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The fall and rise of class analysis in British sociology, 1950-2016

Savage, Mike ORCID: 0000-0003-4563-9564 (2016) The fall and rise of class analysis in British sociology, 1950-2016. Tempo Social, 28 (2). pp. 57-72. ISSN 1809-4554

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Identification Number: 10.11606/0103-2070.ts.2016.110570


This paper considers the changing nature of class analysis in Britain, focusing on three generations, and with a particular interest in the reasons for the revival of class analysis in the past 15 years. I show how the ‘heroic’ approach to class in Britain, which was very strong between 1950 and 1975, depended on emphasising the role of the working class as agents of progressive social change. Whilst this was a powerful force during this period, it locked class analysis into a historical moment which was fast being eclipsed given the scale of de-industrialisation in Britain during this period. During 1975-2000 class analysis faded in Britain because the white, male, industrial working class seemed much less significant in shaping British society. The most recent period since 2000 has seen the remarkable revival of ‘cultural class analysis’, strongly associated with the influence of Pierre Bourdieu, and I sketch out its appeal, and its potential to enhance the study of class more broadly in the final part of this paper.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2016 The Author
Divisions: Sociology
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2016 11:38
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:25

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