Social Class

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


Social class has featured in geographical writings since the early 1970s. Since this time there have been significant changes in the class landscape, arguably the most important being the perceived disappearance of the “working class” in advanced industrialized nations. Deindustrialization and several decades of substantial social mobility have seen generations of young people from working-class backgrounds gain educational qualifications to secure employment in the expanding “middle class”. Yet often the employment posts they obtain are relatively low in pay and status, and the workers remain relatively disadvantaged by a lack of job security. Reflecting a growing realization that class and its accoutrements have not disappeared, calls for a renewed focus on class present a picture of Western society marked by a growing divide between a wealthy elite and the multitude of groups being pushed to the periphery by changes in labor markets and associated institutional structures. Geographical work has revealed how more and more people are becoming marginalized, as well as the consequences of this process for politics and space. Within this body of research, contemporary class experiences and emotions are understood as complex as inequality is (re)produced in line with broader patterns of social disadvantage. There are also important variations noted between Western, and more specifically European, transformations of class, and changes observed in the Global South where the global division of labor has created a new working class, but without the trade union consciousness or politics to rally against dismal working conditions and employment prospects
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of Human Geography
EditorsAudrey Kobayashi
Pages 233-238
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9780081022955
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Bourdieu
  • Class
  • Context-Specific Theory
  • Gender
  • Identity
  • Inequality
  • Intergenerational Inheritances
  • Intersectionality
  • Marx
  • Middle Class
  • Social Class
  • Social Mobility
  • Spatiality
  • Working Class


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