Social or Economic Class? False Dichotomies, Reductionism and Abstract Categories

Eleni Papagiannaki, Bruce Philp, Alexandra Arntsen

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


    Against the backdrop of socio-economic conflict, this paper analyses a number of approaches to classes in the economics, political economy and sociology literatures. Our argument is structured into two themes which consider: (i) class and individualism; (ii) social and economic classes. We also consider deductive and inductive class analyses within these themes. This typology is used to classify the methodological approaches of scholars from a variety of traditions, thereby providing a basis for assessing their congruence, and the plausibility of developing an integrated perspective on class, spanning heterodox economics and sociology. Initial discussion considers classical political economy and its Marxian derivatives, including Lenin?s criteria for categorising classes, and relatively recent approaches derived from economics, political economy (in the Marxian tradition), and sociology. Based on our analysis of the two themes identified we argue that the abstract pairs of categories ? class-individual, social-economic ? should not be falsely dichotomised. In addition, we argue that a reductionist approach to class (be it economic or micro-reductionism) only provides a partial account, and fails to capture the complexity of class in relation to other forms of social stratification.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherCentre for Applied Finance and Economics (CAFE), Birmingham City Business School, Birmingham City University
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 3 Feb 2020


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