Skip to main content

‘Class’ in Britain

  • Chapter

Abstract

’Class’ in Britain has often been framed — from within and without — as a peculiarly ‘British’ question, with a distinctive national preoccupation with class. This is fortunate, since it allows us to sidestep the question of whether it is appropriate to speak of ‘national’ sociologies in a globalizing world (Beck, 2007). George Orwell writing in 1941 saw the British ‘as the most class-ridden country under the sun’ (1982, p. 53), whilst 56 years later Stein Ringen (1997, p. 7) writing from an avowed outsider’s perspective saw ‘this thing the British have with class’ as both a ‘fascinating peculiarity’ and ‘a sign of closed minds’ which he traced in both sociological and popular accounts. Certainly, class analysis was once regarded as central to British sociology in a way not attributed to other national sociologies. But if there is a particularly ‘British’ sociological approach to class, it has been one strongly shaped by transnational conversations, until the 1980s essentially an argument with American liberal theorists then, after a period of ‘crisis’, a more congenial European dialogue when British class analysis acquired something of a French accent. However, quite what ‘class’ means when we consider ‘this thing the British have with class’ is an interesting question, since both academic and popular meanings of ’class’ seem so diverse and changeable.

Keywords

  • Class Analysis
  • Social Mobility
  • Class Relation
  • Class Identity
  • Class Inequality

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1057/9781137318862_24
  • Chapter length: 27 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   169.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-1-137-31886-2
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   219.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   279.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Bibliography

  • Anderson, P. (1980) Arguments within English Marxism. London: New Left Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ball, S. (2003) Class Strategies and the Education Market. London: Routledge Falmer.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Beck, U. (1992) Risk Society. London: Sage, 1986.

    Google Scholar 

  • Beck, U. (2007) ‘Beyond Class and Nation: Reframing Social Inequalities in a Globalizing World’, British Journal of Sociology 58(3): 679–705.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Bell, D. (1973) The Coming of Post-Industrial Society. London: Heineman.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bennett, T.; Savage, M.; Silva, E.; Warde, A.; Modesto, G. and Wright, D. (2009) Culture, Class, Distinction. Abingdon: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Blau, P. and Duncan, O. (1967) The American Occupational Structure. New York: Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bottomore, T. (1955) Classes in Modern Society. London: Ampersand.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bourdieu, P. (1984) Distinction. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, first published 1979.

    Google Scholar 

  • Burrows, R. and Gane, N. (2006) ‘Geodemographics, Software and Class’, Sociology 40(5): 793–812.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Butler, T. and Robson, G. (2001) ‘Social Capital, Gentrification and Neighbourhood Change in London’, Urban Studies 38(12): 2145–62.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Butler, T. and Robson, G. (2003) London Calling: The Middle Classes and the Remaking of Inner London. London: Berg.

    Google Scholar 

  • Calhoun, C. (ed.) (2007) Sociology in America: A History. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cannadine, D. (1998) Class in Britain. London: Yale University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cavendish, R. (1982) Women on the Line. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chan, T. and Goldthorpe, J. (2007) ‘Class and Status’, American Sociological Review 72(4): 512–32.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Chan, T. and Goldthorpe, J. (2010) ‘Social Status and Cultural Consumption’, in T. Chan(ed.), Social Status and Cultural Consumption. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Charlesworth, S. (2000) a Phenomenology of Working Class Experience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clark, T. and Lipset, S. (1996) ‘Are Social Classes Dying?’, in D. Lee and B. Turner (eds), Conflicts about Class. Harlow: Longman, first published 1991.

    Google Scholar 

  • Crompton, R. (1996) ‘The Fragmentation of Class Analysis’, British Journal of Sociology 47(1): 56–67.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Crompton, R. (1998) Class and Stratification, 2nd edition. London: Polity.

