According convenient method of classifying and differentiating various types




According to E.
A. Johns a Principal Lecturer in Behavioural Sciences (Department of
Management, Slough College of Technology) ‘the concept of the class provides a
convenient method of classifying and differentiating various types of attitude
and social action prevalent in society, without necessarily implying evaluative
notions of superiority or inferiority’. This essay will explain how social
class can be both a source of identity but also inequality. Firstly, it will
identify the meaning of social class and give examples of the existence of such
phenomenon. Secondly, it will focus on social class as a primary source of
identity in reference to up to date research. Thirdly it will present arguments
for the social class being a primary pattern of inequality. This essay will
also refer to key sociological studies on institutional inequality and
statistical data as well as to theoretical perspectives such as Marxism and Weber’s.
Lastly, it will expose causes of primary patterns of inequality and give the



In the sociology
dictionary, social class is identified as one of the concepts of
stratification. Social class or in other words social category is a result of
unequal distribution of rewards and resources such as wealth, power and
prestige it is mostly primarily defined by how these segmentations are
identified. In the capitalist system most of the goods are controlled by Upper
class also called bourgeoisie, whose members use the work performed by the
working class or proletariat to gain wealth and control. The prosperity of
Upper class depends greatly on the work of others, workers meet the needs of
Bourgeoisie through selling the wages they are paid in exchange for their time
of labour power. Another social class that more recent Marxist thinkers
identified is the managerial class, more often called middle class or
intermediate class, members of this social class generally do not own means of
production but are responsible for controlling them in the interest of Upper
Class. We can consider as members of this class professional workers such as
professors and government officials, they work for wages but still have a respectable
amount of autonomy that divides them from working class. (The Backwell
Dictionary of Sociology, A. G Johnson, 1995) We can see the existence of social
classes on daily basis. Although belonging to a certain social class doesn’t
mean that an individual has to conform to all the rules and patterns existing
within this social group, there are featuring characteristics that we can
notice within every class. Where do people shop, where they eat, what kind of
car they drive, what school did they go to, all of those things are affected by
the class that they belong to and in most cases are born into. The differences
between social classes can be seen in almost every aspect of life. A very good
example of this is fashion. Since hundreds of years fashion was one of the
means of class distinction, it was used to distinguish between classes, the
ones who belonged to Upper class such as members of the monarchy would wear
expensive, decorative clothing and those who belonged to a lower social class,
peasants wore simple, cheap clothes. Although in present time the rules of
fashion in addition to social class have changed and are no longer as strict as
they used to be, we can still notice that in certain job professions, companies
that are considered as middle class the fashion style is rather different to
the one in factories and other places were the workers are considered working
class. By referring to research in at least one of the aspects mentioned above
we can easily see how social class can be both a source of identity and

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Social Class had
been presented by many researchers and theorists as a primary source of
identity, one of the great thinkers who presented such an idea was Karl Marx
who based his theory on a statement that social relations as well as activities
that humans engage in transform the real world. For him, that was the main
argument why humans should be perceived as social beings. He indicates that it
would not be possible for humans to survive in a world and have their needs met
if it wasn’t for the power of transformation generated by the social activity,
especially social labour. The level of productive power required to change the
natural world could never be generated individually, for Marx it is only in
Capitalistic society, where individuals are separated from the means of
production when these become owned as private property. Capitalism is a society
of the most advanced social relations and socially developed productive forces:
it is the type of relations that exist in the isolated individuals of
capitalism who are still social beings, their personalities developed within
capitalist social relations.

Lucien Save takes as the starting point for his
psychology of personality this notion of humans as necessarily connected
through relations that transform the real. For Save, the development of the
personal capacities of each social individual takes place within productive
activity organized by the division of labour. Each person can only develop to
the level of the productive forces created in society, for these constitute the
social heritage which individuals appropriate in their personal development. It
is not through the gene that people inherit the talents necessary to the
continued existence of humanity: instead, these are handed down and transformed
from generation to generation through social relations. What is essential to
humans, then is not located in each separate individual, but in the social and
historical heritage through which individuals develop as personalities. Save,
then, takes a decisive step in the direction we are following here, by
theorizing social relations as primary in the study of individuals. He inverts
the traditional view of the relationship between individuals and society: it is
not the individual, but social relations which are the basis for the real-life
processes in which personalities develop. However, this view has its roots
firmly planted in the theories of Marx. By being born into a specific social
class and engaging within this group, our identity is created


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