Socail Class Essay

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Sociology Vol. 35, No. 4, pp. 835–854. Printed in the United Kingdom © 2001 BSA Publications Limited The Concept of ‘Social Division’ and Theorising Social Stratification: Looking at Ethnicity and Class Floya Anthias Department of Sociology University of Greenwich A B S T R AC T One of the most characteristic features of contemporary debates in the social sciences is the growth of interest in non-class forms of social division and identity, accompanied by an increasing focus on ethnic and gender inequalities. This paper attempts to provide a frame for incorporating such divisions into stratification theory by placing the notion of ‘social division’ at centre stage and redrawing its boundaries. The paper pays particular attention to ethnicity and class for the purposes of the argument. It is argued that a theorisation of social divisions can show how non-class forms of division and identity constitute central elements of the stratification system of modern societies. Such an approach also marries better with the wealth of evidence that scholars of ethnicity and ‘race’ have been collecting on the importance of race/ethnicity as structuring social location and differential and unequal social outcomes. class, ethnicity, exclusion, social divisions, status, stratification. K EY WO R D S Introduction A key feature of contemporary sociology is the growth of interest in non-class forms of social division and identity, accompanied by an increasing focus on ethnic and gender inequalities (Therborn 2000). However, this has not been accompanied by a rethinking of social stratification theory; the latter is still generally seen to be about economic inequalities organised on the basis of class (Scott 2000). Despite acknowledging that gender and ethnic/race processes are relevant in determining social positioning and that they may influence an individual’s class
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