Social Class

Posted: September 3rd, 2013





Social Class

The concept of social class is used to refer to hierarchy of status whereby members of the society are grouped according to prestige and esteem (Jackson 40). Social prestige and esteem is acquired through the accumulation of wealth. There are four common hierarchies of social classes. These hierarchies are the lower, working, middle and upper classes. The term social class finds its origin in the eighteenth century. In the British community, social class was used to refer to social groupings that were demarcated based on power, wealth and life style. Social class was defined based on inequality (Merton 61). In the contemporary society, social class is still a basis for inequality.

Themes from Observation

Themes surrounding the concept of social class are evident in the external and internal interactions of the members of society. Some of the themes that were evident from my observation were time scales of social class, obesity among the black Americans and multiculturalism. Social classes possess specific time scales (Gurvitch 88). One of the observations that I made was the fashion trend among the youth. This trend alludes to a particular social class as portrayed by celebrities in the media. The young members of the society strive to acquire the time scale of the social class held by celebrities. This explains why members of the society strive to get to the high classes. This is because the thriving classes have influential time scales that are eventually adopted by the rest of the society and the global system. Obesity has slowly found ground among the black American youth. This is evident in the relatively high number of young black Americans who are overweight. The observed number was higher than that registered for the Asians, Americans and Hispanic youth. The last theme that I identified during the visit was that of multiculturalism. This was evident in the fusion of different cultures. This was seen in people’s dressing styles. Society had adapted clothes that have their origin in Hispanic culture. Such clothes are like the ponchos. Different cuisines were also served in the restaurants I observed during my visit. These are signs of the accommodation of different cultures that are not indigenous in America. Race is one of the criteria that society uses to classify individuals in particular social classes.

Scales of Time for Social Classes

Gurvitch defines a social class as a grouping that is exclusive for particular members of the society (Gurvitch 87). This grouping maintains its cohesion through their ability to permeate the global society. Their unity is also dependent the predominance of the class’ culture. The predominance calls for a consciousness among the members of the class. According to Gurvitch, there are particular traits that are definite for every class in society. One of the traits is that the classes are open and membership is on a volunteer basis. However, the members must be able to meet the needed criteria. The social classes are also permanent and possess conditional restrains (Gurvitch 88).

The concept of social classes exhibits a multiplicity of scales of time (Gurvitch 88). This is the challenge that one faces when trying to put a framework on social classes. This is because, in itself, the aspect of social classes is a universe. This implies that social class is rich and wide to the point of overlapping the global society’s time. Society comprises of different groups in quests to master not only their time but also the times of other grouping in the society. These groups are like churches and states. However, when it comes to a social class, there is usually no attempt to master the time of the class. This is because of the consciousness that exists concerning their time (Gurvitch 88).

A rising class will have the effect of unconsciously imposing its time scale on other members of the society. This will then spark a reaction from the globe. The globe will abandon its timeline to embrace that of the rising class. The Marxian analysis explains the relationship that exists between the globe’s time line and that of the rising class. In the analysis, Marx expresses the global time line as being dependent on the social time line. The dependent relationship has encouraged Marx to make the two time lines identical (Gurvitch 87).

Obesity among Black Americans

The growing culture of consumption of large amounts of food and engaging in less active is being adapted by the society at a fast rate. The culture has given rise to various health issues like obesity. This is however more common among the black American society (Braithwaite, Ronald, Sandra & Henrie 89). More than two thirds of the Black American youth are overweight. This problem has been encouraged by the black American perspective of a normal body size. The black Americans believe that a larger body size is more desirable than a smaller one. This perspective is commonly held in regards to women.

A curvy woman is believed to appeal more to the black American man. This then exerts pressure on the black American community to gain weight. Slender women are constantly struggling to gain weight in order to fit in the society. Some members of the society consciously engage in unhealthy eating in order to attain this desired body size. This distorted perspective encourages obesity among the African American society. This disparity in body size is commonly used as the basis for discrimination and racism. This is because society uses observable features to classify individuals into various social classes.


Multiculturalism is a social aspect that deals with the accommodation of the cultures of minority groups in the society (Watson 55). Minority groups are often classified in society’s lower social classes. This then makes it difficult for their cultures to be recognized and accommodated. Society is experiencing a shift that is supporting multiculturalism. This is where minority cultures are being embraced and accommodated. This accommodation is seen in the fusion of cuisines and dressing styles by the members of the society.

Culture posses an aspect of pluralism. This implies that its existence has to be complimented by other cultures. A single culture is not sufficient to bring out an individual’s capabilities in totality. As much as a culture has its unique contribution to the development of individuals, there is a need for this culture to interact and borrow from other cultures. This interaction will allow an individual culture to widen its perspective concerning the issues in society.

Multiculturalism must see the integration of two aspects in society. One of these aspects is the incoherency of culture in man. Man is designed to live in a culturally structured society. Culture then shapes his life consciously and unconsciously. This then requires the cultures of individual’s to be accommodated to the extent that will allow the culture to mold lives. The other aspect is cultural dynamism. Culture is constantly growing because of various interactions with other cultures. This implies that the different cultures in a society must posses cohesion in order for growth to occur.


Work cited

Braithwaite, Ronald L, Sandra E. Taylor, and Henrie M. Treadwell. Health Issues in the Black Community. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2009. Print.

Gurvitch, Georges. The Spectrum of Social Time. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Pub. Co, 1964. Print.

Jackson, John A. Social Stratification. London: Cambridge U.P, 1968. Print.

Merton, Robert K. Social Theory and Social Structure. New York: Free Press, 1968. Print.

Watson, C. W. 2000. Multiculturalism. Buckingham: Open University Press.



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