Beau Weston                                                                                       C447 (x8789)

Centre College                                     Class Culture                           Cafˇ hours daily

Fall 2007                                             (ANT/SOC 500)                     Phone: 238-7580 (h)






The Advanced Research Seminar in Class Culture has two objectives.   One is to understand the structure of social classes, the broad cultural divisions among them, and your place and responsibility within that structure. The other is to help you research and write a good sociological study within the broad topic of "class culture."


My model for the paper that you are trying to produce is the kind of article that appears in The Atlantic Monthly.  You should aim to take a complex subject that combines both theoretical and empirical material, and make it clear to an educated lay audience. 


Our seminar also aims to teach two skills to match its two objectives.  One skill is to communicate a complex idea, with opposing interpretations, in a form that any educated person can understand – and to reach a conclusion about the contested issue.  The other skill is to learn to deal with status anxiety, both your own and other peoples', a problem that is especially acute in our egalitarian and democratic society.




Rhonda Levine, ed., Social Class and Stratification, 2nd ed. (2006)

Paul Fussell, Class

Nelson Aldrich, Old Money

David Brooks, Bobos in Paradise

Elijah Anderson, The Code of the Street

Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction:  The Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste


Also Annette Lareau, "Invisible Inequality: Social Class and Childrearing in Black Families and White Families" 2002 will be available through WebCT.




Five main point outlines [30% of final grade]


You will extract three main points from the week's readings, plus make one critical point of your own.  Each point should be expressed in one sentence.  Print out your points (with your name on it) and bring it to class.  These will be the basis of our discussion.  I will then collect and grade them.


One of the five main point outlines will be due on 9/6.  You will each choose one of the chapters in Levine Part IV.


Another of the five will be due on 11/1 on the first selection from Distinction.


The other three you will choose at the beginning of the term (though you may swap with your classmates later if they are agreeable).


Major article [40%]


I want you to write an interesting critical treatment of some issue of class culture.  This paper could be mostly theoretical or mostly empirical, but it should include some elements of both.  The most common thing to do is to write an ethnographic account of some aspect of your own life and the life of people like you.  This is often very instructive to the writer.  I urge you, though, to consider other possibilities – theoretical issues, or large empirical questions, or ethnographic studies of people unlike you.  Any of these types of papers is fine.  You should have discussed what you want to write about with me in the summer, and have a very clear idea topic by the middle of September.  


We do not meet during Fall Break (10/11), nor on Writing Day a week after that (10/18).


A 90% complete draft is due Sunday, October 21.

I will read it and comment on it then.  You will think about it and tinker with it while we read the great hard book of the course, Pierre Bourdieu's Distinction. 


The final paper is due Sunday, November 25 (the Sunday after Thanksgiving).

Your papers will be our class reading for that week.


Actual Atlantic articles are written without footnotes.  The author finds some informative but unobtrusive way to cite sources and explain methods.  For academic completeness, though, I would like you also to submit an "academic appendix" with a description of the method of research you used and a full citation of sources.  The academic appendix will not appear in the magazine.


The article should be about 20 pages long.  It should be submitted in a two-column magazine format as a .pdf file.  If you are unsure what such an article should look and sound like, peruse the Atlantic Monthly.


At the end of the term we will make a magazine out of your papers. I will decide which will be the cover story, and which ones will get cover mention as well.  At the final seminar dinner at my house, we will unveil the cover and distribute the magazine.


Participation [30%]

This is a seminar – everyone has to contribute, or it won't work.  For the same reason, attendance is mandatory ("seminar is sacred.")  We will meet from 7 to 10 p.m. on Thursdays in Crounse 401, the "fishbowl" seminar room on the top floor.  We will sign up to bring food for a mid-seminar break.  I will bring something the first week.




In the summer you read parts I and II in the Levine reader.  These are the articles by Marx, Weber, Lloyd Warner et al., Davis and Moore, and Tumin.  We corresponded about what they meant, to make sure we were on the same page.


We also corresponded about a topic for your seminar article, so you could hit the ground running.  The seminar paper is due, essentially, seven weeks from the start of the term.


8/30     Levine Part III [Parkin, and E.O. Wright] (50 pp.)


9/6       Levine Part IV [Sex and race] (90)


9/13     Class, chs, 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9 (125)


9/20     Old Money, chs. 2, 3, 5, 6 (165)


9/27     Bobos in Paradise, chs, 1 – 3 (140)


10/4     Code of the Street, Introduction, chs. 1, 2, 7 (135)


10/11   No class (Fall Break)


10/18   No class (Writing Day).

10/21   90% draft of seminar paper due Sunday 11 p.m. via WebCT


10/25   Annette Lareau, "Invisible Inequality: Social Class and Childrearing in Black Families and White Families" 2002 (30)


11/1     Distinction, Introduction, chs. 1, 2 (170)


11/8     Distinction, chs. 3, 4 (90)


11/15   Distinction, chs. 5, Conclusion (80)


11/22  No class (Thanksgiving)


11/29   Student Articles

Submit your article in .pdf form to me by 11 p.m. Sunday, November 25.  I will post them on WebCT for the class.  Read all the other papers by the seminar meeting on Thursday.  Each author will have 5 minutes to make one point at the beginning of class; then we will have general discussion of all the papers. 


12/6     Dinner and a Magazine

Dinner at my house, 143 St. Mildred's Court, at 6, followed by the unveiling and distribution of the magazine.  We will have a concluding discussion.  Done about 7:30.