    Google Scholar 

  • Crompton, R. (2006) ‘Class and the Family’, Sociological Review 54 (4): 658–77.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Crompton, R. and Gubbay, J. (1977) Economy and Class Structure. London: Macmillan.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Crompton, R. and Jones, G. (1984) White-Collar Proletariat. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Crompton, R. and Scott, J. (2000) ‘Introduction: The State of Class Analysis’, in R. Crompton, F. Devine, M. Savage and J. Scott (eds), Renewing Class Analysis. Oxford: Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  • Crook, S.; Pakulski, J. and Waters, M. (1992) Postmodernization. London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dahrendorf, R. (1969) Class and Class Conflict in an Industrial Society. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dennis, N. and Henriques, F. (1956) Coal Is Our Life: An Analysis of a Yorkshire Mining Community. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode.

    Google Scholar 

  • Devine, F. (1998) ‘Class Analysis and the Stability of Class Relations’, Sociology 32(1): 23–42.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Devine, F. (2004) Class Practices. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Devine, F. and Savage, M. (2000) ‘Conclusion: Renewing Class Analysis’, in R. Crompton, F. Devine, M. Savage and J. Scott (eds), Renewing Class Analysis. Oxford: Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  • Devine, F. and Savage, M. (2005) ‘The Cultural Turn, Sociology and Class Analysis’, in F. Devine, M. Savage, R. Crompton and J. Scott (eds), Rethinking Class: Culture, Identities and Lifestyles. Basingstroke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dorling, D. (2010) Injustice: Why Social Inequality Persists. Bristol: Policy Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Erickson, R. and Goldthorpe, J. (1993) The Constant Flux: The Study of Social Mobility in Industrial Societies. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Giddens, A. (1972) The Class Structure of the Advanced Societies. London: Hutchinson.

    Google Scholar 

  • Goldthorpe, J. (1996) ‘Class Analysis and the Reorientation of Class Theory’, British Journal of Sociology 45: 481–505.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Goldthorpe, J. (2000) On Sociology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Goldthorpe, J. (2007) On Sociology, 2nd edition, Vol. 2. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Goldthorpe, J.; Llewellyn, C. and Payne, C. (1980) Social Mobility and Class Structure in Modern Britain. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Goldthorpe, J.; Lockwood, D.; Bechhofer, F. and Platt, J. (1969) The Affluent worker in the Class Structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Goldthorpe, J. and Marshall, G. (1992) ‘The Promising Future of Class Analysis’, Sociology 26(3): 381–400.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Hall, S. (1972) Situating Marx: Evaluations and Departures. London: Human Context Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Halsey, A. (1994) ‘Sociology as Political Arithmetic’, British Journal of Sociology 45(3): 427–44.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Halsey, A. (2004) a History of Sociology in Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Halsey, A.; Heath, A. and Ridge, J. (1980) Origins and Destinations: Family, Class, and Education in Modern Britain. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hills, J. (ed.) (1990) The State of Welfare in Britain: The Welfare State in Britain since 1974. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hindess, B. and Hirst, P. (1975) Pre-Capitalist Modes of Production. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul

    Google Scholar 

  • Jackson, B. and Marsden, D. (1966) Education and the Working Class. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kerr, C.; Dunlop, J.; Harbison, F. and Myers, C. (1960) Industrialism and Industrial Man. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lambert, P.; Prandy, K. and Bottero, W. (2007) ‘By Slow Degrees: Two Centuries of Social Reproduction and Mobility in Britain’, Sociological Research Online 12(1), www.socresonline.org.uk/12/1/prandy.html, doi:10.5153/sro.1493.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lawler, S. (1999) “’Getting Out and Getting Away”: Women’s Narratives of Class Mobility’, Feminist Review 63(3): 3–24.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Lawler, S. (2005) ‘Disgusted Subjects: The Making of Middle-Class Identities’, Sociological Review 53(3): 429–46.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Le Roux, B.; Rouanet, H.; Savage, M. and Warde, A. (2008) ‘Class and Cultural Division in the UK’, Sociology 42: 6.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lipset, S. and Bendix, R. (1959) Social Mobility in Industrial Society. London: Heinemann.

    Google Scholar 

  • Marshall, G. (1990) In Praise of Sociology. London: Unwin Hyman.

