This essay advances the proposition that the category of class, when historicized, offers a powerful interpretive tool for the understanding of early modern society. In particular, it develops Sennett and Cobb's insight that unequal social structures engender feelings of humiliation and subordination amongst poorer people; and that such 'hidden injuries' are central to the maintenance of social inequality. The essay suggests some ways in which the category of class might illuminate unexplored paths in the social history of early modern England. It then goes on to look at the relationship between social conflicts, plebeian identities and patterns of subordination and domination. Throughout, it seeks to engage with recent historical applications of the work of James C. Scott, arguing that domination and subordination are best conceived as operating in relationship to one another, rather than as polar opposites.