Dr. Rodriguez

Introduction to Sociology

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Unit 3 Lecture 6 Notes
Unit 3 Lecture 6: Social Classes

The Weberian model of the U.S. Class Structure

The Upper (or capitalist class)

  • 1% of the population

  • Members own substantial income-producing assets

  • Operate at the national and international levels

  • Upper-upper (?old money?)/Lower Upper (?new money)

  • Members usually belong to prominent families which posses great wealth held for several generations

  • Members belong to exclusive clubs and support high culture

The Upper-Middle Class

  • About 14% of the population
  • Highly educated professionals (e.g., physicians, attorneys, stockbrokers, or corporate managers)

  • Some derive their income from family-owned businesses

  • Three factors combined qualifies people for the upper-middle class: university degree, authority and independence on the job, and high income.

  • Of all social classes, the upper-middle class is most shaped by formal education

The Middle Class:

  • About 30% of the population

  • In the past a high-school diploma was necessary to qualify for middle-class jobs; today a two-year or four-year college degree is increasingly necessary.

  • Examples of middle-class jobs: medical technicians, nurses, legal and medical secretaries, lower-level managers, semi-professionals and non-retail sales persons.

  • In the past middle class membership meant the American Dream; today this dream is eroded by rising housing prices, occupational insecurity, blocked mobility on the job, and the rise of the cost of living (prices rise but the dollar loses value as well)

The Working Class

  • 30% of the U.S. population

  • mainly semiskilled machine operators

  • construction workers

  • routine mechanized work in the service sector

  • pink-collar occupation (low-paying, semiskilled positions)

  • working class families earn less than middle class and have less financial security

  • few people in working class have more than high school education

The Working Poor

  • 20% of the U.S. population

  • life revolves around the poverty level

  • unskilled, part-time or low paid jobs

  • employed single mothers often belong to this class

  • African Americans and Latinos, more than non-Hispanic whites, are found in this subclass

  • life is from paycheck to paycheck

The Underclass

  • About 3% to 5% of the U.S. population

  • poor and seldom employed

  • long-term deprivation

  • problems associated with age, disability and discrimination

  • reliance on public assistance

  • chances that children will move out of poverty are 50-50