Social Stratification: Trends and Processes

Social Stratification: Trends and Processes

Social Stratification: Trends and Processes

Social Stratification: Trends and Processes

Synopsis

Research into social stratification and social divisions has always been a central component of sociological study. This volume brings together a range of thematically organised case-studies comprising empirical and methodological analyses addressing the challenges of studying trends and processes in social stratification. This collection has four themes. The first concerns the measurement of social stratification, since the problem of relating concepts, measurements and operationalizations continues to cause difficulties for sociological analysis. This book clarifies the appropriate deployment of existing measurement options, and presents new empirical strategies of measurement and interpretation. The conception of the life course and individual social biography is very popular in modern sociology. The second theme of this volume exploits the contemporary expansion of micro-level longitudinal data and the analytical approaches available to researchers to exploit such records. It comprises chapters which exemplify innovative empirical analysis of life-course processes in a longitudinal context, thus offering an advance on previous sociological accounts concerned with longitudinal trends and processes. The third theme of the book concerns the interrelationship between contemporary demographic, institutional and socioeconomic transformations and structures of social inequality. Although the role of wider social changes is rarely neglected in sociological reviews, such changes continue to raise analytical challenges for any assessment of empirical differences and trends. The fourth theme of the book discusses selected features of policy and political responses to social stratification. This volume will be of interest to students, academics and policy experts working in the field of social stratification.

Excerpt

Paul Lambert, Roxanne Connelly, Vernon Gayle and Robert M. Blackburn

Social stratification: Trends and processes

Social stratification is a mature area of study within sociology and has traditionally been of central concern to those interested in the structure of contemporary societies. This collection brings together a series of chapters themed around the study of social stratification and its trends and processes. Many of the chapters engage with substantial quantities of new empirical evidence concerning stratification structures, often demonstrating new or emerging techniques of analysis being brought to bear on complex specialist topics. The papers themselves are linked to a long-standing research seminar group, the ‘Social Stratification Research Seminars’, which has held annual meetings covering the broad remit and debates of social stratification since the late 1960s.

The chapters in this volume are unified by a conception of social stratification as a system of social structures of consequential inequality that are enduring and reproduced (cf. Bottero 2005). The central thread that runs through the volume is the study of substantial social inequalities. These inequalities are usually economic in their nature and enduring in their character. The chapters in this volume explore the social mechanisms which lie behind these social inequities.

Most studies of social stratification feature either a comparative element, such as in asking how different are separate societies or time periods (questions about trends), and/or a causal element, in asking about the underlying social mechanisms that generate, or sustain, structures of inequality (questions about processes). These two types of question – about trends and processes – provide the theme of this book. Each chapter addresses a topic in social stratification and tackles issues of either a comparative or a causative nature as is relevant. Each study seeks to make a contribution in one of four theme areas – the volume covers issues in measuring and studying stratification in Part 1; life course analysis in Part 2; the impact of wider social structures in Part 3; and policy responses in Part 4.

The contributions to the current volume are all sociological in character. Whilst social stratification research has a rich and fruitful history, it has arguably declined in its relative prominence within sociological publications in recent

1 The meeting continues to the present. We encourage interested readers to visit www.camsis.stir.ac.uk/stratif where seminar details and calls for papers for future meetings are published.

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