`This book...is brilliant. Formations of Class and Gender
is a sophisticated and passionately written account of the classed and gendered identities of a small group of working-class white women who live in the north-west of England. It is ethnography at its best, having been built on long-term, thoughtful engagements in the field. When Beverly Skeggs met these women they were all students on a variety of `Caring' courses at a further education college. More than eleven years later, the production of this text testifies to the quality of theoretical analysis which can be produced if only those who fund research or press for lists of publications were willing to acknowledge that leading edge work normally requires real time. The text is concerned with the production of cultural and social relations and is located within an analytical framework which draws on the work of Bourdieu....Overall the text is a robust piece of writing which I have already recommended as required reading to my research students' - Gender and Education
`Skegg's Bourdieu-influenced account of British cultures of class provides a useful empirical corrective to the more grandiose theorizing within recent cultural studies, underscoring not just the economic but the cultural and attitudinal gulf between working-class individuals and the left/feminist intellectuals who claim to be their allies. For this reason alone, it should be required reading' - International Journal of Cultural Studies
`In a discipline that boasts a high division of labour, this book goes a long way in dismantling the futile divide between class theory and feminism. It is an articulate and impassioned ethnography, fuelled by an anger of inequality but also an anger at those who are reluctant to challenge it. At a time when sociologists seem less concerned with the tangible and more interested in the abstract, Skeggs shows how these can be used productively together; theory becomes a means to an end rather than an end in itself.... This book really deserves to be read and taken seriously. It is a good example of responsible research which seeks to bring out the pains and humour of working- class life and the ways in which people negotiate their environments.... But the greatest achievement of this book is that it gives a voice to a group of women in the hope that they can `...no longer be ignored, made invisible, deconstructed to irrelevance, dismissed as part of a redundant concept, or pathologized as just another "social problem"' (168). In our present political climate, what work could be more important than that?' - Paul Johnson, University of Durham
`Beverly Skeggs began this "modernist ethnograpy" in 1983 whilst teaching on social care courses in further education. She interviewed 83 white working class women in her classes and then interviewed the majority again in 1988 and 1992, thus providing us with a rare and extremely valuable qualitative longitudinal study. Over the twelve-year period she traces their developing and changing identities, beginning with their student lives, as low-achieving social care students, and following them into jobs, romance, families, motherhood and divorce. The ways in which her correspondents defined their own class position, their femininity and heterosexuality and understood their own place in the caring professions is presented in considerable detail...unusual and stimulating' - Women's Studies Network (UK) Association Newsletter
`Formations of Class and Gender should have a place equivalent to that occupied by Paul Willis's Learning to Labour' - Caroline Ramazanoglu, Goldsmiths College, University of London
About the Author
I worked at the Worcester College of Higher Education and the Universities of Keele, York, Lancaster and Manchester before joining the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths. I’ve worked in the areas of Women’s Studies and Cultural Studies as well as Sociology. My research interests consolidate around the issue of value: what is it? How do we recognize it? What does it do? I only realized this recently when I was asked to summarise my work. Hence value has led me through issues of class and gender formation, an exploration of symbolic value through media and cultural formations, into feminist and poststructuralist theory, Pierre Bourdieu and to the economic abstractions of Marx, to help me understand. I’m still working on it, currently attempting to understand how value moves on, through and with people as they live the imperatives of exchange in capitalism. In July 2011 I become the joint managing editor of the journal Sociological Review, a major journal which has just celebrated 100 years of shaping the field. I’m incredibly proud to make a small intervention into its illustrious history.