Studying Society: Lecture 2


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These are the slides from my Studying Society course at Durham University's Foundation Centre. These slides are from week 2 which is about social class and economic, social and cultural capital.

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  • Give everyone a post-it (or scrap of paper) and ask them to write their social class down anonymously. What kinds of answers do I get? Is there much of a range? Did anybody find it difficult?
  • In later weeks we will be looking at gender and ethnicity as ‘class’ divisions within society.
  • Compare with functionalist model“The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political, and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness” Marx, critique of political economy.Diagram from this blog Capitalism as production for exchange value, communism as production for use valueDominant ideology
  • Browne, Ken (2011) An introduction to sociology 4thedEvaluate a bunch of professions in terms of economic, social and cultural capital.
  • Give everyone a post-it (or scrap of paper) and ask them to write their social class down anonymously. What kinds of answers do I get now? Is there much of a range? What changes have their been (if any!?).
  • Studying Society: Lecture 2

    1. 1. Class and Inequality
    2. 2. OutlineClass – key conceptsEconomic capital – MarxSocial capital – PutnamCultural capital – BourdieuClass in UK
    3. 3. Which social class are you?
    4. 4. Class – key conceptsThere is inequality in all societiesSocial Stratification is saying one class of people is better than othersThe extent to which people can move from one class to another is social mobility
    5. 5. ascribed Vs achievedAscribed status – given at birth, and can‟t usually be changed e.g. gender, ethnicityAchieved status – achieved by individuals through their own effortsIs social class ascribed or achieved? Homer Simpson and Montgomery Burns
    6. 6. Video – class in USAThis is a video from a film about class in the USA• Why is the concept of class so contentious within US society?• Physical looks are referred to, how can that be important for class? How can class affect looks?
    7. 7. Group activityThinking about the video, in your groups discuss the following questions for the UK (or societies that you are familiar with)1. How can you tell which class somebody is from?2. Which indicators are more important?3. How easy is it to change class?
    8. 8. Marx in a nutshell!The economy is at the base of everythingMode of production [feudalism capitalism Superstructure: communism] Everything else Base: Economy
    9. 9. As the mode of production changes, everything else must change too Feudal religion Capitalist religion Communist religion Feudal art Capitalist art Communist art Feudal laws Capitalist laws Communist laws Feudal everything Capitalist everything Communist everything Feudalism Capitalism CommunismFeudalism and Capitalism have different, conflicting, classes,but only under communism is class conflict resolved
    10. 10. Problems with Marx‟s class• Focus on economy obscures those not involved in economy (children, women)• Conditions of working classes has undoubtedly improved since Marx‟s time• Homeownership, pensions etc makes many people „capitalists‟ to some degree• Persistence of false class consciousness, “we‟re all middle class now”
    11. 11. Social Capital“the collective value of all social networks and the inclinations that arise fromthese networks to do things for each other” (Putnam)“it‟s not what you know it‟s who you know”Studies have shown that this is important in many areas job search finding a mateBridging and bonding capitalYour class position is determined by your social capital
    12. 12. Does facebook increase social capital?What kinds of social capital [bridging or bonding]?Does it make society more or less equal in terms ofsocial capital?What effects might facebook have on economic capital(in)equality?
    13. 13. Cultural Capital„From Bourdieu‟s “Distinction” (1984)Cultural capital of critical importanceCultural capital can take many forms• Knowledge and understanding of creative and artistic aspects of culture • E.g. Frasier Crane• Educational qualifications • Dr Nick Pearce BSc (hons), MSc• Lifestyles and consumption Cultural capital • Food, fashion, coffee Vs tea determines which• Embodied culture class you are • Physique, obesity, hair, beards, sun tan
    14. 14. What about:Professionalfootballer?Town mayor?Modern artist?
    15. 15. “I know my place” was satire in the 1960s, but how has UK society changed?How important is each type of class today?
    16. 16. Does it matter?
    17. 17. Which social class are you?
    18. 18. Summary• Societies are unequal• Social class describes some of this inequality • Economic capital • Social capital • Cultural capital• It is difficult to change the class you were born into• Next week we will examine the consequences of this.
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