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Social Classes Essay Example
Type of paper: Essay
Topic: Sociology , Social Class , Countries , Wealth , Theory , Society , Money , Education
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Social class is an age old concept referring to a group of people with similar status, power, influence and wealth. Social class refers to the social stratification of the society based on social, economic and educational status. However, the definition of class is not uniform across the countries and societies. There exist different theories of social class division and its impact on us. The word 'class' derives from the Latin word “classis”. During census people were categorized into different “classis” based on their wealth in ancient Rome. Wealth is still the biggest factor in determining class strata. This essay will highlight different theories of social class and different social factors that differentiate social classes, subsequently touching upon the probable social challenges encountered by someone while moving from one social ladder to another.
Social Class: Theories
Social class models are based on economics, sociology and psychology. Historically the most popular model is the common stratum model that divides society into three simple hierarchy of upper class, middle class and lower or working class. According to this theory, society is divided into different classes based on mainly two factors, economic and social. Apart from the common stratum model, there exists a Marxian class theory proposed by Karl Marx. Marx believed that class is a combination of subjective and objective factors. Objectively, a class shares a common relationship in terms of output. Subjectively, members of a class believe that they share some common interests. This class perception is not only a common feeling of shared interest of one’s own class but it also indicates how the society should be. As per the class theory of Marx, two classes - bourgeoisie and proletariat constitute the major two strata of the social class. Bourgeoisies are the wealthy section of a society controlling power through money. Proletariats are laborers who depend on bourgeoisies to earn money by selling labor. Marx explained in his theory about how ultimately bourgeoisies would be eliminated from the society and all would turn equal. Marx envisions a classless society in which there will be no class, no state and no need for money and everything will be shared and the society will run based on needs and not based on profits. Max Weber was a 19th century German philosopher and sociologist who presented another class theory. Weber’s theory is known as ‘Three component theory of stratification’. According to Weber, society is not stratified on the basis of economic status alone; it is also dependent on status and power. In Weber’s definition class or economic position definitely creates social strata but it is not the only factor. Status is another factor creating divide in the society. For Example, poets or saints may not be rich but they enjoy very high status or social class in the society. Power is another factor dividing society into different classes. For example, a person working in FBI may not be affluent monetary wise but he has immense power giving him a higher status in the society.
Modern Day Class Strata
In modern day world, social class stratification is based on the common three stratum model. This model divides the society into three strata - the upper class, middle class and lower class. Upper class is composed of people who are born wealthy or who are wealthy through inheritance or both. In most of the countries the upper class is determined by wealth. For example, in underdeveloped countries and developing countries like India, China, Kenya, Egypt and others a financially wealthy person always belongs to the upper class. The same is applicable in most of the developed countries as well. However, in some countries only people born into high society or aristocratic bloodlines are deemed as members of the upper class. Those who have amassed wealth through business or commercial activity are viewed as nouveau riche (New Charter University). This is particularly apparent in Britain where the concept of royal family and royal blood decides the upper or royal class. The third kinds of people considered to be upper class are politicians. In most of the countries, politicians are vested with huge power which gives them a social status one notch above the rest. Middle Class is the most dynamic among all class definitions. The definition of this class category changes with changing society and changing time. The common definition is that middle class are those people working on behalf of the owners to control and manage the laborers and they also work in highly skilled areas. Middle class definition of US is very broad and includes people who in many other societies will be considered lower class. The middle class concept in developed societies is broadening as more and more labor intensive work is now being outsourced to developing countries with only high end works being retained in developed countries. Middle class population is educated and highly skilled and in most of the cases earns enough money to live a decent life with secure future. Depending on the annual income bracket ranging from $50,000 to $199,999, American middle class is segmented into upper and lower middle class with upper middle class potentially earning between the range of $150,000 to $199,000 and lower middle class earning within the range of $50,000 to $74,999 (New Charter University). Upper middle class people are usually graduates with professional degrees practicing professions like law, banking, corporate sector, finance, engineering and other occupations. Lower middle class people are also highly educated involved in white-collar professions of teaching, nursing and the like. Lower class also known as the working class are the people working in blue-collar low paying jobs in factories, construction sites, restaurants and clerical positions. They have little or no economic security as they always live in the fear of losing their jobs. They don't have adequate technological expertise like the middle class to work in better paying jobs.
