Social class refers to a group of people or set of individuals that share similar social features or characteristics, particularly socio-economic position, educational achievements, properties and business establishments accumulated, structure of housing or living conditions, and such. Society is divided or classified through social stratification which establishes order or hierarchy in terms of the wealth or power, educational levels, and other standards or guidelines that characterize the commonality and shared experiences between individuals. The establishment of social classes is influenced by various factors which either support or delineate the position or situation of an individual. For instance, single parents are more likely to be categorized under low or middle income populations due to the limitations when it comes to the accumulation of household income as compared with married individuals who provide for their family. With this in mind, social class therefore is determined by structure of society. (Giddens & Griffiths, 2006)
Although social stratification and social class might be regarded as simply the act of categorizing or classifying the people into groups or classes according to their socio-economic standing, educational accomplishments, housing conditions, and such, the act of social stratification establishes issues or problems that might affect society. Labeling society according to specific positions or standings frames implications that societal problems also vary in gravity due to the established differences. (Maguire, 2003) With this in mind, the remainder of this text will look into various problems developed as consequences of social class and stratification.
For one, the socio-economic position of an individual or family involves the quality of education that one may obtain. Obtaining quality education is not easy task or responsibility. It does not only require self-interest and motivation to finish primary and secondary school and obtain a degree by finishing college, or the support of family and friends as external motivation to continue studying. Quality education also requires that the parents are able to pay for all the expenses that come along with it, from tuition fees and miscellaneous fees, to study resources such as books and encyclopedia, a computer and an internet connection, library memberships, field trips or excursions, and such. The availability of financial resources is highly important to ensure that children obtain high standards or quality of education from primary education to university life. However, if parents are not able to provide the amount of resources needed to secure the education of their children, then naturally, the quality of education that their children are able to receive does not meet high standards or guidelines of academic experiences. They might be forced to take jobs in order to fund their schooling but at the same time take away the much-needed time to focus on learning or studying. In this case, the socio-economic position of individuals or families influences the quality of education that they will be receiving.
Housing conditions, on the other hand, influence the kind or quality of family life within the home. Housing conditions refer to the location and structure of a house. This means that the kind of community wherein one lives and the structure of the house are contributive forces influencing family life. A family living in a community that is safe and orderly will have peace of mind, enjoying the time spent within the home for family bonding. However, if a family lives within a community where crimes always occur, then it will cause fear and anxiety affecting their ability to enjoy family life at home. Moreover, the kind of house that one lives in also influences family life. If a house offers enough space for members of the family to enjoy their privacy, it promotes harmony and respect toward other members of the family. On the other hand, limited spaces in small houses cause chaos and disorderliness.
The occupation of an individual, on the other hand, influences the kind or quality of health care services that he will be able to receive, particularly in the kind of health care system that exists in the country. The kind of health care services that one is able to obtain is based on the amount that an individual can pay for health insurance depending on his job salary. Sometimes, employers share the responsibility of healthcare insurance with their employees, especially for high-paying jobs or prestigious organizations. This means that occupation influences the quality of healthcare services that one may receive once needed. From this example, we see that the situation is most unfortunate for individuals who are unemployed since they do not have enough resources to pay for healthcare services and insurances.
Giddens, A. & Griffiths, S. (2006). Sociology. Cambridge, UK: Polity.
Maguire, K. (2003). Social Class. Retrieved January 23, 2009, from Medgraphics. Website: http://www.ucel.ac.uk/shield/docs/notes_class.pdf