Conclusion: Historiography and the new class
This volume has demonstrated that in the period before 1914 many ideas strikingly similar to concepts of the 'New Class' were employed, in application both to the growing 'middle layers' of society and specifically to their roles in and around the socialist and labour movements. What use do these concepts have for historians? Can we embrace a 'post-Marxism' which argues that the educated middle classes are not only central to the politics and social structures of today's capitalist and socialist societies but were, in fact, more significant to human societies than the emergence of the industrial working class during the past two hundred years? In my concluding remarks I will analyse critically a series of 'metatheories' which attempt to do precisely this, and then suggest what aspects of these theories may be useful to historians.