Concept of the Class-Stratification Studies and its Perspectives

Kenji Hashimoto*

*Corresponding author for this work

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Prevalence of discourses about the "Gap-widening society" is an important phenomenon for contemporary Japanese sociology, in so far as it has revealed the weakness and crisis of class studies and stratification studies. Current class and stratification studies cannot provide sharp and effective tools for understanding the widening economic disparities and so -called immobilization of unequal society. It means also current class and stratification studies cannot fulfill their central role to provide effective independent variables to other fields in sociology. Such a difficulties and stagnation have been brought by specific developmental process of class and stratification studies in post-war Japan. Class has be understood as certain political subject or pre-modern immobile groupings, in other hand social stratification has been understood as hierarchical continuum and can be operationalized artificially into some statistical categories. In this process, concepts of class and stratification have been regarded as conflicting viewpoints in sociology, and their validities and actualities have diminished to a large extent. In order to conquer such weakness and difficulty in class and stratification studies, we make two suggestions. (1) We need deny Marx's 2-class scheme explicitly and then adopt 4-class scheme of capitalist, new middle, working and old middle that is widely accepted in Europian sociology. (2)Social stratification can be understood as a system of social categories that is formed when class locations are mediated by some institutions such as industrial structures, labour market, family and the state. From this viewpoint, class and stratification are regarded not as antagonistic but as complementary to each other, and we can proceed to newly defined and fruitful field in sociology i.e. class-stratification studies. For one example, its application to 1965 SSM survey data is presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-22
Number of pages18
JournalSociological Theory and Methods
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Historical sociometrics
  • Japanese sociology
  • Social class
  • Social stratification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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