Massive increase in social inequalities in the United States of America, coupled with growing inequalities in wealth and income, have both refocused and drawn attention on social classes as a main determinant of population. Daily analysis through the use of consistent and coherent determinations of socioeconomic position in the United States of America surveillance and research however remains seldom. Certainly, social class exists in the United States of America today although it has consistently remained to be a controversial concept with multiple competing definitions. This paper identifies the determinants of social status as well as class in the United States of America. It also identifies different characteristics of different social classes. In this paper, I am also going to explore how the sociological perspective of structure functionalism and conflict and how it applies to stratification and class.
Most of the Americans have inherently believed in simple three-class model including the middle class, the rich and the poor. More complicated models that have that have been put forward describes many dozen class levels, while some defy their existence although in the strictest sense of social class in US community. Much of the definitions given concerning class do structure people according to their statuses like education, income wealth membership in specific social network and subculture and finally, the type of occupation. William Thompson, Dennis Gilbert, James Henslin and Joseph Hickey have all proposed class systems with six social classes which are distinct. Some of those class models encompassed an upper middle class, middle class capitalist or upper class, lower middle class and the unemployed underclass (Warshay, H. Pg.18-22)
Social classes and status are cultural and economic arrangements of societal groups. Class is the essential object of analysis for political scientists, sociologists, anthropologists, social historians and economists. In social sciences, social class is discussed in terms of social stratification. Stratification in modern Western context comprises of three layers: lower class, middle and upper class. Each class is further divided into smaller classes like occupational. Social classes are viewed as ‘the elites’ within their own societies.
In so-called acephalous and non-stratified, there is no concepts of power, hierarchy or social class beyond limited or temporary social statuses. In the U.S, every individual has equal social standing in most cases. In class societies an individual’s class status is a kind of group membership. Some theorists and activists disagree about the elements concerning membership but common characters appear in different accounts. They include:
Relationships of ownership, production and consumption
A common legal status like occupational, ceremonial and reproductive rights.
Family, tribal and kinship group membership and structures.
Acculturation, consisting of education.
Sociologists analyze some social phenomena at different angles from different perspectives. From real interpretations to sweeping generalizations of social and society behavior, sociologists study things from specific events to the big picture that is from micro levels of analysis to macro level of analysis of social patterns. The pioneering sociologists offered an extensive conceptualization of fundamentals in a society and its workings. Their views form the basis for the present theoretical perspectives which provide an orienting framework for asking questions about people and the society. Sociologists today employ 3 main theoretical perspectives namely, functionalist perspective, conflict perspective and the symbolic perspective. These perspectives offer theoretical sociologists paradigms for explaining how the society influences people and vice versa. Every perspective conceptualizes social forces, society and human behavior.
Symbolic interationist perspective (symbolic interactionism) directs theoretical sociologists to consider details and symbols of everyday life, what they mean and how people interact towards each other. The perspective was introduced by George H. Mead an American philosopher to American sociology in 1920’s. According to the functionalism (functionalist perspective) each society is interdependent and may contribute to functioning of the society as a whole. The government of U.S provides education for young children which in turn pay taxes for a state to continue running itself. The conflict perspective presents a society differently than to the symbolic and interactions perspective. American sociologists in 1940’s and 1950’s ignored conflict perspective in favor of functionalist, which made them gain considerable interests in theory of conflict (jeremiahproject.com, Para1-10)
Future business firms for the social class
When developing a new business firm into the market, people should recognize opportunities and contacts other social class people who are interested in exploiting the possibility. Members of different social classes may begin their discussions in sharing perceptions concerning opportunities and industries. For instance, as the social class look into their future, members are likely to consider and weigh their expectations on market potential, external factors and production practices among others.
Also, for the social class to succeed in their future business firms, they need to look at themselves in order to determine their interest level in the project. For instance, the amount of time each member is able or willing to commit to the firm. Another factor is the amount of cash needed to see the business firm through. Their level of understanding concerning the potential business is very imperative. A successful business among the social class members has to bear adequate understanding and interest. The members must be willing to commit their little resources available to see the project through. Depending on the size of their group, specific individuals may be identified and appointed to champion the projects. They will be obligated to keep the project going through the arrangement of meetings and ensuring that other members are updated. They should also ensure that knowledgeable individuals are contacted and enough information is gathered for promoting the idea of business development as well as to assure that the stipulated planning process is ongoing. There are some of the issues which the group can look into and address for the betterment of the project. Some of those issues are setting parameters for the project. Establishing an ideal timeline, determining the progress and commitment level of members and identifying the sources of seed money.
The social class members should also set goals for their projects and conduct preliminary assessments of their projects. They should also take into consideration the components of a successful business plans. This will help them in:
Producing technology and strategy
Site selection of their businesses
Identifying future business opportunities
Addressing critical concerns
In the description of the project, its commodity, service and product.
According to Netting, a macro social work remains a social work. It is a profession that explains itself basing on a person-environment perspective. In the United States of America before the dawn of social work, the feminist historians point out three traditions of their organization: rights, benevolence and reforms. In the late 1700s orphan asylums and missionary works have emerged to address immediate needs among the social work (Netting, E.P.67-68)
Despite the fact that social class is known to be a group of people who happen to share similar economic and social status, that should not be a valid reason to sideline people from other classes. People should all be treated equally and with utmost respect because they are also humans. Unnecessary comparisons of classes should be ditched for good because all people are equal before God. The government of the United States of America should pass laws which will protect its citizens and make them all equal. Prejudices, inequalities, life chances at giving education, jobs and other important factors must not influence the class which a person is born into.
List of references
jeremiahproject.com, (2011): Social Class Warfare in America. Retrieved 22 March 2011
Netting, E. (2000): School of Social Work: Virginia Commonwealth University Press
Warshay, H. (1999): The Sociological Quarterly: Wayne State University Press