Class, Individualization and Perceived (Dis)advantages: Not Either/Or But Both/And?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

One of the core contentions of individualisation is that the residents of contemporary Western nations are no longer willing or able to perceive the motors of their life paths as external, social forces such as ‘class’ or material resources and instead talk of internal, personal facets and motivations. This paper, grounded in a Bourdieusian understanding of class, engages with this prominent assertion through analysis of 55 life-history interviews with people from a mix of class positions. It reveals that though individualistic sentiments are present, the respondents were all too ready to cite various forms of capital as advantages or disadvantages as well, though the degree to which they were seen as ‘external’ or ‘individualised’ differed by class. Furthermore, when ‘class’ was brought explicitly into the frame it was generally seen as a playing a fundamental role in life’s trajectory, but mainly through issues of interaction and (mis)recognition rather than deprivation and inequality. Insofar as individualistic schemes of perception and class thus intertwine these processes could be said to represent what Beck refers to as a ‘both/and’ situation, but since they are neither particularly new nor damaging to class analysis the individualisation thesis is put in doubt.
Translated title of the contributionClass, Individualization and Perceived (Dis)advantages: Not Either/Or But Both/And?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalSociological Research Online
Volume15
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010

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