Working Class Identity Studies and Names

Exam boards love you to throw in names - More knowledge and interpretation marks for the win!

  • Created by: Maria
  • Created on: 07-01-10 18:10


Bourdieu (1986) - Class differences can be seen in three ways: Social, Economic and Cultural Capital

The possession of Social, Economic and Cultural capital displays your social class. Typically, the better you have of these (high cultural and economic capital and better social connections) the higher your class.

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Bourdieu - Social Capital

Social Capital - In effect, social networking (but not the facebook kind). You will look out for others in your social class, and in turn they will look out for you. Usually, this is achieved, but it can be ascribed (mainly through old boy/girl networks for the higher classes). Can also be linked to education - top universities will often encourage their pupils to keep in touch with others in the same position as them.

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Bourdieu - Cultural Capital

Cultural Capital - A knowledge of high culture (stuff like classical literature, art and music). This can be learnt from your education. Higher classes can afford better education which emphasise the necessity of high culture, and so it's more likely that you'll have high cultural capital if you come from this type of social class. Knowledge of high culture can also be passed down from the family. People from the top public schools are thought to have the highest level of cultural capital as they learn about high culture from two agents of socialisation.

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Bourdieu - Economic Capital

Economic Capital - Related to your money. Can be income, residual family wealth and inheritance. The more economic capital, the higher your class. You can have high economic capital from your income alone (high paid jobs) or from a lot of inheritance.

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Willis (1977) - Traditional Working Class Culture

Willis (1977) found these characteristics of Traditional working class culture:

  • Jobs in manual or unskilled labour
  • Traditional gender roles
  • Boys following their significant male role model's career path
  • Strong community bonds
  • Links with the Labour Party
  • Immediate gratification (Living for the moment)
  • Housing in cheaper and less desirable areas
  • More likely to rent housing
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Skeggs (1997) - Working Class Women

Skeggs studied 12 working class women in the Midlands who had enrolled in courses for the caring professions. She found that:

  • The women wanted to distance themselves from traditional working class values
  • They wished to appear respectable
  • They wanted their own careers
  • They wanted to own their own homes
  • They dressed in a manner which disassociated them from other working class women
  • They wanted to appear 'respectable' - implying that other working class women aren't
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Savage et al (2005) - Class identity

Savage (et al) (2005) interviewed 50 people from a traditionally working class area of Manchester. The majority of men were in manual jobs and half of them belonged to a social club (giving a sense of community). The women in the study based their lives around their families. The majority of families owned their own cars, homes and other consumer goods. Most had to travel to work. They found that:

  • Only 21% of interviewees had an idea of what their social class was
  • 41% thought they had no clear class
  • 40% thought they were working class
  • 18% thought they were middle class.
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