Economic inequality and social class -PhD thesis-

Publication type

Thesis/Degree/Other Honours


Publication date

June 1, 2014


This thesis is about social class and economic inequality, using the
Goldthorpe class schema. It tests theories claiming that social class is
increasingly irrelevant to inequality and people's life-chances with
data on incomes and material living standards from the British Household
Panel Survey. It covers the period over which the survey ran, i.e.
1991-2008. During this time many prominent social theories dismissed
class analyses while others sought to retain the class concept but
dismissed its economic foundations, seeking to ground it in culture
instead. Economic inequality has not figured highly on the agenda of
class analysts, at least not those working with the Goldthorpe class
schema. There is a substantial body of work on mobility, voting
behaviour, income poverty and material deprivation, but inequality in a
broader sense has for the most part been neglected. This thesis is a
step towards rectifying this situation. Thus it provides new information
about within-career social mobility as well as income inequality within
and between classes, on whether income mobility reduces class
inequalities over time, and cast light on class inequalities in material
living standards. The findings suggest that class is far from
irrelevant to economic inequality. Class differences in incomes are
persistent, between class inequalities contribute more to inequality
overall than within-class inequalities, and while income mobility does
reduce class inequalities over time it is not to the extent that
supports the hypothesis that class is irrelevant to people's economic





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