New crises can encourage us to look at old ideas. This panel looks at class, thought to be old-fashioned and tainted with failed marxist dreams. It will consider class as an aspect of social life, as a methodological statement and as a source of insight into anthropology.
In considering the current crisis, we should not forget that much of Europe was in crisis in the first half of the 1800s. One response to that crisis was a political-economic understanding of society as made up of classes, an understanding derided and forgotten in the last quarter of the twentieth century. The results have been unfortunate for anthropology, for understanding society and for people's lives. It is time to reconsider that forgotten response. This panel will do so in three ways. Firstly, it will consider what 'class' means, both analytically and empirically. Secondly, it will consider how class affects people's lives. Thirdly, it will consider the implications of the concept for how anthropologists think about their object of study and the discipline. The result will be a consideration not just of the significance of class in the world, but also of the place of class in anthropology.