Is A Classless Society, Author Contends
13, 2001-- Are there social classes in America? In
a new book, "The Classless Society," University of Virginia
sociologist Paul Kingston forcefully answers no.
by Stanford University Press, the book challenges a long-standing
intellectual tradition of class analysis and calls for a new, more
complex understanding of social divisions.
an associate professor of sociology, argues that members of presumed
classes do not significantly share distinct, life-defining experiences
and, therefore, cannot be viewed in any meaningful ways as classes,
the way they might inform some other societies.
examines five dimensions of life, including social mobility, interaction
patterns, cultural orientation, class sentiment and political orientations
and contends that the case for a class society "is weak in
light of the fact that members of all presumed classes
have diverse family backgrounds and that friendship patterns commonly
cross class lines."
Kingston readily acknowledges that economic inequalities persist
in America, such realities do not mean that distinct groups, or
classes, exist, he says. "For the most part, groups of people
having a common economic position do not share distinct, life-defining
experiences," he writes.
approaches this contentious issue by first discussing the question,
"How would you recognize a class if you saw one?" He then
presents a detailed, wide-ranging synthesis of contemporary research
so that readers can assess the evidence that leads to the books
Ida Lee Wootten, (804) 924-6857