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Assignment: Media Write Up on Social Stratification and Social Class in America

Assignment: Media Write Up on Social Stratification and Social Class in America


Fundamentally, there is a consensus among sociologists that the United States as a society is stratified into different social classes depending on wealth, occupation, and education. Essentially, the idea of social classes connotes the categorization of individuals in a hierarchy, mostly based on wealth, educational level, career, income, and membership in a social network. However, the idea of social classes has been a contentious issue in America attracting varied definitions, models, and controversies about its reality. While some social scientists believe in the predominant model that consisted of the three classes namely the rich, the middle class, and the poor, currently, more intricate models are emerging to include many class levels other than the predominant three. In a nutshell, however, the social scientists concur that American society is stratified in a social class structure where people are ranked in a hierarchy. However, despite the controversial nature of the idea of social class, it has been established that social classes have important implication in human life such as effects on health, values, politics and family life among others.

Overall, the evaluation of income trends in America indicates that US society is significantly stratified leading to an increase in income inequality in recent decades. As a result, the wealthiest individuals end up getting the most share of overall income. Primarily, social inequality is attributed to different dimensions including income, power, wealth, and career prestige. In particular, wealth is distributed unequally than income where the top richest families that constitute 20% of the families own approximately 89% of the US wealth. It is reported that by the year 2010, the average family wealth fallen to extreme levels leading to dire situations where about 40% of the lowest level families have little or no wealth. On the other hand, the dimension of power connotes the ability to exercise control even during the rebellion. Wealth is highly associated with power. On the other side, career prestige is mostly attributed to job-related status.  Schooling is related to better career opportunities and it also affects the income and profession.

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The social classes are generally ranked into the upper class, middle class, working-class, and lower class. Regarding the upper class, they are further categorized into the upper-upper class, whose membership is anchored on ascription. This class enjoys ‘old money’ that is traced to the wealth accumulated by the family over time. They mostly dedicate their time to community activities. The lower-uppers, on the other hand, are the working rich with the ‘new money’ obtained from their investments and not family wealth.

Assignment Media Write Up on Social Stratification and Social Class in America

Assignment Media Write Up on Social Stratification and Social Class in America

The middle class is categorized into upper middles, average middle, and lower middles. The upper middles are those that have an annual income of between $116,000 and $205,000. This category values education and occupational prestige. They are highly involved in local politics. The average middles on their side are less concerned with career prestige and mostly engage in white-collar or high-skilled blue-collar jobs. Their annual income ranges from $50,000 to $112,000. Conversely, the lower middle class are people who depend on routine jobs with less satisfaction and they are exposed to financial constraints due to unemployment or illness. The last classification involves the lower class. This class consists of about 12.5% of the Americans who are regarded as poor. About 70% of this class completes high school and nearly 15% go to college. The majority of them have homes in less desirable urban neighborhoods or rural settings. Others are working with minimum wage jobs.

Imperatively, of the greatest importance is the determination of difference the social class makes. Essentially, social stratification is a crucial determinant of an individual’s health, family life, values, politics, and attitudes. Regarding the health of a person, the high-income class is likely to report good health compared to the low-income class. Besides, the quality and sufficiency of required medical care depend on income level. On the other hand, the attitudes and values vary with the position in the social class. The politics on the other hand often trail complex patterns along class lines. The higher class tend to be conformists of economic concerns and liberal on social issues; however, they are more politically engaged. Contrarily, the lower class tend to be more liberal on economic issues and highly conservative on social issues. They are less politically engaged and generally have lower voting records. Social class also makes a difference in family and gender by shaping family life. In most cases, class ensures conformity to traditional family norms in lower-class families while in families from higher social standings, there are varying social capital and different parenting styles and expectations from children. Likewise, gender role tasks are more firm in lower-class families compared to higher-class families.

Having looked at the social different social classes and their implications on individuals, it is appropriate to consider the effects of the economy on the class structure. In the US, investments are mostly possible for people with financial capabilities. For the working class, attempts to downsize in companies have far-reaching effects on average workers. Regarding the prevalence of poverty in the US, the social stratification has established “the haves” and the “have not” and approximately 15% of the entire US population is reported to be poor. The poverty is highly widespread and the poverty line has reached almost thrice of what the government projects people spend on food. For the average poor family, the income is about 59% of the stated amount. Considering the demographics of poverty, the majority of poor people in the US are youths aged 24 years and below and the elderly at 48% and 7.8% respectively. In terms of race and ethnicity, about two-thirds of the poor are whites. Besides, nearly 27.6% of African Americans and 25.3% of Hispanics are poor. Based on gender, women constitute about 59% of poor people. This condition is increased among single mothers and women who head households. In consideration of urban and rural poverty, the central cities contain about 20% of poverty. The majority of poor people dwell in rural communities. In attempts to explain poverty, the poor themselves are blamed for their state since everyone is responsible for his or her poverty. The society is also blamed for providing little opportunity for work. However, the best way of addressing poverty is to have significant job supply and childcare for employed parents. The economy has also affected the social class by increasing the number of homeless people and the working poor.

Considering the merit and caste of stratification, it has been established that ancestry can determine social class since being born in a privileged or poor family can affect career, schooling, and income. Besides, the vast health possessed by the rich is inherited, while the inherited poverty tends to shape the future of millions of people. On the other side, race and ethnicity are associated with social position. Likewise, gender also plays a role in class structure as women are linked with poverty than men. In short, however, through social mobility, it is possible to change the current class. That is, the individuals who are willing to work hard can gain economic security and enhanced social standing over time.

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