Mapping the British Social Space: Toward a Bourdieusian Class Scheme

Will Atkinson, Lennart Rosenlund

Research output: Working paper

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The field of class analysis is currently undergoing profound change in the wake of Pierre Bourdieu’s influence, evident in the recent high-profile effort by some scholars to challenge the long-dominant neo-Weberian EGP schema and its official derivative, the NS-SEC, by mapping the British class structure on the basis of multiple forms of capital. However, as much as we support the turn to Bourdieu’s relational, multidimensional approach to class, the work done so far in this vein has unfortunately been at best limited and at worst deeply problematic. We therefore seek to offer an alternative map of the contemporary British class structure, or social space, sticking much closer to Bourdieu’s own method and logic, with the ultimate aim of providing a coherent, useful and replicable tool for statistical research. We proceed in two steps. First, we construct a schema of class fractions based on an aggregation of unit-level Standard Occupational Classification codes. Second, we assess the ‘criterion
validity’ of this schema through multiple correspondence analysis on the 2003 Cultural Capital and Social Exclusion survey. We then close with a short demonstration of the scheme’s empirical utility.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherSPAIS, University of Bristol
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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