The Stratification and Culture network was formed by Sam Friedman, Laurie Hanquinet, Andrew Miles and Mike Savage in May 2013. We are a British based collective committed to exploring the interplay between social inequalities and cultural forms. We start from a refusal to reduce cultural life to social determinants and to embrace the role of the aesthetic within social scientific analysis. We are steeped in the sociological analysis of class and stratification and fascinated by the complex ways in which the aesthetic connect with mundane, as well as spectacular, processes of cultural inclusion and exclusion. The intersections between class, gender, ethnicity, age and location are fundamental to our interests.
Our work has been influential across the globe in developing challenging – and sometime controversial – accounts of new patterns of stratification. We played an important role in the BBC’s Great British Class Survey which has become the most widely publicised study of its kind anywhere in the world. We have published our work in major international journal.
Intellectually, we are all indebted to Pierre Bourdieu’s fundamental contribution to analysing culture and stratification. Our work bears the mark of his insistence that we cannot grant an artistic autonomy to the cultural world even though it operates with its own rules and rhythms. Yet we all think that Bourdieu’s thinking needs renewal and extension to deal with the proliferation and hybridity of cultural forms in a digital, multi-cultural, global and cosmopolitan environment. We also believe in taking academic research into the cultural sector and learning from practitioners, participants and enthusiasts.
We are passionate believers in the need for rigorous and innovative modes of empirical research. We want to think beyond traditional methodological dichotomies which pit quantitative against qualitative methods. We are excited about the potential of working with methods such as multiple correspondence analysis and social network analysis. We are excited by the potential to use digital data. An appreciation of long term historical trends is central to our concerns to refuse simplistic epochal accounts of change, and to insist on placing current analysis within the context of long term patterns.
We deliberately straddle different Universities and are committed to building an international network which is open to researchers everywhere, regardless of institutional affiliation. We are currently working in the London School of Economics, the University of York and the University of Manchester.