Changing Social Class: Challenges
All of us are born into some social strata of the society and cultural setting. Based on the class we receive education, healthcare, community and religious influences. This brings in some common behavioral pattern inside us knowingly or unknowingly. Most of us are born and die in the same social class (AAAS). People born in lower class have every possibility that they will also die poor. People born in the upper or middle classes are most likely to die as same. Only an individual or a group of individuals can move up the social ladder through massive individual or social initiative. As we have seen in the previous section that the main difference between a lower class person and an upper class person is the special skill and knowledge. This can be achieved through better education. Lower class people cannot move into the middle class strata of the society because for better education often money is required which they do not have. This barrier can be minimized by making education more affordable to lower class. We have seen more people moving into middle class where the basic education is same for all and is affordable by all. The US is one of the great examples of a society which has decreased its lower class by making basic education available to all. Moving into upper class from middle class is not that easy. The main difference between a upper class and middle class person is money. The main three things determining the upper class are wealth, high born and power. Middle class people cannot be high born and hence in order to acquire the status of upper class they have to either attain power or money. Power can be achieved by getting into positions of importance like Member of Parliament or minister of local, state or central government. Money can be achieved by getting into business ventures. On the other hand, getting down to the bottom of the social ladder seems to be an easier process. Upper class people who are born amidst wealth and power may lose all of it if they maintain an extravagant lifestyle and make injudicious investments.
Social class is an old concept that determines the social stratification existing in a society on the basis of economic position, social status and educational qualification. There are different theories of social class like common stratum model, Marxian class theory and Weber's three component theory of stratification. In today's world social class stratification relies on the common three stratum model which divides society into three distinct sections - upper class, middle class and lower class. Usually, based on the social setting and the availability of resources for learning skill and education, people born into each specific class die the same as they were born into. But since the difference between a middle class and lower class is the difference in education and skill, if education can be made affordable to all then chances of lower class people going one notch up the social ladder to middle class position are higher, but the same is not true for people aspiring to reach the upper class position because then they have to earn enough money and power to earn high status. Compared to difficulty in social climb, it is lot easier for one to climb down the social strata. A rich person can turn poor if he does no work and wastes money making bad investments.
Marx's Theory of Social Class and Class Structure, 28 Sept. 1999. Web. 14 July 2013 <http://uregina.ca/~gingrich/s28f99.htm> Shortell, Prof. Timothy. Weber's Theory of Social Class, Department of Sociology, Brooklyn College, Web. 14 July 2013 <http://www.brooklynsoc.org/courses/43.1/weber.html> Social Class in the United States, New Charter University, Web. 14 July 2013 <https://new.edu/resources/social-class-in-the-united-states> Social Class, Social Change, and Poverty, AAAS. Web. 14 July 2013 <http://sciencenetlinks.com/lessons/social-class-social-change-and-poverty/> Lareau, Annette and Conley, Dalton. Social Class: How Does It Work?, Russell Sage Foundation (August 2008). Print. Argyle, Michael. The Psychology of Social Class, Routledge: 1 edition (January 27, 1994). Print. Weber's View of Stratification, Boundless. Web. 14 July 2013 <https://www.boundless.com/sociology/understanding-global-stratification-and-inequality/sociological-theories-and-global-inequality/weber-s-view-of-stratification/>
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Social Class Status Differences Essay
Social class is the status of the society in which individuals are classified on basis of political, economic and cultural perspectives. Wealth, income and occupation are the major aspects of economic social classification.
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Political social class is characterized by Status and power, while the cultural group is determined by peoples’ lifestyle, education, values and beliefs (Bernstein 126). The economic, political and social classes can further be categorized in to subcategories of upper, middle, working and lower classes depending on one’s position in society.
It is quite essential for each individual in the society to understand the social position in which one belongs to (Bronfenbrenner 412). This will not only help in addressing the different issues that arise in life but also help in building a strong understanding of the societal needs.
Proper understanding of one’s class helps individuals to get fully prepared in facing challenges that come along in tackling daily activities. People who discern their social environment at an early stage in life constantly keep rising from one class to another.
It’s quite clear that social classes bring about inequalities in resources and life expectations. For instance, individuals with power have direct access to material resources compared to their followers.
Such differences cause economic gap between the different groups and may lead to the low group engaging in unethical means such as theft and corruption in order to bridge the gap (Bernstein 127). On the other hand, individuals endorsed with power may also look for alternatives of fighting in order to remain in power as a means of maintaining their status quo.