    Google Scholar 

  • Marshall, G. (1997) Repositioning Class. London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Marshall, G.; Newby, H.; Rose, D. and Vogler, C. (1988) Social Class in Modern Britain. London: Hutchinson.

    Google Scholar 

  • Marshall, G. and Swift, A. (1996) ‘Merit and Mobility: A Reply to Peter Saunders’, Sociology 30(2): 375–86.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Marshall, G.; Swift, A. and Roberts, S. (1997) Against the Odds? Social Class and Social Justice in Industrial Societies. Oxford: Clarendon.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Marshall, T.H. (1950) ‘Citizenship and Social Class’, in Citizenship and Social Class And Other Essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • McRobbie, A. (2004) ‘Notes on “What Not To Wear” and Post-Feminist Symbolic Violence’, Sociological Review 52: 99–109.

    Google Scholar 

  • Milliband, R. (1989) Divided Societies. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Morris, L. and Scott, J. (1996) ‘The Attenuation of Class’, British Journal of Sociology 47(1): 45–55.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Orwell, G. (1941) The Lion and the Unicorn. London: Secker & Warburg.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pahl, R. (1989) ‘Is the Emperor Naked? Some Comments on the Adequacy of Sociological Theory in Urban and Regional Research’, International Journal of Urban and regional Research 13: 127–9 .

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Pahl, R. (1993) ‘Does Class Analysis Without Class Theory Have a Future?’, Sociology 27: 253–8.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Pahl, R.; Rose, D. and Spencer, L. (2007) Inequality and Quiescence: A Continuing Conundrum, ISER Working Paper 2007–22. Colchester: University of Essex.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pakulski, J. and Waters, M. (1996) The Death of Class. London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Parkin, F. (1972) Class Inequality and Political Order. London: McGibbon and Kee.

    Google Scholar 

  • Payne, G. (1987) Mobility and Change in Modern Society. Basingstoke: Macmillan.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Payne, G. (1992) ’Competing Views of Contemporary Social Mobility and Social Divisions’, in R. Burrows and C. Marsh (eds), Consumption and Class. Basingstoke: Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Payne, G. and Abbot, P. (1990) ‘Beyond Male Mobility Models’, in G. Payne and A. Abbott (eds), The Social Mobility of Women: Beyond Male Mobility Models. Basingstoke: Falmer Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Payne, G. and Grew, C. (2005) ‘Unpacking “Class Ambivalence”: Some Conceptual and Methodological Issues in Accessing Class Cultures’, Sociology 39(5): 893–910.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Prandy, K. and Bottero, W. (2000) ‘Social Reproduction and Mobility in Britain and Ireland in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries’, Sociology 34(2): 265–81.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Power, S.; Edwards, T.; Whitty, G. and White, V. (2003) Education and the Middle Class. Buckingham: Open University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reay, D. (1997) ‘Feminist Theory, Habitus, and Social Class: Disrupting Notions of Classlessness’, Women’s Studies International Forum 20(2): 225–33.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Reay, D. (1998a) ‘Rethinking Social Class: Qualitative Perspectives on Class and Gender’, Sociology 32(2): 259–75.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Reay, D. (1998b) Class Work. London: UCL Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reay, D. (2005) ‘Beyond Consciousness? The Psychic Landscape of Social Class’, Sociology 39(5): 911–28.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Reay, D. (2009) ‘Strangers in Paradise: Working Class Students in Elite Universities’, Sociology 43(6): 1103–21.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Reay, D.; David, M.E. and Ball, S.J. (2005) Degrees of Choice: Class, Race, Gender, and Higher Education. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ringen, S. (1997) ‘The Open Society and the Closed Mind’, Times Literary Supplement, 24 January 1997, p. 7.

    Google Scholar 

  • Roberts, K. (2001). Class in Modern Britain. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rose, D. (2006) Social Comparisons and Social Order, ISER Working Paper 2006–48. Colchester: University of Essex.

    Google Scholar 

  • Runciman, W.G. (1966. Relative Deprivation and Social Justice. London: Routledge and Keagan Paul.

