Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Social class refers to the hierarchical distinctions (or stratification) between individuals or groups in societies or cultures. Usually individuals are grouped into classes based on their economic positions and similar political and economic interests within the stratification system.
Most societies seem to have some notion of social class , but class is not a universal phenomenon. Many hunter-gatherer societies do not have social classes, often lack permanent leaders, and actively avoid dividing their members into hierarchical power structures.
The factors that determine class vary widely from one society to another. Even within a society, different people or groups may have very different ideas about what makes one "higher" or "lower" in the social hierarchy. Some questions frequently asked when trying to define class include 1) the most important criteria in distinguishing classes, 2) the number of class divisions that exist, 3) the extent to which individuals recognize these divisions if they are to be meaningful, and 4) whether or not class divisions even exist in the US and other industrial societies