• Based solely on his or her appearance, what physical traits would you look for?
The physical traits that one will look for to determine his social class is his manner of talking, taking particular notice of his accent, the clothes that he wears, including the shoes and any jewelry that he has on.• If you were only able to see the person and ask him or her just one question, what question would you ask?
If one were to ask one question to a person to assess his social class, one would ask what his occupation is.
• Why would you ask that particular question?
A person’s occupation will give an idea of his educational background and the income which he earns. If he has a managerial position in an organization, one can conclude that his standard of living may be high; thus, belonging to a higher social class. On the other hand, if the occupation involves manual labor, one can surmise that his salary is quite low. In assessing a person’s social class, sociologists give importance on income, wealth and occupation.
• Are there any other observations that you could make from an individual's appearance that can provide you with evidence of an individual's social class?
A person’s general physical built may also provide evidence of his social class. An example of this is when a person looks underweight and pale, one can conclude that he may be undernourished which may be due to poverty. A person who is obese may also be part of a lower social class because his income can only pay for food from fast food restaurants, which are relatively cheaper. Conversely, a person who looks healthy, with a well-built physique, glowing skin, etc., may be construed as one who belongs to a higher social class because he can afford healthy and nutritious food which usually costs more. It is also possible that the same person can afford to go to the gym to exercise or he has the money to visit beauty clinics that makes him look good always. Bonnie Berry in his book “The Power of Looks: Social Stratification of Physical Appearance”, links physical appearance to one’s life chances, adding further that it may result in social inequalities.
Berry, B. (2008). The Power of Looks: Social Stratification of Physical Appearance. Hampshire, England: Ashgate.
Earlhamsociology.co.uk. (2013, June 30). Introducing social class, the distribution of wealth and the distribution of income. Retrieved from earlhamsociologypages.co.uk: http://www.earlhamsociologypages.co.uk/socclassintro.html