Social Classes in Contemporary Societies (Conference)

Issues and Challenges
  • Picture: HstrongART/ShutterstockPicture: HstrongART/Shutterstock

 Social Classes in Contemporary Societies:

Issues and Challenges

Sciences Po, 29-30 June 2017

Caquot amphitheatre (28, rue des Saints-Pères, Paris 7e)

Do we still live inside class societies? Is the classical approach to social inequalities, political cleavages or lifestyles still relevant?

This conference, organized over two full days at the initiative of the Observatoire sociologique du changement (OSC), calls into question the current concept of “class” in the contemporary social sciences. It will bring together specialists from a wide range of thematics, theoretical and methodological backgrounds. With a broad international lens, the conference will draw on the comparison of various national contexts (including United States, United Kingdom, India, Brazil, Argentina).
Throughout the contributions, we will examine the explanatory power of the different existing theoretical models and their renewal, in contexts that are often disconnected from the European and North-American framework in which these theories were initiated and developed in the 19th and 20th centuries. Attention will be paid both to the generating mechanisms of class relations and their inclusion in various domains of social life: politics, lifestyles, and geography, especially within urban areas and large metropolises. The conference will focus specifically on the relationships between changes in the wealth distribution (the soar in high-income, the increased importance of heritage) and contemporary transformations of class boundaries and class relations. Emphasis will also be placed on the articulation between the division of society into classes and social mobility trajectories. Two cross-cutting questions will be central to these inquiries: what sort of theories of social class are relevant for the 21st century? How can micro (ethnographic, qualitative) and macro-social (quantitative, structural) approaches be used in a complementary way?

The format of the conference (about fifteen speakers) will allow time for open discussion between the speakers and all conference participants. Papers will be presented in English.

Scientific Coordination: Philippe Coulangeon and Marco Oberti.


  • Geoffrey Wodtke (University of Toronto)
    Classes in the 21st Century: Death, Decomposition, or Resurrection?
  • Daniel Oesch (University of Lausanne)
    The new tripolar space and class voting in Western Europe
  • Louis Chauvel (University of Luxembourg)
    "Repatrimonialization": the new role of wealth in the definition of social class systems
  • Carlos Antonio Costa Ribeiro (University of Rio de Janeiro)
    Class mobility in Brazil: 1973 to 2014
  • Pedro López-Roldán, Sandra Fachelli (Universitat Autonòma de Barcelona)
    Stratification and social mobility compared: Argentina and Spain
  • Louis-André Vallet (Sciences Po, CNRS)
    Intergenerational mobility and social fluidity in France over birth cohorts and across age: the role of education
  • Marie Cartier (Univeristy of Nantes) et Yasmine Siblot (University of Paris 8)
    The France of the Little-Middles":  exploring the fragile frontier between the working and middle classes
  • Agnès van Zanten (Sciences Po, CNRS), Ylva Bergström and Mikael Palme (University of Uppsala)
    The educational practices of upper-class families in France and Sweden
  • Johannes Hjellbrekke (University of Bergen)
    Social Class and Social Capital
  • Mathieu Ferry (ENS Cachan), Jules Naudet (EHESS), Olivier Roueff (University of Paris 8)
    In search of the Indian Social Space. A multidimensional portrait of social stratification in India
  • Jean-Louis Rocca (Sciences Po)
    Production and reproduction of social classes in market capitalist China
  • Mike Savage (LSE)
    Social class and inequality in contemporary London
  • Edmond Préteceille (Sciences Po, CNRS)
    The urban dimension of social class transformations in the Paris metropolis

Registration required:                           

Article updated on 08-06-2021
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