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Stefan Wellgraf: "Conceptualizing Postfordist Social Inequality: Lessons from Ethnographic Research of Marginalized Urban Youth in Berlin"

Postfordist social inequality has been theorized as the growing importance of horizontal cleaveges and the weakening effects of vertical class differences. It is in Germany, one of the countries with the lowest degree of social mobility in Europe, that the concept of an individual choice of lifestyles is dominating mainstream sociological discourse on inequality (for example: Ulrich Beck, Gerhard Schulze). Ethnograhic research with both marginalized and higher class school-leavers questions this idea because it shows that self-conceptions, cultural practices as well as transition patterns of urban youth differ sharply between class lines. The concept of intersectionality will be presented as a more promising way to capture the dynamics of postfordist social inequality because it allows to distinguish which influence factors like class, race and gender play according to the context under study and therefore bridges the unlucky distinction between vertical and horizontal cleavages.

About the Author

Stefan Wellgraf graduated in cultural and social sciences at the university of Frankfurt/Oder from which he also obtained a dissertation grant in 2007. Since 2008 he is an associated fellow at the Transatlantic Graduate Research Program Berlin - New York at the Center for Metropolitan Studies. He worked for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP) in Washington, D.C. and as a freelance journalist for several newspapers. His book Migration and Media was recently awarded with the Augsburg Scientific Prize for Intercultural Studies. His dissertation project deals with marginalized urban youth in Berlin and questions of social inequality.

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