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Introduction: Stratification or exploitation, domination, dispossession and devaluation?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/05/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Sociological Review
Issue number2
Volume63
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)205-222
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

This general introduction locates the GBCS papers on the elite, and their respondents, within a context. It emphasizes some of the key points made by the respondents in order to intervene in a discussion about what is at stake in doing sociological research on class. It draws attention to the differences between on the one hand status and stratification, and on the other class struggle perspectives, and hence the difference between a hierarchical gradational analysis and a relational one based on the struggle between groups over value. I begin to answer a question raised by many of the respondents in this special issue: 'what is the question that the analysis of class is designed to answer?' I also draw attention to some of the problems with Bourdieu's 'structuring architecture', showing how the partial reproduction of Bourdieu presents fundamental problems, leading to a Great British Stratification Survey ('GBSS') rather than a GBCS. The different trajectories in class analysis that confusingly merge over the concept of culture in the present are briefly mapped, showing very different intentions in analysis. I argue that to understand class we need to understand the processes of classification: exploitation, domination, dispossession and devaluation, and their legitimation. Overall this special issue extends the sociological debate on class into a larger political frame about injustice, classification and value. It develops arguments from anthropology that maintain that it is the ability to define what value is (through culture) that is the ultimate difference in politics and power.