In understanding the social classes’ one should be keen in noting that; people in the lower social classes are involved in risky, lowly paid jobs which do not have any form of security unlike their counterparts in upper classes who enjoy better paid, secured jobs with access to medical cover (Bronfenbrenne 411).
In most instances, people in the lower class categories provide labor to the upper class; they do so by working as gardeners’ cleaners or any other odd jobs.
Low class individuals in the society lack adequate opportunities to exploit their talents. However, highly motivated individuals can rise to the other classes although they do so with a lot of difficulties (Davis 60).
Education is one way of shifting from one social class to another; children from upper classes have access to good schools and education and as result are able to maintain their class later in life. An educated individual is able to secure a well paying job, accumulate wealth and use the resources he has to gain political power.
The social class also determines the society’s demographics. Many low income earners are likely to stay in proximity to industries (Marshal 30). They reside in poorly constructed houses within noisy environment since they cannot afford better lifestyles (Bronfenbrenne 412).
On the other hand, upper social class individuals prefer to live in private, cool and sparsely populated areas. In addition, people from the low class are more prone to high crime related risks as a result of lack of opportunities and over population. This happens because many of them are unemployed hence hopelessly engage into alcohol and drugs.
Social class also has a very big impact on health status of an individual. Good medical care is only accessed by those who are willing to spend big. The lower class people suffer most because of their inability to access good medical care because of inadequate funds (Krieger 79).
Poor health contributes to low productivity of workers hence poor employment. However, the wealthy and rich are likely to suffer from conditions like obesity and cancer because of the kind of lifestyles they lead. Stress due to low pays, divorce and or conflicts may lead to death.
Differences in cultures, education levels, wealth, income and other aspects of social class in most instances cause discrimination (Marshall 30). For instance, one may be denied an opportunity as a result of being associated to a certain social class. This has given rise to massive corruption in the society and consequent moral degradation.
In social classes, informal and formal groups arise. The groups are mostly created to cultivate value in their groups and work in cooperation to maintain their status (Dahrendorf 12).
The groups also educate members on the opportunities and threats in the environment in addition to providing financial support to each other. Examples of these groups include Sacco’s which arise in the economic class, political parties and cultural groups.
In conclusion, social class differences create competition among different members in the society. Individuals within the lowest social class always work hard to maneuver their way to the next level. Individuals within the highest social classes have a feeling of having made it in life.
It would be crucial for anyone teaching on social classes to keenly study the economic, political and cultural backgrounds of the learners (Bronfenbrenner 420). This is a very sensitive area which needs serious research in order to avoid creating differences among the learners.
Bernstein, Benim. “A sociolinguistic approach to socialization: With some reference to educability.” Directions in sociolinguistics: The ethnography of communication. 12.6(1972):125-126.
Bronfenbrenner, Uenice. “Socialization and social class through time and space.” Readings in 12.5(1958):400-425. Print
Dahrendorf, Real. Class and class conflict in industrial society .Stanford: Stanford University Press Stanford, 1959. Print.
Davis, Alvis. “Social-class influences upon learning.” social psychology 15.8(1948):56 89. Print.
Krieger, Rowley. “Racism, sexism, and social class: implications for studies of health, disease, and well-being.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 78.7(1993):67-90. Print.
Marshall, Timao. “ Citizenship and social class.” Cambridge 12.2(1950):28-29. Print.
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Social Class and Social Movements
There are differences between income and wealth, and through these differences, one can understand the meaning of social class. Income is what a person earns through their work, while wealth is the assets that a person possesses at the present time. Since income and wealth have different effects on one’s life (a person could be wealthy with low income and vise versa), we need to know their differences to comprehend the meaning of social class.
Social classes and their roots could be perceived differently, and Weber’s and Marx’s approaches serve as examples of differing approaches. Marx believed that class was determined simply by economic factors, while Weber suggested that social stratification could not depend purely on class divisions and monetary relationships between them (Eidlin & Kerrissey, 2018). Marx’s class theory considered the development of society as a natural, historical process, introduced periodization of the development of society, and gave the definition of social-economic formation. On the other hand, it ignored specifics within the development of some countries and underestimated cultural and spiritual factors in a society’s development. Weber’s theory considered cultural aspects of a society’s development and emphasized a critical aspect of social stratification, status. Its weakness lies in the problem of the connection between its components and, therefore, between the types of social differences.
