Social Classes in Contemporary Societies
- Actualité Sciences Po
On 29-30 June 2017, the Sciences Po's Observatoire sociologique du changement organised an international symposium about "Social Classes in Contemporary Societies: Issues and Challenges"
The two-day symposium tested the relevance of the approach to better understanding of social and political issues in terms of classes.
All the presentations focused on recent empirical research conducted in various national contexts (Europe, North America, Latin America, South-East Asia) and are based on various methodologies and theoretical approaches.
The symposium highlighted the polysemy of the notion of social class. Three types of definition were mobilized during the presentations.
- A first definition, impregnated with the Marxist filiation and the work of Erik Olin Wright, is based on the criterion of workplace ownership and authority relations.This definition has been used in several papers on the dynamics of income and wealth inequality (Wodtke, Chauvel) and also partly on political attitudes and voting (Oesch).
- A second definition closely links social classes to occupational groups.It is the dominant definition in communications devoted to social mobility issues (Costa-Ribeiro, Lopez-Roldan & Fachelli, Vallet), inspired by the work of John Goldthorpe.
- The third definition is part of an inductive, constructivist approach to the notion of class, by closely combining the objective and subjective aspects of the notion.