Diversity in lay perceptions of social class among Finnish youth


  • Katja Lötjönen
  • Jari Martikainen


class hierarchy, diversity, lay perceptions, social class, word association method


This study explores young Finnish people’s lay perceptions of social class with a focus on the class terms used to form hierarchies based on their everyday understanding. Our approach is based on cultural class research, which focuses on diversity and subtle nuances of class. The participants were 519 young people ages 15 to 25. The data were collected using the word association method and analyzed by quantitative and qualitative content analyses. While 254 participants perceived Finland as having social classes, their perceptions differed from each other. Half of them formed class hierarchies with more explicit logic, and the other half used more implicit ways of forming hierarchies with diverse class terms based on themes of economy, employment, power, majority/minority, and education. Our findings show ample diversity in both the vertical and horizontal perceptions of social class among young lay people.



2023-11-17 — Updated on 2023-12-14


How to Cite

Lötjönen, K., & Martikainen, J. (2023). Diversity in lay perceptions of social class among Finnish youth. Finnish Journal of Social Research, 16, 23–42. https://doi.org/10.51815/fjsr.128723 (Original work published November 17, 2023)