Quantifying social class: A latent clustering approach

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


Bourdieu offers a model of social class that emphasizes class boundaries as the product of classification struggles within the various fields that comprise social space. The set of relations that define a particular field influence which social, economic and cultural resources are important in sorting individuals into class categories. Unfortunately, quantitative research has underappreciated the role of social class to Bourdieu's broader theory. In this chapter, I present results from latent clustering analysis (LCA) of student background characteristics to describe the underlying class structure of an elite academic field: American selective colleges and universities. LCA allows consideration of Bourdieu's multidimensional view of social class, and can be particularly useful for distinguishing groups within the broad dominant and lower classes. Additionally, LCA provides a test of Bourdieu's contention that the objective foundation to social class can be mapped along economic and cultural axes. After considering how social class influences academic achievement and post-graduation plans, I discuss the broader implications of class background to Bourdieu's theory of social and cultural reproduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationQuantifying Theory
Subtitle of host publicationPierre Bourdieu
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9781402094491
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


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