Class IQDA2013


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IQDA Teaching Resource 'Class' produced 2013. Attribute as follows: Irish Qualitative Data Archive [distributor], 2012. For fully downloadable version including audio-clips visit:

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Class IQDA2013

  1. 1. Class This teaching and learning resource has been produced by the Irish Qualitative Data Archive as part of the NUI Maynooth/NDLR Learning Innovation Community Support Project, “Teaching and Learning Through the Archive”. The presentation includes short interview excerpts from the Life Histories and Social Change Project, century-ireland where the respondent have given their consent to be identified.Irish Qualitative Data Archive, 2013 Additional teaching resources are available at resources Development of this resource funded by National University of Ireland Maynooth / National Digital Learning Repository Attribute as follows: Irish Qualitative Data Archive [distributor], 2012.
  2. 2. Class Image courtesy of The National Library of Ireland
  3. 3. Concepts: Class Social mobilityClass consciousness
  4. 4. 1. What do we mean by ‘class’
  5. 5. 1. What do we mean by ‘class’?“There are many ways to explain, even to justify, inequalities of opportunity and outcome ... [In] all modern societies, wealth, income, education and social esteem or status are always of key importance. ‘Class’ is widely used by sociologists in discussions of these kinds of inequality.” (Share, Tovey and Corcoran, 2007, pg. 180).
  6. 6. 1. What do we mean by ‘class’?• [A] system whereby people are grouped according to their common economic position, especially as those positions give access to differential rewards in the shape of wealth, property, income and power• *An+ expression of people’s lifestyles, in particular how they consume and how they express themselves through certain styles of consumption• [A] matter of social esteem, prestige or status – a measure of social standing within a particular society (Share, Tovey and Corcoran, 2007, pg. 181)
  7. 7. 2. Class in Ireland
  8. 8. 2. Class in Ireland“In the first half of the twentieth century, opportunitie s open to Irish people depended heavily on whether the family own property such as a farm or small business” (Share, Tovey and Corcoran, 2007, p. 162) Image courtesy of The National Library of Ireland
  9. 9. Cooring: diminishing or reinforcing class division in rural Irish communities?Cooring means...“the exchange of labour between households, either routinely, or at particular points of the year such as haymaking when labour needs are high” (Tovey & Share, 2003, p. 108)
  10. 10. Cooring: diminishing or reinforcing class division in rural Irish communities? “According to Arensberg and Kimball [the institutions of kinship and cooring] reflected the strong value that local culture placed on the obligations of neighbourliness. They also helped ensure a level of equality between the farm households in the local area and prevented any from falling into severe poverty or debt, or indeed from becoming particularly wealthy” (Tovey & Share, 2003, p. 108)
  11. 11. Think about... Listen to the interview excerpt on the next slide and think about the following questions.Q1. Which social group was seen as more powerful within the community?Q2. Why do you think they were seen as more powerful?Q3. According to the interview participant, how was higher status shown?Q4. Does this excerpt support or contradict Arensbergs and Kimballs argument that cooring ensured a level of equality?
  12. 12. Audio clip An account of class in a rural community Source: Life Histories and Social Change Project, LH102 (male, born in 1916) And tell me this Michael, em, a lot of people we talk about remember there was different classes in society. You know, there was the upper class or the lower class?RESP: There was, a lower class, the upper class had special seats in the in the gallery, as in the church, they had definitelyINT: Right who were they?RESP: Big farmersINT: RightRESP: Had their name up in the, you darent go into their seatsINT: Yeah so people were aware of it, you knew it?RESP: Oh you knew it, oh Jesus they were, oh God they were. And you see if the big farmer had the thresh on and you might have two or three days hed make you work and youd be there in the morning earlyINT: Is that right, yeahRESP: Hed be looking over you the whole timeINT: Is that rightRESP: Wanting thered be, could be thirty men in at the threshing and hed be there and hed be spotting everythingINT: Making sure the work was done right?RESP: The work was done right and hed shift you to another job if you werent pulling your weightINT: Yes, and did you do those that kind of work when you were a teenager?RESP: Oh God I did, we all did it, and then youd have two or three days, the big man had always the majority, for everythingINT: So if anything would be going on theyd get the jobs done first?RESP: They would, theyd get the big man ordered and then theyd get the first inINT: And would they pay you well?RESP: They’d give you nothing *laughs+ a thankless jobINT: Is that rightRESP: You’d be lucky if you had your coat coming home, and your fork!INT: Is that right
  13. 13. 3. Social Mobility
  14. 14. 3. Social MobilitySocial mobility can be understood in two key ways:• as structural mobility: a consequence of changes in the occupational structure itself• as relative social mobility: the chance or ‘odds’, compared to others’, of moving into a different class to the one into which one is born (Whelan, 1995 cited in Share, Tovey and Corcoran, 2007, pg. 172)
  15. 15. 3. Social Mobility[W]hen mobility opportunities are blocked or constrained, what might otherwise remain simply economic differences between individuals are transformed into membership of identifiable social classes with distinctive lifestyles and unequal life chances.(Tovey, Share and Corcoran, 2007, pg. 174) Image courtesy of The National Library of Ireland
  16. 16. Think about... Listen to the interview excerpt on the next slide and think about the following questions.Q1. How does this respondent distinguish the better off people from the poor in the community of his childhood?Q2. How did ownership of property affect the opportunity to get access to secondary education in this community (called ‘college’ here)?Q3. The participant describes how the teacher selected the sons of farmers to continue to secondary education, and how these boys were picked out in front of the class. How might such actions contribute to the reproduction of social class?
