks, for example, that it "is evident that a working-class mother will age early, that at thirty, after having two or three children, she will have lost most of her sexual attraction; that between thirty-five and forty she rapidly becomes the shapeless figure the family know as 'our mam'" (42).In this, the working class woman could only be recognised as "our mam" once she had become "shapeless"; in other words, she could only be used as a cipher for the integrity of the working class home once her period of active sexuality has passed and when her identity is perceived to have become less complex. Hoggart's female cipher of working class identity left little room for a more complex femininity. The importance of this gendered image to an evocation of an older and more certain class identity also comes through his dismissal of younger feminine characters.

Teenage girls became ciphers for the rootlessness and cheapness of the age of affluence; like modern 'classless' culture, they are "flighty, careless and inane […] everything they choose to do seems urban and trivial" (45). Hoggart thus used gender to articulate his antagonism to the emergence of a new sense of class. Nostalgia for older forms of femininity was one response to the emergence of newer forms of gender identities. In the formation and development of the British working classes in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the articulation of class was often intertwined with gender.

The ideal of the skilled, independent worker, for example, was not only the expression of a class ideal, but also a valorization of a particular gender ideology. Within such an ideology, femininity had to serve as a counterpoint to the male breadwinner: if work defined the gender and class identity of men, maternity did so for working class women. Domestic work in the private sphere, including maternity, rather than paid work in the public sphere was seen as the normative state of working class femininity (Koven ; Michel 1080).Developing Hoggart's views Josephine Klein noted it was also in the nature of working-class households, particularly those with several children, that girls became "apprentice Mums" at an early age (55). The larger the family the more likely it was that older girls - and 'older' could mean aged 6–7 would dress, feed, wash, mind, or take to the cinema their younger siblings, often with great care.

Working Class in Industrial Society The issue of working class role in the frameworks of industrial society is in the very focus in sociological studies.Under what conditions and through what processes will a class develop into a collective actor, or, at least, acquire a similar ideological disposition? Because the working class in industrial society is assigned by many theories a significant role in the process of social change as well as in the fight for social justice, the issue of its place and its potential has attracted wide attention and research. The term of industrial society is widely realized as a definite type of society whose culture, institutions, and development are determined by its industrial production process.Theories of industrial society constitute a species of technological determinism (Chandler, n.

p. ), or scientific evolutionism. It is claimed that the logic of applied science, or the technical processes, based on scientific expertise and values, makes necessary certain fundamental and irreversible modifications to the traditional culture and institutions of a society. As a cell of industrial society the family is to meet its requirements and to modify. Wilmott and Young in "The Symmetrical Family" introduced a concept of family symmetry.

They stated that family in Britain has undergone three major stages of development: pre-industrial family (until 1750) characterized as stable, productive as an economic unit, having economic links with wider society, with father as a head of household, exercising economic control over family; asymmetrical family (1750-1900) characterized as disrupted by industrialization process, involving a clear separation between home and work, having 'absent' fathers who work, emphasizing women's role as 'mother' and domestic laborer; symmetrical family (20th century) characterized as stable, child-centered, involving greater levels of equality between males and females. Their argument was that nuclear family conjugal relationships have been becoming symmetrical. They believed that a symmetrical arrangement would become more common. However, there is evidence to suggest that at the managerial level hours of work are increasing, thus working against managers of either sex having a demanding domestic role.In the circumstances it does not seem reasonable to see a trend towards symmetry, it is rather equality, and we are left with retention but also a blurring of the traditional divisions of labor, and even now are witnessing unequal participation by each sex in the domain. Nowadays the increasing rate of female employment and the effect of the feminist movement may have allowed women, especially those of working class who were earlier considered mostly as housekeepers, to increasingly base their social class identifications on their own accomplishments.

It is important to note that nowadays even the very definition of the working class has been noticeably changed, as there is no one amorphous working class, since there are a number of ways in which the class is divided into distinct groups.There is an upper working class or aristocracy of labor which consists of skilled workers – occupations such as fitters, electricians, and the like – where incumbents have been apprenticed or learned a trade (one third of working class). A second division – that between those working in primary rather than secondary labor–markets. Some members have better paid and more secure jobs (primary labor–market). Most skilled workers belong to this primary labor–market.

Many female and ethnic–minority workers are found in the lower–paid, more insecure secondary labor–market, lacking standard labor contracts, pension and illness entitlements, paid vacations and so forth.The other notable feature of the working class in developed industrial societies is that it is shrinking, largely due to a combination of technological change (notably automation) and the decline of the primary and manufacturing sectors. Only about one third of the economically active would be working class by the classical definition that it is the class which should sell its labor–power in order to survive (Oxford Dictionary "Working Class"). Conclusions Having entered new millennium a few years ago we observe that the three great liberal ideas of peace, democracy and free markets dominate the world – not because they are practiced everywhere (obviously they are not) but rather in the sense that for the first time they have no serious rivals as formulas for organizing political and economic life.

Although many countries that do not have genuinely democratic governments or effectively functioning free markets will acquire them is a question to which only the course of the 21st century will provide the answer. But the global spread of liberal ideas and institutions is taking steps to narrow the gap between rich and poor, to establish equal possibilities for different social classes of industrial society and even to smear the inter–class differences. Dissemination of liberalism above all of working free markets and property- and rights-protecting governments offers the best and perhaps the only hope for closing that gap and for the victory of humaneness.