John Goldthorpe

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John Harry Goldthorpe FBA (born 27 May 1935) is a British sociologist working at the Department of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford as well as being an emeritus Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford.[1] He works in the areas of social stratification, macrosociology, and recently cultural consumption. He has made important contributions to the practical application of sociological Rational Choice Theory. He was editor of Sociology 1970-1973.

He was a student of David Glass at the London School of Economics.

Early life[edit]

Goldthorpe was born in Great Houghton, West Riding of Yorkshire; his father was a colliery clerk. He was educated at Wath-upon-Dearne Grammar School, University College, London and the London School of Economics.[2]


His work on social class led to the well-established Goldthorpe class schema, one of the standard approaches to classify class in sociology. The Goldthorpe class schema is based on eleven classes, which are grouped into three main clusters—the service class (or salariat), the intermediate class, and the working class.

Goldthorpe has contributed to the understanding of social mobility. Goldthorpe is also well known for his work on the embourgeoisement thesis which he dispelled in 1963.

He is also known for his vocal critiques of the concepts of 'cultural capital' and 'habitus', as initially formulated by Pierre Bourdieu, which Goldthorpe argues are ill informed, both empirically and theoretically.[3]

He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1984. He is also a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences since 2001.[4]



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  2. ^ Goodhart, David (July 26, 2009). "They’re wrong – social mobility is not going downhill". The Sunday Times. 
  3. ^ John H. Goldthorpe (2/2007). "“Cultural Capital”: Some Critical Observations". Sociologica (Italian Journal of Sociology on line). doi:10.2383/24755.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. ^ "The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences: John H. Goldthorpe". Retrieved 2009-05-01. [dead link]