Social Class in Modern Times

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This presentation defines social class and is the lead-in to a presentation on how social class is represented in Chaplin's movie, Modern Times

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Social Class in Modern Times

  1. 1. Social Class in Modern Times A lecture in social class by Joshua Kjerulf Dubrow, for the Institute of Sociology, University of Warsaw, based in part on: Izydorczyk, Magdalena. 2009. „ Modern Times for Modern Times: Chaplin’s Enduring Vision of American Social Class Inequality during Economic Crisis.” Master’s Thesis, American Studies Center, University of Warsaw.
  2. 2. In everyday use, and even among sociologists, the word “class” is used non-sociologically, meaning “a kind of category:” “ A set, collection, group or configuration containing members regarded as having certain attributes or traits in common: a kind of category” – American Heritage Dictionary 4 th ed. (2000). What is Social Class?
  3. 3. What is Social Class? The results of battles over definition and measurement of social class are: -- a big, long literature on class -- fierce disagreement on how to interpret the literature -- periodic revivals of class analysis -- emergence of class definition cults populated with sociologists who are convinced that their definition is the “right” one -- c onfusion for students who try to synthesize the literature.
  4. 4. What is Social Class? Objective vs. Subjective Applying a criteria of inclusion to an individual in order to place them in a class category, regardless of whether the individual thinks they belong in that class category The individual places himself/herself in a class category, regardless of whether the researcher thinks they belong in that class category. Who is in what class category?
  5. 5. What is Social Class? Most definitions are concerned with the individual's relationship with the economic sphere, as opposed to "cultural" classes or "political" classes. Sociologists engaging in modern class analysis identify economic class position as an individual’s position in the labor force. Social class is largely based on the characteristics of their occupation: the skill level required for the job, the degree to which they are supervised by others, and who and how many workers they supervise. Managers, employers, unskilled manual workers, and so on.
  6. 6. What is Social Class? Relationship to the means of production , and attendant occupational characteristics, are critical to defining and measuring social class . C lass is relational, and conflictual. How? Classes have material interests. E ach class has a conflict of interest with other classes because each class seeks to keep what they have and add more to what they have. Because resources are finite and are distributed unequally within capitalist society each class is in a struggle with other classes to realize their material interests.
  7. 7. What is Social Class? Most definitions are concerned with the individual's relationship with the economic sphere, as opposed to "cultural" classes or "political" classes. White collar Upper non-manual Skill Level Upper to upper middle class Blue collar Upper manual Upper middle to middle class White collar Lower nonmanual Middle to working class Blue collar Lower manual Working class
  8. 8. What is Social Class? Most definitions are concerned with the individual's relationship with the economic sphere, as opposed to "cultural" classes or "political" classes. Politicians define social classes primarily in terms of income. Classes are divided within an income distribution. Take this hypothetical example: Lower Class Middle Class Upper Middle to Upper Class 0 – 10,000 10,001 – 25,000 25,001 – 45,000 45,001 – 75,000 75,001 – 90,000 90,001 – 150,000+
  9. 9. What is Social Class? Most definitions are concerned with the individual's relationship with the economic sphere, as opposed to "cultural" classes or "political" classes. They then attach occupations to it that earn, roughly, that amount of income: Lower Class Middle Class Upper Middle to Upper Class Waiter/waitress, temporary worker Clerical worker, small employer Stock broker, manager of large firm 0 – 10,000 10,001 – 25,000 25,001 – 45,000 45,001 – 75,000 75,001 – 90,000 90,001 – 150,000+
  10. 10. Social Class in Modern Times A lecture in social class by Joshua Kjerulf Dubrow, for the Institute of Sociology, University of Warsaw, based in part on: Izydorczyk, Magdalena. 2009. „ Modern Times for Modern Times: Chaplin’s Enduring Vision of American Social Class Inequality during Economic Crisis.” Master’s Thesis, American Studies Center, University of Warsaw.

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