Accounts of Crossing the Class Divide

Jessi Streib

in The Power of the Past

Published in print February 2015 | ISBN: 9780199364428
Published online January 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780190232450 | DOI:
Accounts of Crossing the Class Divide

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  • Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility
  • Marriage and the Family


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This chapter addresses why individuals from different class backgrounds feel compelled to marry. The chapter argues that cultural matching theory and typical uses of exchange theory are unable to explain why adults with different class origins remember feeling drawn to each other. The chapter develops an alternative explanation of accounts of heterophily by class origin. It argues that individuals who share a college degree but not a class origin describe feeling drawn to each other due to “cultural complements,” or the obverse of the sensibility that each partner desired but felt they lacked. Specifically, blue-collar-origin respondents recalled feeling they lacked a sense of stability and ease at achieving and found their partners appealing because they possessed these traits. White-collar-origin respondents remembered feeling they lacked familial intimacy and an ability to disconnect from work; they reported feeling drawn to their blue-collar-origin spouses because they possessed these traits. This chapter suggests that these obverse sensibilities result from blue- and white-collar-origin individuals’ experiences in different social classes.

Keywords: achievement; class; cultural complements; cultural matching theory; exchange theory; family intimacy; heterophily marriage; stability; work

Chapter.  7845 words. 

Subjects: Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility ; Marriage and the Family

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