In today’s America, class is generally recognized as a hierarchy with three levels: upper, middle, and lower. The cultural definition of social class is a difficult concept to grasp; however, if asked to place themselves into particular social classes, people use certain factors. These include income, education, age, religion, race, employment status, and place of residence (Bird & Newport, 2017). In my opinion, underclass individuals’ movement upwards is hindered by the education paywall. Prestigious and high-quality education provides many opportunities for people, while those who cannot afford it are left behind.
Bird, R., & Newport, F. (2017). What determines how Americans perceive their social class? Gallup . Web.
Eidlin, B., & Kerrissey, J. (2018). Social class and social movements. In D. A. Snow, S. A. Soule, H. Kriesi, H. J. McCammon (Eds.), The Wiley Blackwell companion to social movements Wiley Blackwell , (pp. 515–536). John Wiley & Sons Ltd
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Social Class and Education, Essay Example
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Education inequality is a reality in the contemporary scenario. This is despite the developments and infrastructure advancements, which have been realized in the progress of the society. In the U.S., the scenario is not different with social classes influencing the access to education. Governments and other stakeholders are sentient on this actuality. This is evident with the presidential candidates in the U.S. tasked with explaining their positions concerning this reality. The media, including newspapers and other excerpts explored the position of the two candidates, the incumbent Obama and Romney since they represented different social classes. Judging from this scenario, it is evident that social classes are influential in policy creation and consequently the society’s welfare (Biddle, 2001). When considering the aforementioned information, it is apparent educational inequalities are brought about by the differences in classes. This is mainly because the individuals from the higher and middle-income classes are economically empowered to access the education infrastructure to the highest levels. This actuality influences the future generations of these classes, whereby it is easier for the privileged to maintain their status while the lower social classes find it difficult to enjoy similar opportunities. This can be attributed to the fact that the contemporary job market requires skilled individuals. This skill is provided by education hence limiting the lower social classes from progressing in the society. In order for the lower classes to be empowered, it is essential that education is accessible for the demographic. This will effectively break the cycle, which condemns the lower social classes to the same quality of life by empowering them to access education as their privileged peers (Kincheloe and Steinberg, 2007). Despite education being cited to be a fundamental right, the lower economic classes, as compared to the privileged classes in the society, do not equitably access education.
In the society, it is apparent that the distribution of resources is inequitable across population. This actuality results in the segmentation of the society according to their access to resources. In all societies, there are low, middle and high-income earners. These classes have been a characteristic of the society since the historical times. Despite this, in the historic times, prevalence of these classes was due to possession of physical resources including land and livestock among others. The advent of education provided a new avenue for the society to create opportunities for themselves. This led to the rise of the middle class since physical resources were not the only avenue of wealth creation. The progress realized in the society, including mechanization and globalization have augmented the need for skilled individuals in the contemporary job market. This means that individuals require skills in order to be proficient in different sectors. For an individual to acquire the necessary skills and expertise required for employment, it is crucial to acquire a quality education to the highest level possible. This requirement has made it necessary for individuals to pursue knowledge to the highest possible level. With this consideration, the pursuit for education is not as straightforward as presented since socioeconomic factors are prominent in influencing its access. Education is an investment, and it requires resources. This means that education attracts costs, which have to be incurred by the society. This actuality locks out the lower economic classes since they do not have adequate resources to facilitate for their access to this fundamental requirement in the contemporary scenario.
As aforementioned, skills are essential for an individual to carve out opportunities in the competitive society. This is achievable through access of education. University and college education are considered the adequate levels for an individual to acquire the required skills for the contemporary job market. The college and university level education attract high tuition fees than the preceding education levels. The government and other stakeholders have tried to be proactive in addressing this limitation through numerous grants, scholarships and loans. Despite the availability of these solutions, they are not sufficient to cater for this socioeconomic class since the resources provided for this purpose are limited. This means that the financial burden of education is confined to individuals and their families (Min-zan Lu, 2012). This is a challenge because it is arduous for them to raise or even access the required resources for a quality education. This means that the individuals from the low economic classes are confined to limited progress since they cannot access the skills offered by educational institutions due to lack of resources. This class is also confined to the state apparatus provided for education services including community colleges, institutions, which cannot match the quality and resources, provided in the prestigious institutions. This results in individuals from the lower classes accessing insufficient education, which makes them less competitive in the job market. Their lack of resources impedes them to access the required standards of higher education hence compromises the opportunities that are available for them in the job market.
