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Computational Perspectives on Class Distinction-Making through Etiquette

Computational Perspectives on Class Distinction-Making through Etiquette

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On October 5, the Moscow Culture Workshop series 2021/22 by the IOE Center for Cultural Sociology will host Session 2 titled, ‘Class Distinction-Making through Etiquette, a Computational Approach.’

We are excited to announce the October’21 session of the Moscow Culture Workshop series:

October 5, 18:00 Moscow time, live on YouTube

The upcoming session will provide an expert forum to discuss a paper by Andrea Voyer (Stockholm University) titled, ‘Class Distinction-Making through Etiquette, a Computational Approach’ (coauthored with Zachary D. Kline and Madison Danton of the University of Connecticut).    

Background Reading

Class Distinction-Making through Etiquette, a Computational Approach


Social scientists of class and inequality have documented the rise of omnivorousness, informality, ordinariness, and emphasis on meritocracy. This apparent decline in class closure contrasts sharply with rising inequality and declining economic mobility. How are these competing developments reflected in everyday class distinction-making? In this article, we answer this question by applying Goffman’s work on the symbols of class status to the analysis of unique data. We use word embeddings to isolate and quantify the salience of six dimensions of class (affluence, cultivation, education, employment, morality, and status) to class distinction-making within a corpus of etiquette books published between 1922 and 2017. We find that education and employment are increasingly salient dimensions while status, affluence, cultivation, and morality decline as salient dimensions of class distinction-making. These results signal a decline of class operating as a status group through cultural closure, the rise of education and employment as the carriers of class in everyday life, and the corresponding legitimation of class position and class inequality on the basis of supposedly meritocratic grounds. This research opens up new avenues for research on class and the application of computational methods for investigations of social change.

About the Speaker

Andrea Voyer is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Stockholm University. 

Prior to joining the faculty of Stockholm University, Voyer was a Russell Sage Foundation Visiting Scholar and an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut. She has held appointments as Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University, Research Fellow at Linnaeus University in Växjö, Sweden, and Assistant Professor of Sociology at Pace University in New York City. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


About the Workshop Series

Moscow Culture Workshop brings together distinguished scholars in cultural sociology and allied domains from across the globe to share theoretical and conceptual perspectives that resonate widely with the Center’s research agenda and beyond.

The Workshop embraces the ethos of contributing meaningfully across the dimensions of global cultural sociology. It also aims to provide an invigorating and empowering forum so leading research hubs in the field and wider audiences can reinforce and push the frontiers of their partnership networks.

The Workshop has its conception and imperatives largely inspired by other similar academic endeavors that have proved a success, including: the Yale CCS Workshop, Konstanzer Meisterklasse, Fall Conference of the Center for Cultural Sociology at Masaryk University, and the CCS North: Cultural Sociology Discussion Group.

Read more about the Workshop Series