SOS9233 - New Directions in Research on Social Class

Course content

Social inequality currently gets a lot of attention, but sociologists appear less visible in discussions about inequality than what one would expect. Has this something to do with the understanding of class or the use of the class concept in research? Can the sociological research on this topic be improved? What is the contribution of sociology, or more specifically sociological class theory, for understanding inequality trends as well as changes, tensions, and political events in a number of countries?  The course brings together scholars representing different perspectives in class analysis, in order to achieve discussions across the boundaries of these different approaches.

Learning outcome

After the course the participants will

  • Understand major positions in recent contributions to class theory
  • Be able to link these positions to approaches to class in the sociological tradition
  • Have acquired knowledge about the relevance and variations in the meaning and importance of class across countries
  • Understand differences between micro- and macro level approaches to class theory, and consequences of using these approaches in research
  • Have developed ideas about how the class concept can be used in research in urban settings, and in studies of symbolic boundaries
  • Understand how the concept of class can be used in their individual projects


Ph.D.-students at the Department of Sociology and Human Geography register for the course in Studentweb.

Participants outside the Department of Sociology and Human Geography shall fill out this application form.

The application deadline is 1st September 2017.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

No requirements other than that the students have to be enrolled in a doctoral program.


The course is arranged by Marianne Nordli Hansen, Professor of Sociology, University of Oslo, and Johannes Hjellbrekke, Professor of Sociology, University of Bergen.  A number of prominent researchers contribute to the program (see the course schedule).

The course is going to be hold in Paris. Meet up at: Centre Universitaire de Norvège à Paris, CUNP Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, FMSH 54, Boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris.

All titles are preliminary and must be confirmed upon confirmation of participation.



Oct. 18th, EHES, Salle A-BS1-28: Class Analysis Revitalized.

Opening lecture:

10.00 - 10.10: Welcome and Introduction.  Prof. Marianne Nordli Hansen, UiO.

10.10-10.30: The Norwegian University Center in Paris.  Director, CUNP, Johs. Hjellbrekke

10.30-11.15: Prof. Mike Savage, LSE: Social Class in the 21st Century. 

11.15 - 11.45: Comments and Questions

11.45-13.00: Lunch.

13.00-13.30: Social class and Social Closure.  Prof. Marianne Nordli Hansen, UiO

13.30-13.45: Comments and Questions

13.45-14.15: Johs. Hjellbrekke, CUNP/FMSH:   Social Class and Social Capital.

14.15 – 14.30: Comments and Questions.  

14.30 – 15.00: TBA. Post. doc. Magne Flemmen, UiO

15.00-15.15: Comments and Questions.  

15.15-15.30: Break

15.30-17.00: Paper Session 1

17.00-17.15:  Break

17.15-18.15: Paper Session 2


Oct. 19th, EHES, Salle 33: Class, Culture and Social Closure

10.00-10.45: Philippe Coulangeon, Sciences Po: Social Class and Cultural Distinctions

10.45-11.15: Comments and Questions

11.15-11.45: Vegard Jarness: Social Class and Symbolic Boundaries.

11.45-12.00: Comments and Questions

12.00-13.15: Lunch

13.15-13.45: Jørn Ljunggren: Urban Segregation in a Nordic Capital

13.45-14.00: Comments and Questions

14.00-14.45: Marco Oberti, Sciences Po : The Urban Sociology of Social Class

14.45-15.15: Break

15.30-17.00: Paper Session 1

17.00-17.15: Break

17.15-18.15: Paper session 2


Oct. 20th, EHES, Salle A-BS1-28: Competing Approaches

10.00-10.45: Prof. Jan O. Jonsson. Univ of Stockholm/Oxford University Micro- vs. macro class approaches?

10.45-11.15: Comments and Questions

11.15-12.00: Daniel Oesch, Univ. of Lausanne. Horizontal and Vertical Class Divisions and Hierarchies.  An Alternative Class Model.

12.00-12.30: Comments and Questions

12.30-13.00: Concluding discussion

13.00-14.00 Lunch


Reading list

Andersen, Patrick Lie & Hansen, Marianne Nordli (2012). Class and Cultural Capital-The Case of Class Inequality in Educational Performance . European Sociological Review.  ISSN 0266-7215.  28(5), s 607- 621 . doi: 10.1093/esr/jcr029

COULANGEON P., LEMEL Y., “Is ‘distinction’ really outdated? Questioning the meaning of the omnivorization of musical taste in contemporary France”, Poetics, Volume 35, Issues 2-3, April-June 2007, pp. 93-111

Coulangeon, P. “Changing policies, challenging theories and persisting inequalities: Social disparities in cultural participation in France from 1981 to 2008”. Poetics, 41(2), 177-209, 2013

Coulangeon, P. “Cultural Openness as an Emerging Form of Cultural Capital in Contemporary France”, Cultural Sociology, 11(2), 145-164, 2017.

