Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-8bbf57454-jcfbx Total loading time: 0.267 Render date: 2022-01-21T12:20:52.619Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

2 - Social Class and Inequality in Later Life

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 February 2021

Chris Gilleard
Affiliation:
University College London
Paul Higgs
Affiliation:
University College London
Get access

Summary

Social class and its related inequalities have been a mainstay of research in the social sciences. Research into class-related inequalities has existed alongside, but has often not been connected with, the concerns of class theory. Despite both approaches seeming to depend upon one another in order to give substance to their claims of social significance, a strange lack of engagement continues to exist between the two traditions (Scambler and Higgs, 1999). In contrast to the limited work on social class theory, social class-related inequalities have been extensively researched, particularly in relation to health, where the connection between class, health and mortality has been well established (Antonovsky, 1967; Bartley, 2004). Even though this research has been criticised for its lack of theoretical justification and categorical imprecision (Cartwright and O’Brien, 1974), it continues to bask in the glow of its underpinning the analysis of the ‘Black Report’ (Whitehead 1992), establishing what the UK Conservative government came to term ‘health variations’. Its influence has continued, with regular assessments of its impact (MacIntyre, 1997), as well as acknowledgement of its role in creating the burgeoning field of health inequalities research (Bouchard et al, 2015).

While the field of inequalities has eschewed highly theorised concepts of class, ideas of social gradients or status abound (Marmot, 2006) along with the assumed psycho-social pathways to ill health created by such gradients (Wilkinson and Pickett, 2010). In the UK, policy recommendations such as those contained in the Acheson Report and the Marmot Review have focused on strategies to overcome inequalities even if this has been described as ‘a labour of Sisyphus’ (Bambra et al, 2011). The lack of a clear understanding of the structuring of social class links together the two strands of thinking about inequality in all its disparate forms (Goldthorpe, 2010; Scambler and Scambler 2015; Wemrell et al, 2016). Those concerned with these issues are confronted with the fact that while the nature of social class analysis has long been a central issue in the study of society and its social divisions, class remains, in the words of one contemporary analyst, ‘a slippery concept’ employed through a wide range of potentially disparate indices (Bottero, 2015: 15).

Type
Chapter
Information
Social Divisions and Later Life
Difference, Diversity and Inequality
, pp. 19 - 40
Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2020

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Send book to Dropbox

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×