Edited by Yaojun Li
Chapter 2: Social stratification, social capital and cultural practice in the UK
Over the past few decades there has been increasing examination of the role of social and cultural processes in the generation of social inequalities (Bennett et al., 2009; Le Roux et al., 2008; Li et al., 2008). The dominant view at the end of the twentieth century was that in contemporary post-industrial Western societies the effects of class on socio-cultural practices and identities had faded. The grounds for such conclusions were various, including individualization, post-industrial occupational transition, the emergence of new forms of social engagement, and the reworking of cultural identities and transformation of the cultural landscape. Nevertheless, qualitative investigations continued to throw up evidence of powerful class differences in cultural practices (Skeggs, 1997; Charlesworth, 2000; Savage et al., 2001, 2005). These results were not, however, replicated in analysis of large-scale survey data which, while tending to unearth the apparently benign phenomenon of cultural omnivorousness, found this to be strongly associated with education, not with class (Chan and Goldthorpe, 2007). There has also been much research in social capital, especially in the last two decades, showing considerable class effects (Hall, 1999; Li et al., 2003, 2005, 2008). But there has been little research linking class, social capital and cultural practice. In this analysis we seek to make a contribution to this by providing evidence of a close relationship between social and cultural capital, both underpinned by processes of social stratification as indicated by people’s social mobility trajectories.
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