Class and status: on the misconstrual of the conceptual distinction and a neo-Bourdieusian alternative
In this article, Magne P. Flemmen, Vegard Jarness and Lennart Rosenlund address the classical debate about the relationship between the economic and cultural aspects of social stratification.
In this article, we address the classical debate about the relationship between the economic and cultural aspects of social stratification, typically cast in terms of Weber’s distinction between class and status. We discuss in particular Chan and Goldthorpe’s inf luential, yet largely unchallenged, attempt to reinstate a strict version of the class-status distinction, mounted as an attack on ‘Bourdieusian’ accounts. We argue that this is unconvincing in two respects: There are funda-mental problems with their conceptualization of status, producing a peculiar account where one expression of status honour explains the other; in addition, their portrayal of the Bourdieusian approach as one-dimensional is highly ques-tionable.
In contradiction of a reading of Bourdieu as discarding the class-status distinction, we develop an alternative, neo-Bourdieusian account that recognizes class and status as distinct aspects of stratification, thereby allowing for a subtle analysis of their empirical entwinement. The fruitfulness of this approach is dem-onstrated by analysing the homology between the space of lifestyles and the social space through Multiple Correspondence Analysis of unusually rich data about lifestyles. Importantly, we highlight the relative autonomy of these spaces: Although they exhibit a similar structure, they do not overlap completely.