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Deakin Anthropology Seminar – Love across class: when home is the site of class difference

Love Across Class

Deakin Anthropology Seminar – Love across class: when home is the site of class difference

Event Venue:

Deakin Downtown 727 Collins StreetDocklands, VIC, 3008, Australia ( Map )


Scholars of social class have long studied the personal and emotional adjustments of navigating unfamiliar classed worlds through forms of social mobility. In this talk, we ask: what happens when this ‘struggle to fit’ takes place not within the institutions of school or work, but within our very own home, immediate partnership, and the family life we have forged as an adult? Between 2020 and 2022, we interviewed 38 people from 23 cross-class relationships in Australia about their experience of forming a romantic partnership with someone who grew up within a differently-classed family. This seminar introduces this research through two central themes. First, it explores the labour undertaken to make these relationships work. This included interviewees’ attraction and desire for class difference; the role of humour in managing such differences; and the urge to escape or transcend aspects of one’s classed past through the relationship. Second, it explores the theme of friction and hurt. This consisted of a gulf in expectations about life; the process of leaving behind siblings and other family members by those who experience class mobility, or where a partner had rejected family members of a different class origin; and the productive friction that arose when the story of meeting across class was confused or unsettled. Overall, we find that sustained relationships across class often propelled attempts at frank discussions about class, and fuelled a close scrutiny of people’s own classed upbringings and its role in their life today. Upholding a sense of this class reality within these relationships emerged as pivotal to maintaining mutual feelings of dignity, trust and respect—even when the veracity of this class difference made these outcomes difficult to obtain or provisional, needing frequent revisiting and affirmation.

Speaker Details

Rose Butler is a Senior Research Fellow in sociology at the Alfred Deakin Institute. She studies class, social mobility, migration and inequality, with a focus on youth and family.
Eve Vincent is chair of anthropology in the Macquarie School of Social Sciences. Her books include Who Cares? Live on Welfare in Australia (MUP, 2023).

Additional Details

The speakers will be presenting in-person at Deakin Downtown, but you can also join us via Zoom


Meeting ID: 899 4551 4586
Password: 85908386

Staff, HDRs and students are all welcome. 

For in-person RSVPs and any inquiries, please contact David Giles or Timothy Neale 


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