9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS13 Re-Assessing Class in Contemporary Sociology

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Class After Communism: Inequalities and Lifestyles in East European Societies Building I, 1E11

Post-communist Social Structure: The Case of Romania

There are several concepts that apparently express different forms of social stratification: social class (Bourdieu, 1984; Erickson and Goldthorpe, 1992; Giddens, 2001; 2007 etc.), occupational status friendship (Chan and Goldthorpe, 2007), social position (Nicolas, 1996; Beck and Beck-Gemsheim, 2002; Beck, 2007 etc.), lifestyle (Kirby, 1999; Ken, 2006; Paterson, 2006; Featherstone, 2007 etc.). These concepts emphasize the shift from the social hierarchy mostly generated by the possessed inherited material resources, to the positioning in a dynamic social space in which the social mobility is primarily determined by the characteristics and the preferences of the individuals. So, which is the most appropriate way of using these concepts, as opposed one another or complementary?

I believe that these concepts are complementary and reflect different aspects of the same reality: material stratification (social class), symbolic stratification (occupational status friendship) and cultural stratification (lifestyle). All these put the individual in a social position from which he/she can migrate along his life in accordance with its characteristics and preferences. Social positions or social classes have new forms (Giddens, 2007). Still, the social mobility is influenced by the life chances that individual has, by the material, cultural and symbolic resources that he/she can access.

In the case of Romania, I expect to find, in the big cities that are highly developed, where the social and cultural diversity is high, a diversity of social positions with the hierarchies between them being rather diffuse. On the other hand, in the small and the undeveloped cities and the rural area, I expect to find few social positions with the hierarchies between them being rather obvious. The social stratification schemas (CASMIN etc.) used in developed countries should be adapted to the East European post-communist reality.

Using large scale datasets and multilevel regression analysis, besides cluster and latent class analysis, I will test this hypothesis. Implicitly, I will test the validity of the classical social stratification schemas in the case of Romania.