Is Class a Zombie Category? Essay example

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Is class a zombie category? - by Daniel Byrne ‘Talent is 21st century wealth. … It is the nation's only hope of salvation … Not equal incomes. Not uniform lifestyles or taste or culture. But true equality: equal worth, an equal chance of fulfillment, equal access to knowledge and opportunity. Equal rights. Equal responsibilities’ (BBC, 1999). This section of Tony Blair’s speech, given in 1999 during a Labour Party Conference, is one of many ways how one could have introduced this subject. However, this specific one points to something which is taken for granted, namely true democracy. If one works hard at it, this will one day pay off. This could be a starting point for what Ulrich Beck (2000) calls ‘zombie categories’. According to…show more content…
Beck (2000, 2006, 2007), Bauman (2000), and Standing (2011) constructed this recent concept to explain how old social classes have dissolved in importance to give way to new inequalities, inequalities in risk distribution. Beck even goes as far as calling contemporary societies ‘risk societies’ (Beck, 1992). According to Individualisation theorists, risk is becoming a part of everyday life: through work (i.e. employment flexibility, job flexibility, skill flexibility) (Standing, 2011), education (i.e. greater stress on education and training) (Mythen, 2005), consumption (i.e. risk of climate change, pollution, etc.) or even through the risk of catastrophes (i.e. incidents such as Chernobyl or 9/11) (Beck, 2001). However, through disparities in education, incomes etc., risk is also becoming unequally distributed while giving rise to new inequalities which do not fit into the old class schemas (Standing, 2011). What is meant by ‘old class schemas’? Wright (2003) distinguishes between four different ways of looking at class, which are of interest when defining it: (1) ‘Class as a subjective location’ (i.e. how people locate themselves in a social structure); (2) ‘Class as objective position within distribution’ (i.e. how people are objectively materially distributed); (3) ‘Class as the relational explanation of economic life chance’ (i.e. what explains inequalities in life chances and material standards); and (4) ‘Class as a dimension of
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