Social Class and Straification

Topics: Social class, Sociology, Marxism Pages: 121 (44672 words) Published: September 19, 2013
Other books in the Society Now series Research Methods Patrick McNeill Age and Generation Mike O’Donnell Family Adrian Wilson The Sociology of Schools Karen Chapman Whose Welfare? Tony Cole Media Sociology David Barrat Official Statistics Martin Slattery Gender Stephanie Garrett Deviance Peter Aggleton Work, Unemployment, and Leisure Rosemary Deem

Peter Saunders

SOCIAL CLASS AND STRATIFICATION

London and New York

First published 1990 by Routledge 11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge 29 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001 This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2001. © 1990 Peter Saunders All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress ISBN 0-415-04125-2 (Print Edition) ISBN 0-203-12971-7 Master e-book ISBN ISBN 0-203-17562-X (Glassbook Format)

Contents

Preface 1 2 3 4 5 6 Marx, Weber, and social stratification Social class and social inequality in Britain Thinking about social inequality Social mobility The changing class system in Britain Conclusions

vi 1 27 41 68 85 129 132 136

References Index

v

Preface
Sociology in Britain today is strongly underpinned by a left-wing political consensus – what I have termed elsewhere a ‘socialist– feminist orthodoxy’. This bias appears to be particularly marked in GCE A-level texts, as Professor David Marsland’s recent book, Seeds of Bankruptcy (1988), London and Lexington: Claridge Press, all too depressingly demonstrates. Too often in contemporary sociology, opinion is allowed to substitute for analysis and socialist values are adopted uncritically as the starting point of commentary and evaluation. The analysis of social class and inequality is peculiarly susceptible to this problem, given the centrality of these issues to socialist theory and politics. Social stratification is one of the most crucial and fascinating areas of contemporary sociology, but it is also one of the areas where science and politics have become dangerously entangled. It is often said that all sociological accounts are partial. This is true. But this does not mean that we have to neglect competing

vi

explanations which do not agree with our own, nor does it mean that we can ignore empirical evidence which does not say what we want it to say. In this book I have tried to present for the student a range of perspectives and to evaluate them against the available evidence. I have made a particular effort to include material drawn from the neo-liberal tradition (the so-called ‘New Right’), for what passes for debate in the sociology of stratification has generally ignored this literature altogether. My aim has been to produce a book which goes some way to meet David Marsland’s demand for ‘genuinely open debate’ within the A-level sociology syllabus. I would like to thank David Marsland for initially stimulating me to write this book, Pete Langley for encouraging me to publish it in this form, and Pat McNeill for his helpful comments on an earlier draft.

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1
Marx, Weber, and social stratification
The concept of ‘social stratification’ The term ‘stratification’ has been borrowed by sociologists from the science of geology. There it refers to the successive layers or strata of rock and other materials which have been laid down over the millennia to form the earth’s crust. Translated into the very different science of sociology, the concept of stratification has been adapted to...
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