Article

Class

Jeff Manza

in Sociology

ISBN: 9780199756384
Published online July 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0067
Class

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No concept is more widely used in sociology than that of “class.” Rooted in the writings of Marx and Engels, as well as Weber, Durkheim, Sorokin, and other classical social theorists, class has long been one of the key analytical concepts sociologists have deployed to explain a wide variety of outcomes. This wide usage does not, however, mean that “class” is always defined in consistent ways by sociologists, or that it is necessarily among the most important factors in accounting for any particular social phenomena. There are two features that all conceptualizations of class share. The first is that societies are organized unequally in a vertical fashion, with some people at the top possessing more power, income and wealth, and privileges than people at the bottom. These advantages (or disadvantages) are rooted (at least in part) in the economic relationships between individuals and households. Exactly how classes are defined and categorized, however, remains contested. Second, all class theories start from the proposition that the types of class relationships found in any society matter for other social processes. At the micro level, class location of individuals or households predicts such things as income and wealth, social and political attitudes, marriage, friendships and social networks, voting behavior, cultural consumption, and life chances. At the macro level, class power influences policy and political outcomes, as well as social movement organizations and capacities.

Article.  13334 words. 

Subjects: Sociology ; Comparative and Historical Sociology ; Economic Sociology ; Gender and Sexuality ; Health, Illness, and Medicine ; Population and Demography ; Race and Ethnicity ; Social Movements and Social Change ; Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility ; Social Theory

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