John Goldthorpe

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John Harry Goldthorpe CBE 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]


  • 2016 Sociology as a population science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • 2007 On Sociology (2nd Edition). Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • 2004 The economic basis of social class. London: Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, London School of Economics.
  • 2000 On sociology: numbers, narratives, and the integration of research and theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-829571-5
  • 1996 Rational choice theory and large-scale data analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • 1992 The constant flux: a study of class mobility in industrial societies. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-827383-5
  • 1992 Revised class schema. London: Social and Community Planning Research.
  • 1991 The uses of history in sociology: reflections on some recent tendencies. Oxford: Nuffield College.
  • 1987 Social mobility and class structure in modern Britain. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-827286-3
  • 1963 The affluent worker: political attitudes and behaviour. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-07204-2


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-10. Retrieved 2010-10-18. 
  2. ^ Goodhart, David (July 26, 2009). "They're wrong – social mobility is not going downhill". The Sunday Times. 
  3. ^ John H. Goldthorpe (February 2007). ""Cultural Capital": Some Critical Observations" (PDF). Sociologica (Italian Journal of Sociology on line). doi:10.2383/24755. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-02-27. 
  4. ^ "The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences: John H. Goldthorpe". Retrieved 2009-05-01. [dead link]