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Do we see class membership and how?


Pape, S; Rössel, J; Solga, H (2012). Do we see class membership and how? Poetics, 40(4):317-336.

Abstract

Empirical studies show that social class still shapes the life chances of individuals, their lifestyles and social behaviour. Our study builds on existing research and deals with the question of how individuals perceive the class affiliation of others. Based on Bourdieu's class theory and on research on classification and stereotypes in social psychology, an experimental study has been conducted. We investigated whether participants in our study were able to relate bridal couples on photographs to their class positions. We analysed, first, whether subjects were able to assign others to social classes solely based on visual information; second, which criteria they used to perform this classification; and finally, whether test persons were aware of the most important classification criteria they used. Our findings show that the bridal couples were assigned to the correct social class in a clearly above random manner and that participants’ decisions were strongly influenced by characteristics such as the couple's age, subjectively perceived intelligence, attractiveness and lifestyles.

Abstract

Empirical studies show that social class still shapes the life chances of individuals, their lifestyles and social behaviour. Our study builds on existing research and deals with the question of how individuals perceive the class affiliation of others. Based on Bourdieu's class theory and on research on classification and stereotypes in social psychology, an experimental study has been conducted. We investigated whether participants in our study were able to relate bridal couples on photographs to their class positions. We analysed, first, whether subjects were able to assign others to social classes solely based on visual information; second, which criteria they used to perform this classification; and finally, whether test persons were aware of the most important classification criteria they used. Our findings show that the bridal couples were assigned to the correct social class in a clearly above random manner and that participants’ decisions were strongly influenced by characteristics such as the couple's age, subjectively perceived intelligence, attractiveness and lifestyles.

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Citations

3 citations in Web of Science®
5 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Sociology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:02 Jul 2012 11:17
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 14:31
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0304-422X
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.poetic.2012.05.002

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