Class Analysis and Social Transformation

Class Analysis and Social Transformation

Class Analysis and Social Transformation

Class Analysis and Social Transformation

Synopsis

"... a tour de force. The style is engaging, quite an achievement for such a complex analysis." - Professor Steve Edgell, University of Salford

• Do we now live in a classless society?

• How is it possible for us to live in a more class-divided society when people's awareness of class is relatively weak?

• What implications do contemporary social and cultural transformations have for understanding the relevance of social class?

Academic discussions about social class tend to be increasingly specialized and have found it difficult to unpack processes of cultural as well as social change. This book breathes new life into class analysis by showing how contemporary social and cultural transformations are related to the restructuring of class relations. Using the British experience as a case study, Mike Savage gives a definitive account of debates on class and finds evidence of both the breaking down and persistence of class divisions. He employs a variety of disciplinary perspectives to provide a comprehensive account of the main features of contemporary social change. Particular attention is paid to arguments developed by Beck and Giddens concerning individualization, and he shows how the redrawing of individual relations is tied in to the remaking of social class in complex and largely unrecognized ways. Class Analysis and Social Transformation brings together recent empirical research on class with topical theoretical debates on social and cultural change. It offers a compelling interpretation of the field in its entirety and an authoritative and accessible text for social science students wishing to learn about the debates on class analysis.

Excerpt

In response to perceived major transformations, social theorists have offered forceful, appealing, but contrasting accounts of the predicament of contemporary Western societies. Key themes emerging have been frequently condensed into terms like postmodernism, postmodemity, risk society, disorganized capitalism, the information society. These have important and widespread ramifications for the analysis of all areas of social life and personal wellbeing. The speculative and general theses proposed by social theorists must be subjected to evaluation in the light of the best available evidence if they are to serve as guides to understanding and modifying social arrangments. One purpose of sociology, among other social sciences, is to marshal the information necessary to estimate the extent and direction of social change. This series is designed to make such information, and debates about social change, accessible.

The focus of the series is the critical appraisal of general, substantive theories through examination of their applicability to different institutional areas of contemporary societies. Each book introduces key current debates and surveys of existing sociological argument and research about institutional complexes in advanced societies. The integrating theme of the series is the evaluation of the extent of social change, particularly in the last twenty years. Each author offers explicit and extended evaluation of the pace and direction of social change in a chosen area.

In this volume, Mike Savage offers an authoritative and incisive review and critique of recent work on social class. The sociological tradition made the working class the main point of reference, a serious handicap in the face of the dissolution of working-class culture and politics. An alternative approach to class analysis is envisaged, one which is neither a form of grand narrative nor a narrow technical specialism. Instead, class, in its lived complexity, can be used as a lens for viewing institutional change. At the centre of recent transformations is the recasting of the ideal of individual autonomy by the middle classes, most prominently in the form of projects of the self, which, although presented in populist form, is alien to and exclusive of people in less privileged positions. Cultural aspects of class relations are revolutionized. Class Analysis and Social Transformation develops a highly . . .

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