Monday 2 November 2015 witnessed the launch of a fresh take on social class here at LSE. In Social Class in the 21st Century (Pelican 2015), Professor Mike Savage (LSE) and the team of sociologists behind the BBC’s ‘Great British Class Survey’ reported their definitive findings and proposed a new way of thinking about social class in Britain today. The book looks beyond labels to explore how and why our society is changing, and what this means for the people who find themselves at the margins as well as at the centre. Listen to the event podcast here.
To mark the occasion, LSE Review of Books have brought together 6 other must-read books that attend to class in the 21st century across the globe.
How does culture articulate, frame, organise and produce stories about social class and class difference that relate contemporary models of success, failure, struggle and aspiration? This book investigates the changing landscape of class from 1980s Britain to the present, showing how it has become populated by a host of classed figures including the Essex Girl, the ‘squeezed middle’, the ‘feral underclass’ and the ‘selfish baby boomers’ amongst others. Steven Harkins praises the book as one of the most well-written and researched overviews of the ‘underclass’. Read the full review.
This book aims to offer an original perspective on the significance of racism and anti-racism in the making of the English working class. Sarah Burton finds that the book identifies the complicity of some working-class movements, people and labour organisations in using the ‘racialized other’ as a tool for grounding the working class in ideas of nationhood and belonging, thereby securing their right of existence and equality. Read the full review.
This book focuses on the working-class experience of gentrification in order to re-examine the enduring relationship between class and the urban. Harriet Fildes appraises it as making a thought-provoking effort to conceptualise gentrification not only as an economic project, but also as a cultural and moral one aimed at restructuring places and people. Read the full review.
This book uses extensive interview material and ethnographic research to explore the experiences and ideas of African Americans as they confront and construct gentrification during a marked period of urban restructuring and demographic change in the US capital. Susan Marie Martin finds this book particularly valuable for those studying middle-class urban renaissances across different locations and periods. Read the full review.
This book pieces together disparate understandings of class to show the tremendous social changes that have been experienced in China in recent years. As chapters traverse such topics as inequality, political elites and peasant activism, Chia Wei-Yan Aloysius commends Goodman for offering an absorbing and coherent portrait of class in contemporary China. Read the full review.
This book traces the transformation of Tamil Brahmans from a primarily rural agrarian group in the late-19th century to an urbanised, highly mobile, white-collar middle-class group in the early-21st century. Dannah Dennis recommends it for anyone wishing to learn more about the Tamil Brahmans as a middle-class caste and to consider the broader intricacies of caste and class in South Asia as a region. Read the full review.
For more information about upcoming book-related events at LSE, visit our events page.