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Working Paper: How Class Works in Popular Conception
Americans’ answers to questions about their social class show (1) awareness that class is an important aspect of American life and (2) reasonable patterns of strong association between subjective class identification and objective criteria like income, occupation, and education. Multivariate analysis of those responses shows that (3) class ambivalence and ambiguity is an issue for Americans whose jobs and incomes are inconsistent with their educations but (4) little evidence that other identities compete with objective class in forming class identities and (5) none of the trends that postclass theories suggest. Finally, subjective class identification correlates with a number of political attitudes and lifestyle indicators in ways that are consistent with canonical ideas about how class works.

This is a revision a paper presented at the conference “Social Class: How Does It Work?” held at New York University, 21-22 April 2006, sponsored by New York University and the Russell Sage Foundation. Thanks to Neil Fligstein, Michele Lamont, Annette Lareau, Jeff Manza, Erik Olin Wright, and two anonymous referees for their comments. Neither funders nor colleagues are responsible for the conclusions, opinions, or errors in this final version.


Publication file

/rsfcensus/papers/Hout-ClassIDJan07.pdf

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