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Social Status and Class

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In the US,social status and class is determined by the following factors:economic factors, social factors as well as academic and cultural factors. For Pierre Bourdieu, social class is all about the determination of tastes and capacities. The upper class/bourgeoisie make more therefore their tastes and lifestyles/perspectives will be different from that of the working class as well as the underclass- the very poor. Economic equates to jobs and earnings. The richer you are, the higher you sit in the scale. Social factors include prestige that comes with career and capacity. For example, while you might not make as much as Bill Gates, as a US Senator you will also have political power. Academic factors also influence standing. Those with PhDs and MBAs and graduate degrees can earn more,potentially than plain High School graduates. Plus,it takes dedication and smarts to make it through college and grad school,hence it is bestowed respect. Here culture plays a part. America's culture is one that appreciates education and research making those who take them up perceived 'better' in society than those who did not. So, potentially, as an employer, I would trust the role of a manager to one with a Management Degree than to one who only has a high school diploma.

2. The Characteristics of Social Classes

The popular scale by Thomson and Hickey (2005) suggested that America's social classes are divided/determined as such:

Upper Class - consisting of about 1-5% of the total population,they hold much authority and power over the nation's economic and political affairs, owning a huge percentage of American businesses. They have incomes above $500k/annum and consist of CEOs, entrepreneurs,government officials and at the top sit industrialists like Rupert Murdoch and billionaires like Bill Gates. These are the elite. Often their children who inherit their money and power also stay within the class unless they lose the economic might and influence that drives their status.

Upper Middle Class- about 15% of the total populace with incomes above $100k/annum. Highly educated, they are professionals and managers in the upper tier of companies and organizations. They typically hold graduate degrees (i.e. Doctors, MBAs, PhDs,MAs, MSCs).

Lower Middle Class- about 32% of the populace, they are semi-professionals and specially-skilled craftsmen who are autonomous and sought after. Income range between $35k-$75k/annum. They typically have some form of college education.

Working Class- about 32% of the populace, they do clerical, pink and blue collar work but suffer low job security. Household income range between $16k-$30k/annum typically holding only high school diplomas without specialization.

Lower Class- about 14-20% of the populace, they usually work in poorly-paid positions suffering repeated cycles of unemployment, relying on government support to survive. Members of this strata has some form of high school education but no specialization. Opportunities at this level are scarce.

We can see above how economic/financial capacity mixes with education and specialization to determine one's position in the social strata. Because of their economic capacity and education, Doctors and CEOs enjoy a better position in the scale indicating that they can give better life chances to their children compared to, say, those in the lower class It is no surprise then that those who make it to the Upper class get a certain kind of respect being that it takes a lot to move up to said class and maintain membership in it.

3. Sociological Perspectives: Structural-Functionalism and Conflict Theory

Structural-Functionalism is a perspective that sees society via the varied structures that make it up (family,organizations,social groups) and the functions/roles they play within the social dynamics. Now if we were to explain social class from a sociological perspective, we can look at the group membership,the functions and role of that individual within a particular community/society



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