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Status

1989
Author:

Bryan S. Turner

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Clarifies the concept of status from the thesis that economic, political, and cultural inequalities can only be understood from a conflict-sociology perspective.

Clarifies the concept of status from the thesis that economic, political, and cultural inequalities can only be understood from a conflict-sociology perspective.

Although status is an essential concept in classical sociology and a crucial feature of social structure, it has been much criticized in contemporary social theory and to some extent replaced by a Marxist concept of economic class. In this book, Bryan Turner argues that social stratification has three major components: politico-legal rights (status as entitlement), cultural distinction (status as life-style) and economic class. The relationships between these elements are historically contingent and determined by social struggles over resources. He examines the historical variations between these dimensions in slavery, feudalism and capitalism, and argues that in contemporary society the decline of economic class and the struggle between status groups over welfare resources have given rise to a new form of political life: status bloc politics under the administration of the state. His analysis of status concludes with an examination of the effects of mass consumption on cultural distinction and a consideration of the implications of cultural postmodernism for the traditional struggle between high and low culture. His main thesis is that economic, political and cultural inequalities can only be understood from a conflict-sociology perspective.

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Bryan S. Turner was Professor of Sociology at the Flinders University of South Australia and Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the University of Bielefeld. He is currently Professor of Social Science (with special reference to questions of social transformation) at the State University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. His previous publications on related topics include Citizenship and Capitalism (1986) and Equality (1986). He has co-authored a number of other publications including (with N. Abercrombie and S. Hill) the influential The Dominant Ideology Thesis (1980).

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