Postmodernism and Stratification

Grusky (1996) – postmodernist argue that there has been a decline in class-based identities, as conflict in the workplace has diminished, and that cultural globalisation has allowed people to sample different cultures and ideas. ‘life choice’.

Strinati (1995) – is concerned with the image people project through the choices they make as consumers. They speak of pick ‘n’ mix identity in which the individual decides which aspects of culture s/he wishes to choose to utilise. Consumer choice, it is suggested, has now over-ridden the old divisions based on gender, ethnicity and class.

Waters suggests that, as a result, postmodern stratification and inequality are about lifestyle choices, fragmented association. We are seduced into conspicuous consumption by advertising.

Pakulski and Waters (1996) argue that social class is becoming increasingly insignificant because class groups are not evident anymore.  Individualism is now paramount and stratification is based on lifestyles, and social inequality is based on factors other than social class. We now have multifaceted identities and people are able to redefine themselves by changing consumption patterns.  Reasons for this change have resulted from wealth becoming more progressively more equally distributed and, because of the growth in education; there is now what they call a ‘market meritocracy’, based on an ability to buy a consumer identity.

AO3 Criticisms

Bottero (2005) has argued that postmodernism ignores the very real constraints on behaviour caused by the inequalities in wealth, income and education, not to mention the constraints of gender, ethnicity and disability, therefore questions the power that individuals have to create their own self-image.

Skeggs (1997) argues that postmodernist sociologists are largely middle-class professionals who underestimate the experience of working-class people and therefore fail to see the importance of class to those whose lived experience is strongly influenced by their class positon.

Westergaard (1995) also criticised postmodernist ideas for failing to recognise that differences in social class are still relevant.  Life chances and living standards differ significantly between the rich and poor in modern society, therefore social class continues to be a meaningful measure of stratification for large section of society.

Cooley (1902) thought the view of ourselves was formed not by the social structure, but through the responses of other people reflecting back to us in the other course of interaction – the image we portray needs to be plausible. Therefore, individuals do not have sole power to shape their identity because it depends how others view them (looking glass self)