Class Experience Mobility through Consumption, Work, and Relationships by Taylor Laemmli (2024)

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Sociological Theory


Sociological analyses of class mobility focus on enduring class movement. How might we reconceptualize class mobility to capture more shifting experiences of class? I propose a new way to theorize class mobility that is oriented toward the analysis of short-term class mobility. Class experience mobility (CEM) is a form of class mobility in which people temporarily access a class lifestyle that does not correspond to their class position, tasting another life before returning to their own. In this theory-building article, I first conceptualize CEM, situating it relative to mainstream class analysis. I then describe six class experience processes that enable temporary upward class mobility through consumption, work, and relationships. Finally, I show how the processes by which people engage in CEM can serve as mechanisms shaping long-term class mobility and people’s classed self-understandings.