full length of man sitting outdoors

There is perhaps no stronger example of socialisation than societal class structures. While class structures can vary, based on cultural, political, ideological, and social factors – the systems that make up these divisions can be identified in our class performances. It could even be argued that our resistance to socialised class identities in itself is a performance of sorts.

If mass mainstream media is to be considered as a depiction of the social psyche, than in a UK context, binary narratives of working class activism in response to an oppressive  bourgeousie can be identified in caricatured media representations such as the ITV’s Downton Abbey (2010 – 2015) and in nuanced depictions of class and politics in serials such as in the BBC’s Our Friends in the North (1996).

While the structuralisation of social class has been widely discussed in broader literature, see;  Marx, Gramsci, Foucault, and Bourdieu, The social performance of these identities still remains an area that is largely under discussed.

Questions such as:

  • What factors assist us in formulating our class identities and how do these influence the way we function and perform our social selves in society?
  • How does social mobility factor in to our initial social identity formations? For instance, do our class identities evolve as we become socially mobile? – or do we remain ideologically connected to our initial class identities?
  • Do we have conscious control over every aspect of our performance of class? Or are we in a dichotimous internal struggle between conscious and subconscious identity formations and performances?

Such questions prompt us to consider the role we play in challenging or reinforcing class structures on an individual level. By deconstructing these ideas, and linking these questions of self and the individual to broader cultural and social discourse, it is possible to develop insights in to how class may impact our individual identity formation.

In the forthcoming months, this network aims to extend discourse into these areas of focus through a series of events and posts that look at the performance of class in societal and media contexts.