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5 - Social class

from PART III - FIELD MECHANISMS

Nick Crossley
Affiliation:
University of Manchester
Michael Grenfell
Affiliation:
Trinity College Dublin
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Summary

Introduction

Bourdieu is distinctive among his contemporaries in having maintained a balance in the focus of his work between culture and lifestyle, on one side, and social class on the other. His analysis of cultural life maintains a strong focus upon class, prioritizing it in a way that is unusual today. He further distinguishes himself from much cultural analysis by using large quantitative (survey) data sets in this context. Equally, however, his cultural focus distinguishes him from most other class analysts. He resists the tendency in much class analysis, criticized by Savage (2000), of retreating from the territory of mainstream social science and ignoring culture and lifestyle in order to focus upon relatively narrow and technical issues. Bourdieu maintains a role for social class within the context of a mainstream and culturally focused sociology. However, there are very few places in his work where he discusses the concept of class directly. He never engages in any detail with other key contemporary theorists of social class (e.g. Goldthorpe or Wright) and he does not offer a typology of classes to compete with others on the academic market. His “theory” of social class, if it is appropriate to say that he has one, remains implicit for much of the time (although see Bourdieu 1985d; 1987; 1991e; 1998c: 10–13). My aim in this chapter is to make it explicit and explain why it precludes the formulation of a clear class typology.

Type
Chapter
Information
Pierre Bourdieu
Key Concepts
, pp. 85 - 97
Publisher: Acumen Publishing
Print publication year: 2012

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