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Class Is a Verb: Lived Encounters of a Minority Ethnic Academic Who Self-Identifies With Aspects of Working-Class Cultures in the United Kingdom

Stephen Wong (University of East London, UK)

The Lives of Working Class Academics

ISBN: 978-1-80117-058-1, eISBN: 978-1-80117-057-4

Publication date: 12 December 2022

Abstract

This chapter makes the assertion that social class is a verb, which is to say, an individual's class identifications are not fixed and ascribed at birth but must be understood as something that is practised and lived. In an era in which hyper mobility is the norm among a growing segment of the global population, social class identifications are increasingly fluid, context-dependent and could only be understood in relation to ‘other’ social class categories. By taking a discourse analytic approach to closely look at the episodes of my interactions with a range of interlocutors in my biographical trajectory across multiple contexts, this chapter provides accounts of the complexities of my class identifications as an academic in the UK higher education (HE) sector. Following Marxist scholarship in general, this linguistic autoethnography shows how class is not depicted as an attribute of people that is stationary in contemporary stratified societies. It argues that class must be understood as a social relation, as evolving in the social interactions with human subjects and the cumulative relationships that people engaged with, all arising out of the economic order in societies. Second, the interactional episodes highlighted in this chapter also shows how social class is interconnected with other identity inscriptions, such as gender, ethnicity, race and nationality. As such, this chapter shows how the nature of social class identifications in contemporary times are impacted by an individual's alignments with a range of social categories.

Keywords

Citation

Wong, S. (2022), "Class Is a Verb: Lived Encounters of a Minority Ethnic Academic Who Self-Identifies With Aspects of Working-Class Cultures in the United Kingdom", Reilly, I.B. (Ed.) The Lives of Working Class Academics, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 155-171. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-80117-057-420221011

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023 Stephen Wong. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited