Social Class.

Essay by melissacUniversity, Bachelor's November 2003

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Social class, also known as social stratification is defined as "the hierarchical arrangement of large social groups based on their control over basic resources" (qtd. in Kendall 236). Different social classes can be distinguished by inequalities in such areas as power, authority, and wealth, working and living conditions, lifestyles, life-span, education, religion, and culture. Early in the nineteenth century the labels "working classes" and "middle classes" were already coming into common usage. And the types of people who owed their success to commerce, industry, and other professional professions, evolved into what we call now the "upper class" people.

Social identity is the understanding of who we are, and reciprocally other people's understanding of themselves. Social identity is achieved through socialization within social groups and by placing themselves in the role of others, people, particularly children, gains a greater understanding of the role that they should play. Furthermore, social identity can be determined by the treatment of the rest of society.

One of the systems of social stratification is a system called a caste system. "A caste system is a system of social inequality in which people's status is permanently determined at birth based on their parents' ascribed characteristics" (Haskell 240). However, in South Africa caste systems were based on racial classifications, like the belief that white South Africans were morally superior to the black South Africans. However, a marriage in a caste system is "endogamous, meaning that people are allowed to marry only within their own group" (Haskell 240). For example in India, the parents pre-select the marriage partners for their children, this is done traditionally.

Another system of social stratification is a system called the class system. This system "is a type of stratification based on the ownership and control of resources and on the type of work people...