The concept of class: A multilevel approach

Mladen Lazic


Most controversy that arises around the concept of class is a consequence of the fact that protagonists do not differentiate the level of abstraction at which the discussions take place. Namely, the definition of the concept of class essentially depends on the analytical level at which social phenomena are analyzed. Therefore, it must be defined differently at different analytical levels. It is necessary to distinguish at least four such levels in societal analyses: social formation, historical system, concrete-historical society, and the reproduction of everyday life. At the most general level (capitalism, for example,) classes are established on the basis of the control of overall social resources, and their relations thus appear as antagonistic (dichotomous model). At the historical system level, the totality of control branches into domination over economic, organizational, and cultural resources, and the unified body of class is broken up into strata, including also some differentiation of intraclass interests. At the level of concrete-historical society, further intra- and inter-class differentiation develops, and classes appear as internally divided and potentially conflicted entities. At the level of everyday life, the central subject of research is individuals, whose class membership must be analytically reconstructed, which is the field of operation of empirical sociology.


Social class, analytical levels: social formation, historical system, concrete society, everyday life

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ISSN: 2062-087X

DOI: 10.14267/issn.2062-087X