Social class as flow and mutability: the Barbados case

Heather Greenhalgh-Spencer, Michelle Castro, Ergin Bulut, Koeli Goel, Chunfeng Lin, Cameron McCarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article draws on ethnographic research that examines the contemporary articulation of class identity in the postcolonial elite school setting of Old College high school in Barbados. From the qualitative data derived from this study, we argue that social class is better conceived as a series of flows, mutations, performances and performatives. We complicate the common-sense notion that class is a stable structure that allows for the categorization of people by providing a nuanced look into the lived experiences of students and alumni at this elite school. We focus on the wearing of uniforms, the use of technological devices, the deployment of language, and student-lead articulations of social class in an increasingly globalized space. Class is defined and (re-)shaped by students’ belongings and longings, all of which, too, are, mutable, and can readily mutate in accordance with local and global circumstances of supply and demand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-173
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2015


  • elite schooling
  • globalization
  • social class
  • strategic performance of class

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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