Social class cannot be measured/determined

Topics: Social class, Sociology, Middle class Pages: 6 (2176 words) Published: March 2, 2014
"A social class is a group of people of similar status, commonly sharing comparable levels of power and wealth. In sociology, social classes describe one form of social stratification." Cheggs (n.d)[online]. “A large group of people whose economic circumstances, usually measured by their incomes, wealth and occupation, are broadly similar” Earlhamsociology pages (n.d) [online]. Social class can be said to be the level which an individual or a group of people are place by the society. It is also said to be the position of an individual in a society. “A caste system is a social system in which one’s social position is given for a lifetime.” Giddens (2009) [online]. The definitions given above explain the same thing; they all explain that social class is a level or group where an individual or individuals are placed by the society either because of their achievements, background or because of common (political or economic) interest. There are two types of sociologists, namely macro and micro and they both have views about the existence of social class. According to Core (2011) [online] macro sociologists agree that there is social class and also that “the position within social structure (status, roles, institutions) determines human behavior” while the micro sociologists believe otherwise, their view is “human behavior is based on individuals interpretation of a situation and the meaning they give it”. Micro sociologists also known as post modernists such as Malcolm waters and Pakulski believe that social class cannot be measured/determined and are dead. This is due to the fact that factors such as social connection, patterns of consumption and other trends are removing class structures in the society. According to Malcolm Waters lifestyle is not constant and therefore class cannot possibly be measured using this means; in some situations one may decide to adopt an exquisite lifestyle or may adopt a low level lifestyle but it all depends on that individual, therefore it is impossible to determine social class using lifestyle as an instrument to measure. Pakulski states that class is dead and cannot be measured when it is viewed from the area of social connection, social connection changes with every interaction. During these interactions an individual is likely to have contacts with different levels of individuals or groups; therefore social class cannot be determined through this view. In addition to this, the micro sociologists also believe that the pattern of consumption is also a reason for the view that class is dead, because of the mass production of commodities which makes inevitable products available to everyone including the rich and the poor; therefore class cannot be measured based on the consumption pattern of commodities. Criticisms have been made concerning the assertions made by the macro theorists. Functionalists such as Talcott Parson States that class can be measured by position but this postulation is valid to an extent because some individuals have major roles in the society but their social class is low. Another criticism was the assertion that class can be measured through educational qualification and achievement has also been criticized; educational achievement and qualification are desirables in a society but this is valid to an extent, furthermore, according to post modernists, one does not compulsorily belong to the lower class because of lack of education; individuals might not have an education but can still belong to the upper class and live an exquisite life. "The convenient political myth says class is dead. Downton Abbey deference is no more, and look how differences among the young meld into universal estuary and mockney. Classlessness may be modern and hip – yet birth determines destiny more certainly than 50 years ago. Never mind Hyacinth Bucket niceties of napkins over serviettes, class matters more not less than it did, and it needs saying...
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