chapter  11
Inequality, Class, and the State in Rural Egypt
WithNicholas S. Hopkins
Pages 13

The transformation of Egyptian agriculture has had important effects on village social organization and rural class structure, as well as on the role of the state in rural life. Class is of course a highly problematic concept. The notion of class used implies a provisional aggregate of individuals whose life experience has been molded by the labor process; a change in the labor process may produce different life experiences and so a different pattern of class affiliation. This produces what Marx called a "class in itself. The notion of the hierarchical control of work leads us to postulate that a class relation exists when one person or group of persons asserts control over the work of another. This is the case (in principle) when a farmer hires another person to work for him, or when the state, through its agents, intervenes in the production process.