Bourdieu What Makes A Social Class

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What Makes a Social Class? On The Theoretical and Practical Existence Of Groups* By Pierre BoQrdieu It would be easy and tempting to deride the topic of this symposium and to uncover the presuppositions it conceals under its apparent neutrality. But if you will allow me just one criticism of the way it formulates the question of social class, it is that it misleads one to believe that this problem can be reduced to a simple choice and resolved by a few common-sense arguments. In fact, behind the proposed alternative-is class an analytical construct or a folk category?-hides one of the most difficult of all theoretical problems, namely, the problem of knowledge, but in the very special form it assumes when the object of this knowledge is…show more content…
To this view of the problem one can oppose, and this has often been done, particularly by conservative sociologists, the idea that classes are nothing but constructs of the scientist, with no foundation whatsoever in reality, and that any attempt to demonstrate the existence of classes by the empirical measurement of objective indicators of social and economic position will come up against the fact that it is impossible to find, in the real world, clear-cut discontinuities: income, like most properties attached to individuals, shows a continuous distribution such that any discrete category one might construct on its basis appears as a mere statistical artefact. And Pareto 's formula, according to which it is no easier to draw a line between the rich and the poor than between the young and the old-one might add nowadays: between men and women.-:. this formula will always delight those, and they are many, even BOURD~EU: WHAT MAKES A SOCIAL CLASS? 3 among sociologists, who want to convince themselves and others that social differences do not exist, or that they are withering away (as in the theme of the embourgeoisement of the working class or the homogenization of society) and who argue on this ground that no domi· nant principle of differentiation exists. Those who claim to discover "ready-made" classes already constituted in objective
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