When considering the correlation between socioeconomic classes and education, it is apparent that lack of resources impedes access to quality education. When analyzing the situation, another correlation becomes overt. It is evident in the aforementioned information the social classes influence the access of education. Despite this, it is also valid to argue that education creates the low social classes. This is because the contemporary society is over reliant on education, as the marker for qualification for opportunities in the job market (Andersen and Taylor, 2011). This overreliance has resulted in the opportunities present in the society to be confined to the social classes, which access adequate resources. When individuals are unable to access education, their job opportunities are limited significantly. This results in the individuals having to be contented with jobs, which require unskilled labor. This means that they will be subjected to lower pay as compared to the educated demographic. The individuals have to work longer hours or even hold multiple jobs in order to satisfy their economic requirements (Reay, David and Ball, 2005). Most of the unskilled jobs do not attract benefits including health insurance among others. This means that they have to put additional efforts in order to access the benefits, which are provided for the educated class. If education is accessible to all, then the lower classes would be able to obtain jobs which are better paying and have the aforementioned benefits.
This actuality percolates into their lifestyle since they will have to live by the resources, which they can access, in this case, limited resources. This results in the uneducated individuals to have limited access to the resources and amenities in the society. This influences negatively the quality of their lives in the long term. Individuals from the lower classes are unable to access efficient services due to the social status. These services include health insurance among other benefits. They also live in neighborhoods, which are characterized by detrimental living conditions and vices including drugs and crime. All these detrimental effects are side effects of the inequity in the access of education in the society. This means that education needs to be made accessible to address the social problems, which affect the low social classes.
When considering the aforementioned premises, it is evident that education has been engrained into the contemporary society. Education influences an individual’s access to resources and consequently their social class. This means that the correlation between education and social class is inevitable. In order for the society to address the inequalities present in the education sector between the classes, it is imperative that all the stakeholders are proactive in ensuring that this is a reality. The government and the private sector alike have to reevaluate the structures and policies involved in the sector. For instance, education should be made affordable for the lower classes of society. It is evident from the policies of the incumbent U.S. president that the lower social classes are the responsibility of the state.
Some of the recommendations the government might consider concerning the issue of education and social classes is by subsidizing the sector further to ensure that education is conceivable for the lower classes. The government might also improve the existing institutions serving the lower classes including community college to match the education quality provided in other prestigious institutions. This will enable the student from the lower income bracket families to acquire a competitive education hence match up the qualifications of other students. The private sector may also be encouraged to be accommodative of this demographic through the provision of programs tailored for these students. This will make certain that education is easily accessible to poor individuals hence facilitate future progress for the demographic.
Education is a fundamental right for individuals in the contemporary society. This means that it is imperative that governments ensure that the sector is not discriminative to social classes. This is essential since it will empower individuals from the lower classes to access the opportunities presented in the contemporary scenario. This means that the disruption of the cyclic effect of poverty among the lower classes will be possible since individuals can access the resources present in the society. If education is available for all classes, then individuals will have the required skills to attain financial independence. The society should make certain that education is accessible in order to facilitate equitable distribution of resources in the society, hence empower individuals from the lower classes.
Education is an integral requirement in the contemporary scenario. This means that individuals have to attain education in order to access the resources available in the society. This has been necessitated by the progress witnessed by the society whereby various skills are required. These skills are provided by the education offered by various institutions. Despite this, individuals from the lower classes are impeded from accessing education since they do not have the sufficient resources. This means that the relevant stakeholders should make education accessible in order to ensure that the individuals in the society can access the available resources augmenting their lives. This is essential because it will facilitate the individuals from the low classes to acquire more resources consequently enhancing their lives than the current situation.
Andersen, M. L., & Taylor, H. F. (2011). Sociology: The essentials . Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Biddle, B. J. (2001). Social class, poverty, and education: Policy and practice . New York [u.a.: Routledge Falmer.
Kincheloe, J. L., & Steinberg, S. R. (2007). Cutting class: Socioeconomic status and education . Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Pubs.
Min-zan Lu. (2012). From silence to words: writing as struggle.college English, vol 49, No 4. Pp 437-448.
Reay, D., David, M. E., & Ball, S. (2005). Degrees of choice: Class, race, gender in higher education . Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books.
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