How Does Class Influence Identity In Contemporary Society?

892 words - 4 pages

How does class influence identity in contemporary society?The class structure involves some degree of shaping our identities. Income and paid work are important sources of individual and collective identity. Social class is a means of classifying the economic and social divisions of a society, which involve some degree of inequality. For example classifying some people as ‘poor’, ‘working class’ or ‘middle class’. We may adopt or contest these representations.People define their economic position through ideas about the incomes and opportunities of others, therefore identities are influenced by income, whether we imagine people’s incomes to be in the middle ...view middle of the document...

For Marx, the key factor is private ownership of economic resources.Max Weber’s theory saw class as important when forming an identity. Weber saw class as a group of individuals who have certain interests in common; this is known as market position, for example having similar opportunities for earning income through work or trade. Weber recognised that status is also important within social groups. Status is the different amounts of prestige, honour or social standing that is attached to different social groups. So where we live, manner of speech, our schooling and leisure habits decide our social class. This would suggest maybe status could have as much influence on identity as class. Weber’s theories would suggest that although, like Marx, agreed that different classes exist, Status was the key factor in deciding our identities and which group we belong to.Class is becoming more diverse with wider reference points within the structures. Some sociologists have gone as far as to say ‘class is dead’; (Pakulski and Waters, 1996), although a survey in 1996 showed that two thirds of those interviewed felt that ‘there is one law for the rich and one for the poor’ (Adonis and Pollard, 1998, p.11)Sociologists and political scientists have argued that there has been a shift from collective to individual identities and also a shift from occupation to consumption patterns. It was argued that well paid ‘working class’ were adopting ‘middle class’ values, therefore eroding class identity.A study at Vauxhall’s Luton car plant (Goldthorpe et al., 1969),...

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