  17. 17. Class inequalities in education in the 1930s Audio clip Source: Life Histories and Social Change Project, LH109 (male, born in 1924) And when you were going to school what did you hope you were going to get out of life when you grew up then?RESP: *Incredulous laughter+ You didn’t know what to do at that time. There was five of us, five boys, in the same class. And there was a priest came over one day and he asked the teacher could they, or she, recommend anyone that would like to go to college down to Rochestown I think to college in Rochestown. She picked out two boys and then she said ‘I could give you a third fella as well’, she said, ‘but he couldn’t afford it.’ *Laughter+ We couldn’t either. They were farmers you see, the two boys that were picked.INT: And were they picked out in front of each other? Did the other boys know who was being picked?RESP: Oh they did, yeah they didINT: YeahRESP: As far as like the senior class nowINT: I know what you mean. And so, you’d have known who was well off and who wasn’t well off, would you?RESP: Well yeah, that way you would yeah, you would yeahINT: Would you?RESP: You wouldINT: Who were the better off people?RESP: Well the farmers were better offINT: Were they?RESP: They were. Because they were able to grow their own potatoes and all vegetables and they had their own milkINT: [Interrupts] And who were the poor people?RESP: And their wheat, grinding, making the flour. Ah God, they’d be better off than we were anyway, you knowINT: And who were the poor people then Patrick?RESP: Well I suppose we’d be, we’d be classed as poor then, yeahINT: Yes. Your father was working for somebody or whatever?RESP: That’s right yeah, that’s right, yeah, that’s right
  18. 18. 4. Symbols andStrategies of Class
  19. 19. 4. Symbols and Strategies of Class“Class awareness involves a shared awareness and acceptance of a common style of life among the members of a class” (Breen and Whelan, 1996 cited in Share, Tovey and Corcoran, 2007, pg. 189, emphasis added)Class consciousness implies “recognition that the attitude, beliefs and styles of life that members of this class have in common signify a class affiliation, that there are other classes with different attitudes, beliefs and patterns of behaviours”. (Ibid.)
  20. 20. Think about... Listen to the interview excerpt on the next slide and think about the following questions.Q1. The respondent remarks that her mother has no friends in her local area. How does she explain this lack of interaction with the neighbours? On what grounds are the neighbours delineated into two groups?Q2. In her story of ‘one-upmanship’, what words or phrases indicate a class related attitude in the woman she met through voluntary work?Q3. The respondent states that, “most of the time people take you as they find you”. Do you think that this excerpt contains an abundance of, or lack of, class consciousness?
  21. 21. Symbols of class Audio clip Source: Life Histories and Social Change Project, LH233 (female, born in 1952) What about em, like your parents or other adults, would they have mixed?Resp: Em [short pause] not with the neighbours, not with the neighbours. Its only lately that me mam and I, we were actually talking about this, you know, and eh, I said to her I think at one stage, "why have you no friends?" ya know. Now she didn’t have friends, she had friends but they weren’t from where we lived, they weren’t any of the neighbours, she spoke to the neighbours but she had friends but they weren’t from Drimnagh where we lived. Em, she said to me, she said, "I’m not good enough for the people in the purchased houses" she said, and she said "I think I’m a bit better than the people that live in the corporation houses" [laughter] so that was it but she had her friends from when she was children and that she grew up with and her sisters and all so she had plenty of company but she didn’t have any friends in, you knowInt: And do you think that now has class changed, would you find it different from then?Resp: I think from my own experience *pause+ when you’re mixing with people 95% of the time it doesn’t matter ya know, I think like because [pause] I think most of the time people take you as they find you and its not actually important where in the social ladder you are, but there are occasions when you can see, yes there is, there is still a bit of one upmanshipInt: Can you give me a for instance?Resp: Em *long pause+ Eh I’d say its *pause+ I’ll give you an example: I do a bit of voluntary work, one of the ladies there, em, a very nice lady but sort of *sigh+ in *pause+ inclined to be, I don’t know how to describe it but I always felt she *pause+ she was looking down on me, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but I couldn’t figure out what, ya know, and we were doing something one day, we were actually in Cape Town in South Africa and we were bringing a big container of water back to our food stock and she was talking about her son and, ya know doing business and the whole lot. "Ah yeah yeah" I said about the son being in college, "ah yeah" says I, "I done business and science" and she stopped dead in her tracks and she looked at me and she said, she said, "you were in college?", I said, "yeah, yeah, yeah", "what are you doin workin as a secretary?", I said "I like it" but she was totally surprised totally, the idea of me going to college was "ah" [intake of breath] like, you know, like if I had of told her I taken wings and flown to the moon for me holidays she couldn’t have been more surprised, like it was like I hit her over the head with a sledge hammer. So she had to revise her opinion of me at that stage, you know, so that was her perception of me that I was, so suddenly I was on the same level that I had been to college to business and science and the whole lot, and Id attended college so she had readjust her thinking on that one.
  22. 22. ReferencesTovey, H. and Share, P. 2003, A Sociology of Ireland, 2nd Ed., Gill & McMillan, Dublin.
  23. 23. Note on this teaching resource IQDA Teaching Resources by Irish Qualitative Data Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at century-ireland. Life Histories and Social Change was funded by the Irish Research Council (IRCHSS). Images on slides 2, 8 and 15 are courtesy of The National Library of Ireland. This teaching resource was prepared by Ruth Geraghty. IQDA would like to acknowledge Linda OKeefe and Aileen OCarroll for their work on this teaching resource. Preparation of this teaching resource was assisted by an NDLR Learning and Innovation Project grant from the NUI Maynooth Centre for Teaching and LearningIrish Qualitative Data Archive, 2012