Researchers into social stratification and social exclusion might be forgiven if they feel that current debates in their area sound rather like a new version of the Monty Python parrot sketch. Faced with a series of persistent complaints from its intellectual consumers that ‘class is dead’, class analysts have replied that it may appear to be dead but is, in fact, resting. The processes of stratification that lead to social exclusion, they argue, cannot be understood in terms of gender, race and age alone: class remains a central explanatory factor. It may be less visible and less obvious than in the past, but it is certainly not dead. Indeed, class analysts often suggest that class relations are, after a short period in abeyance, once again growing in importance and will continue to do so in the future. Class theory retains its relevance. Just look at the beautiful plumage.