SOCIOL 1000: Social Class

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Social Class Social Class · Social Class – The social structural position groups hold relative to the economic, social, political, and cultural resources of society · When we talk about class, we are talking about individuals who share similar: o Economic position o Access to resources o Privileges and disadvantages o Opportunities and life chances § Life Chances – Used by Weber to explain certain opportunities that people have in common by virtue of their class membership § Life chances include the opportunity for: ú Possessing goods ú Having an income ú Having access to education, particular jobs, etc. · Although class is a structural phenomenon and can therefore not be directly observed, we can still “see class” o One of the ways we can “see class” is by identifying status symbols § Status Symbols – Objects, movements, language, etc. that serve as a cultural symbol used to indicate and identify one’s economic position § What are some examples of status symbols in our society? ú Cars/SUVs ú Home and neighborhood ú Sports ú Vocabulary/language ú Occupation ú Clothing/jewelry ú Travel/vacation · General class distinctions: o Upper Class – Those who own a major share of corporate and personal wealth § Wealth – The total amount of assets you own minus one’s debts § Most of the individuals belonging to this class are those with inherited wealth (family wealth) § Those who gained their membership through self-created wealth and no inherited wealth are known as the nouveau riche § The nouveau riche are thought to spend their earnings on luxury vehicles, high-priced real estate, planes, etc. ú Ex: #3 on the Forbes 400 RichestAmericans – Larry Ellison (Google) · Owns a 482 foot mega yacht that is 5 stories high with 82 rooms inside, not including the indoor swimming pool, cinema, private submarine, and a basketball court that doubles as a helicopter launch pad o Upper Middle Class – Those with high incomes and high social prestige § Members of this group tend to be well-educated professionals or business executives making millions or just under a million per year § Members tend to be the ones setting the standards for “middle-class” life-style having nice cares, bi houses, vacation home, top-quality furniture, etc. o Middle Class –Although difficult to define, those that generally belong to this class are middle-level managers with some education, typically a Bachelor’s § We typically think of members of this group to have average size homes, take yearly vacations, and drive moderate vehicles o Lower Middle Class – Includes workers in skilled trades and low-income bureaucrat workers § We generally think of blue-collar workers and service workers such as secretaries, hair stylists, food service workers, police, firefighters, etc. § Members of this group are said to have a low income, education, and occupational prestige o Lower Class – Primarily composed of the displaced, working poor, and the poor § Members of this class have little formal education, are more often unemployed, working minimum wage jobs, or temporary work § People of color and women make up this class disproportionately § Working Poor – Those that work at least 27 hours a week, but whose wages fall below the federal poverty level ú Of white workers, women are more likely to be lower class and out ofAfricanAmerican workers, black women are almost twice as likely as black men to be among the working poor Income and Class · Income – The amount of money a person receives in a given period · There ar
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