Social classes have been with in existence within the society for a long time. Social classes refer to arrangements of individuals in the society according to their economic positions or culture. Social classes are examined according of social stratifications. In modern days, the main social stratifications include the lower, middle and upper class. Similar to political and sociology philosophy, social stratification can also be viewed in terms of the powerful and the powerless (Conley &Lareau 37). The essay discusses the impact of social class on an individual’s identity and pride and how the social class partition society. The paper also evaluates why people remain in the same social class that they were born.
Impact of Class on Identity and Pride
Viewing the society in a hierarchical manner, the Upper class can be considered as the group of people at the top of the hierarchy, followed by the Middle class and then the Lower class at the bottom.
The Upper class is endowed to material resources and influence. They enjoy great power because of their resources and positions of influence. Most people in the Upper class do not have to work regularly in order to earn a living. In most cases, they depend on inherited or earned investments (Conley & Lareau 58).
The upper class also enjoys influence at different platforms such as in politics. Because of their political voice and influence, they are able to influence policy makers to respond to their needs. In modern society, the upper class is characterized by control of large inherited wealth. They own large amount of properties and businesses and have control over income derived from these investments. The sense of security, wealth, power and influence gives the upper class pride.
Because of the position in society, the lower and middle class subject themselves to the upper class thus increasing their sense of pride. The upper class identify themselves by control over large coffer of wealth, live palatial mansions located in secluded estates, drive expensive vehicles among other expensive lifestyles. The middle social class is classified into two categories.
These include lower middle class and upper middle class. Middle class is the social class that most people identify with. Education, income and occupation are the main factors that distinguish the middle class (Conley & Lareau 59). Education is a major factor in middle class since it determines the kind of occupation that one would have and consequently the income.
Upper middle class refers to highly educated individuals who hold key positions in their professions. Many of upper middle class individuals have graduate degrees or other higher education qualification. This social class also enjoys above average income, have autonomy in their work in addition to being major policy makers.
Lower middle class are ranked below the upper middle class in the social hierarchy. People in lower middle class usually have non-manual and semi-professional occupations such as office staff, sales workers, police officers or low-level managers (Levine 81). To be able to acquire their occupation, the lower middle class require training that is beyond high school and college degree. The lower middle class usually enjoy less autonomy in their work and work under supervision. Their opportunities for advancement are usually limited while most of them have to take more than one job in order to supplement their income.
People in this class are more concerned over social economic changes such as inflation, taxes and layoffs (Conley and Lareau 60). Although the lower middle class show interest on political issues, they lack power or influence to determine public policy. Most of the lower class gets their pride from their occupation, their ability to make a living and from their family. Lower class refers to individuals at the bottom of social-economic hierarchy. The lower class usually has limited education, limited occupational skills, work at low wages, have irregular employment or are often unemployed.
The lower class is usually poor which means that they may not be able to afford some essential commodities (Levine 54). This class may also be classified into working poor and underclass. The working poor usually take manual and undesirable jobs such as cleaners. The working poor usually feel powerless over their economic situations and may attribute them to bad lack. The underclass is the extremely poor individuals usually not participating in any regular economic activities. People in this class are usually isolated from other people and may be source of many social problems such as theft.
Moving from one class to the other
Crossing from one social class to another is not common. Most people remain in the social class where they were born.
Various factors make it uncommon to shift from one social class to the other. One of the major factors is socialization. The partitioning between social classes makes socialization across social classes difficult. People are usually socialized in social classes where they were born. Many do not have opportunities to socialize with individuals in other social classes (Levine 102). The upper class usually lead private lives without any form of interaction with other people.
Although lower upper may have active positions such as high-level management position in major companies, they as well do not interact more with people outside their class. The upper class own homes secluded places rarely share public places with middle and lower class. For instance, they have executive school to take their children and have their social clubs thus limiting chances for interaction with other social classes. Although shifting from one social class is rare, it is much easier for an individual to move from middle class to upper class or from lower class to middle class. Education and individual gift are the main channels through which one can shift from one class to the other. Gifted children in lower class can be able, given opportunity for education, to move to middle class.
On the other hand, individuals in upper middle class may be able to move to lower upper class through their profession.
Social classes are part of society and they determine an individual’s identity or pride. The Upper class is endowed with material resources and influence. Through their resources and influence, they are able to influence public policy. Middle class individuals are ranked at the middle of the social class hierarchy. They have average income and participate in normal running of the economy.
On the other hand, the lower class has unstable employment or are unemployed making them to remain poor. Shifting from one social class to another is not common because of limited socialization across social classes. Although moving from one social class to the other is not common, individual gifts and education are the main avenues which can enable a person to move to a higher class.
Conley, Dalton and Lareau, Annette.
Social Class: how does it work? New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2008. Print. Levine, Rhonda. Social Class and Stratification: Classic statement and theoretical debates. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006.