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— ix — This is a book about the role of the concept of class as an analytical construct in anthropology and how it relates to culture. We hope this book will give anthropologists permission to use the word class. We should not let the ideologies of neoliberalism deter us from incorporating class as central to our understandings. If “everyone” agrees there is no class, then those who experience it most intensely—for instance, Walmart shoppers who daily live the injuries of class but don’t know what to call it—along with anthropologists with insufficient analytical clarity use other concepts and words that disguise those realities. In polite academic circles it may be “race” or “gender.” Among the hoi polloi it may be “those Mexicans” or other immigrants. Whether the discourse be elevated or not, these terms are poor substitutes for a viable and vibrant concept of class. The contributors to this volume explicate the relationships between experience and how people understand their worlds—consciousness—culture , and how both experience and consciousness relate to the realities of positions in economic systems—class. Preface — x — P r e f a c e In the tradition of American anthropology, we include archaeological interpretations to extend our time horizons into the past so that we can better understand long-term processes rather than be confined to contemporary ones. The book begins to answer these questions with archaeological work (Honeychurch, Bolender) that sets the time-span of the study of class and indicates the advantages of confining ourselves to the evidence of material objects and remains so that the ideologies of the living do not interfere quite so much with our attempts to understand the relationship of class and culture. The contributors all focus on Morton Fried’s (1967) notion of class as groups of people defined by differential access to resources. Sometimes differential access is enforced by means of the apparatus of state organizations, but examination of the archaeological and historical record suggests that this is not an inevitable relationship. The central questions that unify this collection of ethnographic, ethnohistoric, and archaeological works from various locales and periods are: • What are the objective bases for class in different social orders, from chiefdoms to industrial states? • How do people’s understandings of class relate to their conceptions of race and gender? • How do ideologies of class relate to realities of class? • How does the US managerial middle-class denial of class and emphasis on meritocracy relate to the increasing economic insecurity that many now experience? • How do people who experience economic insecurity respond to it, and what are the political implications of their responses? the Anthropological Study of Class and Consciousness This page is intentionally left blank ...


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