There is hardly any discussion of class that does not in some way relate to the theories of Marx and Weber. So profound was the impact of their ideas, that their writings are often perceived as the only original and most reliable interpretations of class society. But Marx and Weber were neither the first, nor last, to talk about class and they did so based on the specific conditions prevalent in their own communities. ‘Class’ explains this complex field using cultural, sociological and feminist perspectives. It deepens our understanding of the problems of class and uses illuminating examples from media, popular culture and literature that explain current class analysis. ‘Class’ is an ‘elegant, lucid comprehensive introduction’ that broadens our understanding of the concept and the immense power that it exerts by way of in- and exclusions.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Class—Why and How?
1.1. From Singapore to Sweden
1.2. The world after die Wende
1.3. Class—some fundamental distinctions
1.4. Class is dead, long live class
1.5. Feminist critiques
1.6. The cultural turn
1.7. The purpose of this books
2. Construction: The Grand Narrative of Class
2.1. The etymology of class
2.2. Class as conflict
2.3. Who were Marx and Engels?
2.4. The development of capitalist society
2.5. Historical materialism
2.6. Marxism after Marx
2.7. Class as situation
2.8. Who was Weber?
2.9. Class types
2.10. Class rather than status
2.11. Weberianism after Weber
2.12. Class and hegemony
2.13. Class and structuralism
2.14. Class just happens
2.15. Quantifying class
2.16. Feminist critiques of Marxism
2.17. Engels and Marxist feminism
2.18. Socialist radical feminism
2.19. Anti-racist class analysis and class critiques
2.20. The Birmingham School
2.21. The whiteness of the working class
3. Deconstruction: The Class Narrative Dismantled
3.1. Postmodern life
3.2. A postmodern working class
3.3. Postmodern critiques from the left or the right?
3.4. Jean-François Lyotard and postmodernism as narrative critique
3.5. Jean Baudrillard and the end of society and politics
3.6. Zygmunt Bauman and postmodernism as a state of mind
3.7. Once upon a time classes existed, and they mattered …
3.8. Beyond left and right?
4. Reconstruction: New Narratives About Class
4.1. Who were the workers?
4.2. The languages of class
4.3. Gareth Stedman Jones and the challenges of working-class history
4.4. Joan W. Scott and post-structuralist feminism
4.5. Patrick Joyce, postmodernism, and the crisis of social history
4.7. Class positions and forms of capital
4.8. Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of class
4.9. Beverley Skeggs’s feminist analysis of Bourdieu
5 Conclusions: Class Analysis, Past and Future
5.1. Class as classification, or, where to start
5.2. Class, a question of recognition and redistribution
Appendix: Dictionary definitions of class
Ulrika Holgersson is an associate professor of history at the Department of History, Lund University, Sweden. She is a cultural and gender historian, with media and popular culture as specific areas of expertise. Her publications include Popular Culture and Classification. The Discourses of Work, Class, and Gender in Swedish Women’s Magazines at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century (2005) and The Servant Maid and the Feature Film. Stars of the Swedish ’Folkhem’ of the 1930s and 40s (2016).
Featured Author Profiles
"Holgersson’s book makes an ideal introduction to a complex subject for students of both history and sociology. It combines lucid summaries of classic theories of class and of the postmodern debate about discursive construction with vivid examples from contemporary popular culture and original observations about class and gender." Professor Peter Burke, Emmanuel College Cambridge
"Class does not go away, it only changes name and form. This book recognises this handsomely. It is lively, accessible, and thoughtful in equal measure. It moves with the times, and therefore does justice to the changed times of class,revisiting old themes in a new way and opening up much new ground." Patrick Joyce, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Manchester, Honorary Professor, University of Edinburgh and Visiting Research Fellow, Trinity College Dublin