Determinants of class position
This photo of two men on a street in New Orleans uses visual appearance to contrast the social class of two people: a man in casual, possibly work-soiled clothes (note hardhat), and a man with a briefcase in a suit and tie.
In so-called non-stratified societies or acephalous societies, there is no concept of social class, power, or hierarchy beyond temporary or limited social statuses. In such societies, every individual has a roughly equal social standing in most situations.
In class societies a person's class status is a type of group membership. Theorists disagree about the elements determining membership, but common features appear in many accounts. ...view middle of the document...
Which ethnicities are considered as belonging to high or low classes varies from society to society. In modern societies strict legal links between ethnicity and class have been drawn, such as in apartheid, the Caste system in Africa, and in the position of the Burakumin in Japanese society.
A distinction often made is that of Ascribed status versus Achieved status. This deals with difference between obtained class identification, and whether social standing is determined at birth or earned over a lifetime. Achieved statuses are acquired based on merit, skills, abilities, and actions. Examples of achieved status include being a doctor or even being a criminal—the status then determines a set of behaviors and expectations for the individual.
Consequences of class position
Different consumption of social goods is the most visible consequence of class. In modern societies, it manifests as income inequality, though in subsistence societies it manifested as malnutrition and periodic starvation. Although class status is not a causal factor for income, there is consistent data that show those in higher classes have higher incomes than those in lower classes. This inequality still...