GBCS: An answer in search of a question

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In this response to ‘A new model of social class?’ by Savage et al. (2013), I take issue with their claim of carrying out an inductive, data-driven approach to the construction of a new class scheme. They emphasize that theirs is not just another occupational- or employment-based class schema. Rather, their objective is to illustrate how cultural and social boundaries are drawn up. Their class classification is multi-dimensional, with the combination of economic, social, and cultural capitals to delineate distinctive class boundaries. My main concerns fall into three areas: (1) what are the problems of their proposed inductive approach? Can we draw up class boundaries without going back to a political economy analysis of contemporary capitalism? (2) How successful have they been in introducing new social classes to their classification of class? Do their descriptions of the seven classes in their class scheme add up in ways that present us with a sociologically meaningful analysis of a class structure of contemporary Britain? (3) And, finally, how useful is their framework for conducting comparative class analysis? Drawing upon the case of contemporary China, it is suggested that it is important to recognize that the effects of social and cultural capitals vary, both quantitatively and qualitatively, according to the wider institutional environment. In each of the above areas, the approach suggested by Savage et al. is found short of fully satisfactory answers. Copyright © 2015 The Author.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)480-492
JournalThe Sociological Review
Issue number2
Early online dateMay 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


Lui, T.-l. (2015). GBCS: An answer in search of a question. The Sociological Review, 63(2), 480-492.


  • An inductive approach
  • Class boundary
  • Class formation
  • Financialization
  • Deductive reasoning
  • Institutional context


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