    Google Scholar 

  • Saunders, P. (1995) ‘Might Britain be a Meritocracy?’, Sociology 29(1): 23–41.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Saunders, P. (1996) Unequal but Fair? London: Institute of Economic Affairs.

    Google Scholar 

  • Savage, M. (2000) Class Analysis and Social Transformation. Buckingham: Open University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Savage, M. (2003) ‘A New Class Paradigm’, British Journal of Sociology of Education 24(4): 535–41.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Savage, M. (2005) ‘Working-Class Identities in the 1960s: Revisiting the Affluent Worker Study’, Sociology 39(5): 929–46.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Savage, M. (2010) Identities and Social Change in Britain since 1940: The Politics of Method. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Savage, M.; Bagnall, G. and Longhurst, B. (2001) ‘Ordinary, Ambivalent and Defensive: Class Identities in the Northwest of England’, Sociology 35(4): 875–92.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Savage, M.; Bagnall, G. and Longhurst, B. (2005a) Globalization and Belonging. London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Savage, M.; Bagnall, G. and Longhurst, B. (2005b) ‘Local Habitus and Working-Class Culture’, in F. Devine, M. Savage, R. Crompton and J. Scott (eds), Rethinking Class: Culture, Identities and Lifestyles. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Savage, M.; Warde, A. and Devine, F. (2005c) ‘Capitals, Assets, and Resources: Some Critical Issues’, British Journal of Sociology 56(1): 31–47.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Savage, M. and Williams, K. (2008) ‘Elites: Remembered in Capitalism and Forgotten by Social Sciences’, Sociological Review 56(s1): 1–24.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Scott, J. (1996) Stratification and Power. Cambridge: Polity.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sayer, A. (2005a) ‘Class, Moral Worth and Recognition’, Sociology 39(5): 947–63.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Sayer, A. (2005b) The Moral Significance of Class. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Sayer, A. (2012) ‘Facing the Challenge of the Return of the Rich’, in W. Atkinson, S. Roberts and M. Savage (eds), Class Inequality in Austerity Britain: Power, Difference and Suffering. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Scott, J. (2001) ‘If Class is Dead, Why Won’t it Lie Down?’, in A. Woodward and M. Kohli (eds), Inclusions and Exclusions in European Societies. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Skeggs, B. (1997a) Formations of Class and Gender. London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Skeggs, B. (1997b) ‘Classifying Practices: Representations, Capitals and Recognitions’, in P. Mahony and C. Zmroczek (eds), Class Matters. London: Taylor and Francis.

    Google Scholar 

  • Skeggs, B. (2004) Class, Self Culture. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stewart, A.; Prandy, K. and Blackburn, R.M. (1980) Social Stratification and Occupations. London: Macmillan.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Thompson, E.P. (1978) The Poverty of Theory: And Other Essays. London: Merlin Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Townsend, P. (1979) Poverty in the United Kingdom. London: Penguin.

    Google Scholar 

  • Walkerdine, V.; Lucey, H. and Melody, J. (2002) Growing Up Girl. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Warde, A. (2007) ‘The Meaning of Cultural Omnivorousness, or the Myth of The Cultural Omnivore’, Cultural Sociology 1(2): 143–64.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Westergaard, J. and Resler, H. (1967) Class in a Capitalist Society. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wilkinson, R. and Pickett, K. (2010) The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone. London: Penguin.

    Google Scholar 

  • Williams, R. (1961) The Long Revolution. London: Chatto & Windus.

    Google Scholar 

  • Willis, P. (1977) Learning to Labour. Farnborough: Saxon House.

    Google Scholar 

  • Young, M. (1962) The Rise of the Meritocracy: 1870–2033: An Essay on Education and Equality. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

    Google Scholar 

  • Young, M. and Willmott, P. (1957) Family and Kinship in East London. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Copyright information

© 2014 Wendy Bottero

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Bottero, W. (2014). ‘Class’ in Britain. In: Holmwood, J., Scott, J. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Sociology in Britain. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137318862_24

Download citation