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life chances


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A term used in Max Weber's analysis of class and status, in particular with reference to the concept of ‘class situation’. The ownership of property and the disposal over goods and services in the marketplace, which are outcomes of the distribution of power in society, determine the ‘chance’ to realize an individual's goals in social action.

The term subsequently passed into general usage, notably in studies of social mobility, where the closed nature of a society diminishes the opportunities (chances) for advancement of social classes, women, and ethnic or racialized minorities. It includes chances for educational attainment, health, material reward, and status mobility. See the discussion in Ralf Dahrendorf, Life Chances (1979).

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.


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