Flemmen, M.P., Toft. M., Andersen. P.L., Hansen. M.N.. and Ljunggren, J. (2017), Forms of Capital and Modes of Closure in Upper Class Reproduction, Sociology,
Flemmen, M. The Politics of the Service Class (2014), The homology of positions
and position-takings, European Societies,
Flemmen, M,  (2013), Putting Bourdieu to work for class analysis: reflections on
some recent contributions, British Journal of Sociology,

Hansen, Marianne Nordli (2014). Self-made wealth or family wealth? Changes in intergenerational wealth mobility. Social Forces.  ISSN 0037-7732.  93(2), s 457- 481 . doi: 10.1093/sf/sou078

Jarness, V. (2017). Viewpoints and points of view: Situating symbolic boundaries in social space. European  Societies, published online before print. DOI:

Jarness, V. (2017). Cultural vs economic capital: Symbolic boundaries within the middle class. Sociology, 51(2), 357-373.

Jarness, V., & Friedman, S. (2017). 'I'm not a snob, but...': Class boundaries and the downplaying of difference. Poetics, 61, 14-25.

Jonsson, Grusky et al 2009: Microclass mobility

2009, Jan O. Jonsson, David B. Grusky, Matthew Di Carlo, Reinhard Pollak, and Mary C. Brinton “Micro-Class Mobility. Social Reproduction in Four Countries.” American Journal of Sociology 114: 977-1036.

Lamont, M. (1992). Money, morals, and manners: The culture of the French and American upper-middle class. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Chapter 1, 7 and Appendices I and IV).

Lamont, M., & Molnar, V. (2002). The study of boundaries in the social sciences. Annual Review of Sociology, 28, 167-195.

Ljunggren, Jørn & Andersen, Patrick Lie (2015). Vertical and Horizontal Segregation: Spatial Class Divisions in Oslo, 1970–2003. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.  ISSN 0309-1317.  39(2), s 305- 322 . doi: 10.1111/1468-2427.12167
Mood, C. (2017) More than Money: Social Class, Income, and the Intergenerational Persistence of Advantage, Sociological Science.

Mood, Jonsson, Bihagen (2012),  Cognitive and noncognitive processes

2012, Carina Mood, Jan O. Jonsson, and Erik Bihagen. “Socioeconomic Persistence across Generations: Cognitive and Noncognitive Processes.” Chapter 3, pp. 53-83, in John Ermisch, Markus Jäntti, and Timothy Smeeding (eds.),From Parents to Children. The Intergenerational Transmission of Advantage. New York: Russell Sage.    

Oberti, Marco (2007). « Social and School differentiation in urban space: inequalities and local configurations », Environment and Planning, volume 39, p. 208-227.

Oberti, Marco (2008). “The French Republican Model of Integration: the Theory of Cohesion and the Practice of Exclusion. New Directions for Youth Development: Theory, Practice, Research, Jossey-Bass Publishing (JBP),USA, Fall, p. 55-74.

Oesch , D. (2006), “Coming to grips with a changing class structure. An analysis of employment stratification in Britain, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland”, International Sociology 21 (2): 263-288.

Oesch, D. (2012), “The Class Basis of the Cleavage between the New Left and the Radical Right: an analysis for Austria, Denmark, Norway and Switzerland”, in: Rydren, J. (ed.) Class Politics and the Radical Right, London: Routledge, 31-51.

Oesch, D. (2015), “Welfare regimes and change in the employment structure: Britain, Denmark and Germany since 1990”, Journal of European Social Policy 25 (1): 94-110

Savage, Mike (2014). Piketty’s challenge for sociology. British Journal of Sociology, 2014, Vol. 65, nr. 4, pp. 591-606. 

Savage, Mike (2015). Social Class in the 21st. Century. Penguin. Chapter 4.  

Savage, Mike (2016). “The fall and rise of class analysis in British sociology, 1950-2016.” LSE Research Online.

Toft, Maren & Ljunggren, Jørn (2016). Geographies of class advantage: The influence of adolescent neighbourhoods in Oslo. Urban Studies.  ISSN 0042-0980.  53(14), s 2939- 2955 . doi: 10.1177/0042098015601770


Each participant is requested to submit a 200 word project description i) outlining their interest in the course ii) describing their own research. This need to be submitted two weeks before the start of the course, 4th October to

The entire five-day event makes up the Ph.D.-course, with the equivalent of 6 credits (theory-credits for Ph.D.-students at the Department of Sociology and Human Geography). For approval, this includes writing a paper of minimum 4 000 words to be submitted by 10th Desember 2017. The paper will deal with some theme in the curriculum. The paper is to be sent to

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a pass/fail scale. Read more about the grading system.

Facts about this course






Autumn 2017

18-20th October 2017


Autumn 2017

Teaching language