CRS Final Class and Gender Study Guide
Final Exam Questions
Again, there were no questions related to gender
1. How have social scientists defined class? Which approach(es) do you prefer? Why?
2. To what extent does class remain a useful concept in a globalized, post-industrial
world? In your answer, be sure to consider at least two scholarly conceptualizations of class.
3. Pick two different ways scholars have explained the concept of class and assess the strength and weaknesses of each?
Important terms:
· Life chances: “the chances an individual has for sharing in the socially created economic or cultural “goods” that typically exist in any given society.” (Breen, 1) The chances and that individuals have in gaining access to scarce and valued outcomes.(Weber 1978)
· “real groups” –the boundaries that define the groups have real micro-level effects on the life chances and experiences of individuals within the group
· Defining class- a) A class situation is one in which there is a shared typical probability in procuring goods, gaining a position in life, and finding inner satisfaction. b) the experiences that shape identities used by people to locate people within a system of economic stratification.
Theoretical Heritage:
Marx- Class as wealth­ –capital and labor power determine class in capitalist society
· Erik Olin Wright- Class defined not just as opportunities, but as conditions that tend to pit people against one another.
· John Goldthorpe
Durkheim- Class as occupational category (division of labor)
· Durkheim's division of labor is much more naturalized than Marx and proceeds from the concept that the division is an organic outgrowth of a society in which different people have different interests and skills.
· Grusky- class defined as highly disaggregated subjectively salient occupational groups
· Pakulski- limits term “class” to “big groups”
Weber- Class as life condition
o Includes skills as a distinct kind of resource that shapes market capacities and life chances in a market society
· Richard Breen- add to Weber’s analysis job specific attributes like authority and responsibility for technically complex tasks
· Goldthorpe
Bourdieu- In Bourdieu's analysis , life chances is central and historical variation and social emancipation issues are on the periphery. The crucial issues of class analysis are the interplay between the question of life chances and subjective identity.
o Financial assets, skills and knowledge, cultural capital. not just inclusive of the material standard of living in a narrow economic sense. Life chances are determined by the relationship to 3 forms of capital
· Weininger
· Sorensen- class determined by the ability to collect rents.
Class as defined by capacity to collect Rent- Sorensen

Class as sharing a common relationship to the means of production (marx)
· Major approaches to the question of class
· Class defined in terms of material standards of living, usually indexed by income or, possibly wealth.
o Class is a gradational and objective concept, and is the most popular conception of class, at least in the US and other places without a strong working- class political tradition.
§ Cons: doesn’t account for other objective conceptions of class, like citizenship, power,
Class defined as social categories that generate subjective-salient experiences which shape identities used by people to locate those categories within a system of economic stratification
o Because they’re subjective, the vary across time and place
§ These distinctions are not the same as gender, religion, or ethnicity, which are other subjective-salient forms of classification and may have economic dimensions but are not defined in economic terms.
Defining Class relationships
Class becomes relational (subjective) rather than gradational (objective) and is contrasted to other determinants of a person's life chances (geography, discrimination, genetics), when factoring in life chances.
· Marxists- capitalist societies would be characterized by recurring episodes of intense struggles generated by competing class interests, and there would be a tendency for these episodes to intensify over time.
· Bourdieu/Weininger- symbolic classifications and struggles over those classifications don’t all revolve around class only to the extent that they are linked to class based differences in life chances.
· Pakulski- subjective identity important- stable group identities formed around economic inequalities within markets and production.
· Sorensen- exploitation is the process by which rents are extracted. Also, conflicts of interests are not treated as contingent properties of class but are built into the structure of class relations.
· Weber- Weber also saw class conflict as a constant feature of capitalist societies, but rejects the claim that there is an inherent general tendency for calss relations to generate overt conflicts.
· Drawbacks of class as analysis tool for explaining inequalities
o Drawn from Jan Pakulski
§ People may more strongly classify themselves by other forms of identity other than occupation or economic wealth i.e national origin,
· The broad social categories that Marxists and Weberians identify as “classes” no longer constitute identities of coherent groups with real
· boundaries (Pakulski and Grusky)
· Arguments toward the declining relevance of class analysis
o Class theories fail the realist test since they’ve never been institutionalized outside of academia
o The site of production no longer generates well-organized classes that academics and others can easily discern, making a nominalist approach more susceptible to criticism.
Gender & Methodology
· Context Guideline: What is the historical, cultural, and geographic background context for the concept?
o Important because each new or revised concept is in contrast with existing literature. Its value is in its content but also the contrast it does or doesn’t make against a bkgrnd of research and theory
· Traveling guideline: does the concept travel well to other temporal or cultural arenas? (can it be applied elsewhere? Or is it limited by time and space?)
· Causal Relationship guideline: How do causal relationships work within and between concepts?
o How is the concept going to be used? As the independent or dependent variable? And how do they interact with theoretical concerns?
· Naming guideline: What is the accepted name of the concept? Why and how does it differ from others in its semantic field?
o Naming is important because it invokes the history and the usage of the concept. i.e. the differences btwn the words feminist, women, and gender.
o When developing new concepts there are 3 options (each with its own advantages and disadvantages):
1) Keep the name but change the substance
2) Choose a new name- it can either provide a clean slate without historical baggage (and can have huge payoffs), but the drawback is that the work may not connect to the larger research community
3) Hyphenate or “adjectivize” the concept-signals a link to a standard concept yet mentions a new aspect
· Negation guideline: what is the opposite of the concept you are trying to describe/define in research? Is the opposite of war non-war or peace?
· The positive pole is typically the phenomenon to be explained and the central empirical and theoretical focus of the analysis (26)
· Zones guideline: Is there a gray zone? Is it an ideal-type concept?
o Dichotomous concepts deny the existence of a gray zone.
o Continuous concept incorporate a gray zone and suggest that important phenomena occur in that area.
o Ideal type concepts imply that there are no empirical cases at the pole.
o The theoretical or conceptual questions is whether or not it makes sense for the concept in question to have a gray zone
o One empirical issue deals with the impact of the frequency of finding gray zone cases and whether or not it influences the concept itself (i.e. hard to imagine democratic transitions without acknowledging weakly democratic states (30)
· Dimensions guideline: What are the dimensions or defining characteristics of the concepts?
o You need to explicitly list defining characteristics
o Provide some theoretical or empirical rationale for the dimension’s importance
· Necessity guideline: Are any dimensions necessary?
o Classical view of concepts (all are necessary)- Concepts that are used to gather data employ necessary dimensions
o “family resemblance” view of concepts- various dimensions represent features of similarity. The more features present, the closer to the positive pole, the fewer, the closer to the negative pole (35) (common in quantitative measurement models)
§ family resemblance naturally yields a gray zone
· Interdependence guideline: What is the interdependence between dimensions?
o Interdependencies between dimensions often have a causal mechanism of some sort.
· Operationalization guidelines: How is the concept operationalized?
o Its better to focus on operationalizing the dimensions and not the overall concept. If indicators are gathered on the overall concept, its difficult to apply the necessity and interdependence guidelines
Gender & Development (CPE South)
§ the terminology/meaning you use determines how development plays out.
§ How to operationalize gendered concepts becomes a challenge especially when wanting to conduct large N studies.
§ Large cultural variation, even among countries in the same region may make applying measures and concepts across countries and regions difficult.