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Unpacking the modern working class: Life chances, social cohesion and recognition in an age of migration

With the surprising election of Donald Trump, and the Brexit vote in the UK, the question of the contemporary working class is back on the agenda. However, this is a category poorly understood in contemporary social science, and this is especially the case in Norway.

About the Project

Our project raises four crucial question that seek to describe the contemporary working class, its political orientation, lived experience and their media representations.

First, our project will detail the changing demographic composition of the group, with particular emphasis on its gender, ethnic and generational make-up. By taking advantage of the novel class scheme, ORDC, we will scrutinise changes both between the working class and other classes, as well as within the working class.

Second, we will detail their changing political orientation, with particular emphasis to generational shifts. We will also unpack its internal political heterogeneity, seeking to explain its fracturing into a loyal social-democratic wing and supporters of right-wing populism.

Third, we will study the representations of specific working-class occupations in the media, with emphasis on whether these representations are framed in terms of threat or conflict, and which topics characterize media coverage of these groups.

Fourth, we will inquire into the relationship between ascribed low-status of these occupations and workers' feelings of self-worth through interviews and participant observation. We will also study the relation between workers notions of the elite/the dominant cultural group and how they imagine their national belonging and access to power.


Primary objective: To gather new knowledge about the working class, with special attention to the ethnic composition of this class, the relations within this category, and between workers and the broader society, its central institutions and the government.

Secondary objectives:

1) Study class formation and social mobility into and out of the working class.

2) Explore the political attitudes on migration and the welfare state, and the levels of social trust and political participation among workers.

3) Study how the working class, represented by specific occupations, is portrayed and represented in mass media.

4) Provide knowledge about contemporary cultures of esteem and recognition through conducting ethnographic fieldwork


Department of Jounalism and Media Studies, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences

NOVA, Norwegian Social Research, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences

Institute of Social Research

Funding scheme

The total grant award was for NOK 7 988 000.

Welfare, Working Life and Migration (VAM)

The Research Council of Norway

Published Feb. 23, 2018 3:26 PM - Last modified Sep. 15, 2021 10:34 AM