Social class refers to the divisions within the society that are based on the economic status of an individual. It has also been described as the level in which people grade you depending on your financial achievements. The main social classes are; High class, middle class, working class and lower class. People move through these classes in different ways (Marshall, 1950). However this movement is not just restricted to individuals. Households and even groups also move between the classes. This kind of movement is commonly known as social mobility.
Social mobility takes different patterns. These patterns are discussed as follows:
Horizontal mobility:-this occurs when an individual moves through the same status even though they have changed their work position, for example, a manager who leaves his position at company A to work in company B in the same position.
Vertical mobility:-this involves an individual moving between the different social strata to an upper class or lower. A promotion will make an individual move up while a demotion would make one move down the social class.
Intragenerational mobility:-this mainly deals with the movements that come about due to ones career. If an individual gets regular promotions that lead to increased remuneration then he would move to higher social classes.
Intergenerational mobility:-this is a change that occurs across generation, one may be from a poor family but due to his academic achievement, he changes the social class of generation after him. A person from a poor family who manages to achieve status of a registered lawyer would have change the social class of his and the coming generations.
Some instances can cause the whole society to move between these classes. In such cases, the term structural mobility is used to describe the movement. In developed countries such as the United States of America, some factors such as the high industrialization levels, affordability and access to high education levels and the computer era have enabled many people to improve the status and move high on the social classes than the generations before them.
These areas still experience individual mobility as not everyone will be able to take advantage of the available resources to better their lives. Some characteristics such as ones ethnicity, level of education, gender, residence, the profession and even total well-being of an individual still major roles in determining the movement of an individual up the social classes.
Social class has destabilized the American culture since a person’s social class determines some of the experiences or consequences they would have to go through in their life time. Social class also defines the opportunities that are available to a person. The people in the upper class have access to better things in life including better healthcare, marriage to people in high social classes. They go to very prestigious schools that other classes cannot afford. They even tend to be heard more than the people from other classes when it comes to politics.
The people in high class have memberships to very influential networks and they know more influential people in the society. This gives upper hand when it comes to seeking employment and even leniency from security personnel who tend to favor them. As Kimberly moffit once said, social equalities have adverse effects on almost every aspects of life. People from lower class have been found to suffer from so many complications and tend to die faster when sick.
As Wilkinson said, many social problems are so bad in the cultures where there are bigger differences in the social classes. The mentioned problems range from sicknesses, violence, low academic performance and even lower level of trust .big inequalities in terms of the income between the low class and the high class has increased the impacts of the social class on Americans. This has been attributed as one of the reasons why some people engage in violence just because they feel rejected.
Inequality has also been said to be destroying society. Huge income disparities which are been observed have had negative effects on social mobility. This means that some individuals continue to suffer in the same social class they were born in until they leave this world.
When looking at ways in which social class has destabilize the culture, one has to look at the various aspects of culture like lifestyles, behaviors, dialects and small cultures within a main culture. Upper class people live a different life from lower class people. They attend so many meetings yet these same meeting alienates them from being together with their families. The relationships get weaker and some children end up suffering as they do not get the parental attention that is very important for them to grow well in all aspects of growth.
Behaviors also change among people from different social classes. Children from lower classes have been said to behave more childishly than children from high class families. These children from high class families are exposed to various experiences in school which make them mature faster in their thinking. Children from poor families are even forced in some cases to attend schools with few trained teachers since their parents cannot afford to take them to other schools.
Social class sometimes affects the level of education an individual can attain. This is mainly due to the lack of funds to further their education past the basic level. It may also be from the fact that these children lack proper foundation in their pre-schools hence find it rough in class and they end up de motivated to pursue their education further.
Marshall, T. H. (1950). Citizenship and social class (Vol. 11, pp. 28-29). Cambridge.