Unequal distribution of economic wealth
Economic inequality produces "classes"
Have significant effect on other inequality
(racial inequality, gender inequality)
Also effects health, crime and conflict
Class is an elusive concept
Most people, when asked, answered "middle class"
(not poor, not rich)
People, who belong to Union, might say "working class"
(employed by someone for wages)
Few would say "upper class" or "lower class"
Class, an economic relationship
Social class usually refers to a relationship, not an attribute
Max Weber describe "class situation" as
Resulting from one's location in property and market relations
Marketability and dominance
"market situation" - one's (relative) economic position
"work situation" - one's (relative) position in the division of labor
Distinguish those from "status situation"
Relative position of an individual in the hierarchy of prestige in society
Class inequality is different from other inequality
Racial and Age - physical feature
Ethnic - Cultural feature
Gender - physiological feature
Social class is hard to distinguish
Class diferentiation require lots of cultural inventiveness
Ex. Invention of "culture of wealth"
Ex. Invention of "culture of poverty" Awareness of class differences is hard to establish
Class have to be learned
Narratives of blame
Practices of oppression
Narratives of validation
Strategies of resistance
Signifying Class Distinctions
Created by economic relations
However, to be performed, class position must be signified by cultural
Patterns of fashion and consumption help to do this
Highlights differences in various ways
Ex. private schooling, private clubs, and educational credentialing
Two sociologists who have written about this are Thorstein Veblen and Pierre
The role of conspicuous consumption
Veblen's book "Theory of the Leisure Class (1912)" critiques modern Western
Pierre Bourdieu's book, "Distinction"
Argues that cultural capital reproduce social domination from one generation
to the next
Cultural capital includes all cultural symbols and practices that function to
enhance social distinctions
Ex. Tastes in art, style in dress, eating habits, beliefs - even language itself
Gaining cultural capital
Member of ruling class teach their children taste preference to pass along
cultural capital Teaching and leaning the culture of poverty
Anthropologist Oscar Lewis says: