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Uprooting class? Culture, world-making and reform

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Publication details

JournalThe Sociological Review
DatePublished - 1 May 2015
Issue number2
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)415-432
Original languageEnglish


The paper opens up the issue of how to relate culture to class in the UK. First, problematizing the conflation of class with status - inherent to stratification models like the GBCS - we theorize culture as 'world-making' rather than limit culture to artistic or individual possession. Second, exploring culture in the wake of reforms aimed at local and institutional 'cultures' that are said to hold back economic growth, we examine power relations between class and culture. After clarifying how Weber's analysis of stratification keeps economic relations underpinning class distinct from the cultural mores of status groups, we point to a third dimension in his emphasis on parties - those groupings locked in the struggle for dominance across all levels and modes of life - as the 'house of power'. Contrary to his supposition of homogeneity, however, we suggest legitimation today requires contesting parties, including factions and interest groups, to recruit from across class and status groups. Arguing recruitment to parties is enhanced by a mood of endless reform - in which modernity appears bent on tearing up its own foundations - we indicate how the resulting sense of precariousness is augmented by the stratifying technologies of grading and ranking. The pertinent question is: Who benefits from endless reform? And if the answer is no more than to recognize how benefits are skewed to an 'elite' working on behalf of owners of capital, then it is time to put aside stratification for an analysis of class relations that pointedly attends to wider notions of culture by asking: Who gets the say in world-making?

    Research areas

  • Class, Culture, Modernity, Parties, Power, Precariousness, Reform, Stratification, World-making

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