Social class: Meaning, Characteristics and Overview

Social class has seen its modification with changing time. It was not possible to have a classless society. The class division also gave some power and responsibilities to a handful amount of people. Social class acted as major differences between people but at the same time, it also acted as the path of culture and social behaviour transmission.

social class meaning

Sociologists like Weber, Mac Iver and Page and P. Gisbert studied social class phenomena and agreed with a basic definition of class as the combination of some people belonging to the same level in respect to occupation and wealth which determined their status.

What were the major criteria for determining a person belonging to a particular class? For example, the attire, way of speaking and taste of any person depends majorly on his/her class. Suppose an upper-class person way of dressing will be far more different from a person belonging to a lower class. It was a derived result that a class represented the status of a person in the society.

Characteristics of Social Class

  1. The class system is a function of several variants like occupation, wealth, age, sex etc. The status of a person was achieved as well as ascribed too.
  2. There was a hierarchy tree observed in the social class system. There was classification viz. upper class, middle class, and lower class. The amount of prestige and wealth an upper-class person enjoys is much greater than the other two classes.
  3. There was a constant feeling of highness and lowness as the upper class enjoyed superiority and other classes were generally in their service.
  4. When there is superiority thing in our society, a sense of conflict in the lower class will also arise as due to powers generally upper class are seen as exploiting other classes rights. For example, the amount which is sanctioned for lower-class people, upper-class people also digests their money thinking it’s their right.
  5. As the caste system has sub-divisions, the class system also has various groups in them. Social Classes were the open system, unlike religious or caste system. There was freedom of mobility, people were not oppressed. Like in caste system untouchability practice existed but classes categorization has never seen this kind of social evil.
  6. There were some factors which got the same in the caste system as well as the class system. Endogamy practice is one of them. To maintain the prestige, wealth and fame a rich businessman daughter is not allowed to marry a boy of the middle class.
  7. Class system does not come under ascribed status, unlike the caste system. For example, a Kshatriya king son will be a Rajputana till his death but talking about the class system, a person wealth and occupation are the key factors so it comes under, achieved status. For example, a rich businessman wealth can le lost or he can become bankrupt at any moment and his class will be lower class. Thus a class of a person can change at any moment.
  8. The effect of Sanskritization was different on the class system and caste system. Sanskritization was not able to bring much change in the caste system but in the class system, its effect is quite evident.
Share on:

I am Prerna Jha, pursuing mechanical engineering from KIIT, Odisha, But I Love to Read and Write Sociology Related Concepts and Theories. I have done schooling from MVM School, Bilaspur. I have interest in writing love stories or any specific genre. I pursue a great interest in quilting. Right now I am an aspiring writer who writes for various pages. I have participated in many social events. I am a social animal who likes to have maximum participation in any fest.