WHY from extreme wealth to life ending poverty.

WHY DOES CLASS MATTER?

 

 

Student ID: 4312902

“Class is something beneath
your clothes, under your skin, in your reflexes, in your psyche, at the very
core of your being” (Annette Kuhn, 1995). As rightly said by Annette Kuhn
class is something that is all around us and has been all around us since times
immemorial. Class refers to a group of people sharing a similar status, power
and amount of wealth. People belonging to the same class have a very similar
influence on the society and the people around them. Classes in the society are
mostly unequal and people are divided on the amount of economic wealth that
they possess. There have been occurrences of most exceptional inequalities, that
range from extreme wealth to life ending poverty. Where the people with the
most wealth mostly belong to the upper classes and the ones that are not that
high on the economic ladder stand very low on the social ladder as well. Class
has various stigmas attached to it. For example, people that belong to a
certain class are expected to do certain jobs that are just meant for them
which the other classes cannot do.

 

Class
matters because it helps everyone in knowing a lot about the society in
relation to the socio-economic status of the citizens and the kind of
historical background that the ones belonging to the same class share. Social
class is usually regarded as something, which makes people of higher classes
and wealth, feel superior and proud about their standing in the society. In
order to study or know something it is extremely important to have some basic
knowledge about different classes and how they function because it gives a
glimpse of history and how everything evolved, became how it is now and, how it
will be in the future. The functioning of the society is based on different
classes and their economic status. As the everyday activities change, people keep
the existence and working of class in mind, due to the kind of influence that
it has on day to day living.  Social
status and power conflicts are at the heart of current societal conflicts
present in the world today. Social status is the degree of prestige linked to a
persons’ societal position.

Different classes have been struggling and have
struggled since a very long time now, in order to achieve an equal status and
equal opportunities. There have been a lot of positive and negative changes in
the society because of class struggles. Some societies in the world can be
identified that ascribe all its citizens to be of equal status, however most
societies prevalent today function in the realms of some sort of social
hierarchy, where some individuals are stronger, whilst some remain weaker. This
inequality usually seeps into the norms of society through various institutions
and structural components, that allows this dominant and submissive behaviour
to exist. Often roles in other spheres of influence are also prescribed in
accordance to class differences and in reference to what different cultures and
different societies deem valuable. In
several instances, the inequality that is present in society is so grave, that
people go along with it without any awareness, however ever so often, instances
do arise where the society discovered the horror of class differences and
resists leading to social conflicts. A great example to explain this is “The
Manifesto of The Communist Party” by Karl Marx. Karl Marx hoped that the
distinction between various classes could be reduced and communism would
prevail in the future, where the bourgeois and the proletarians would have
equal opportunities and rights to citizenship. He wished that the proletarians
would rise up against and overthrow the bourgeois and put an end to the modern
capitalism for which he had even called for a workers’ revolution. However, to
his despair the revolution occurred in countries such as China and Russia but
not industrialised countries such as the Britain and Germany where the
intensity was much more. Ironically, the horrors of class struggle have been
used over the years to minimise and tapper conflict over the distribution of
scarce goods and services present in the society. Therefore, for a lot of goods
and services the only contestable strata remain the one that possess immense
power, and their power is usually not challenged. The proletarians according to
Marx did not have much to lose anyway and had a lot to gain over the years to
come. Each citizen and member of a society had different views on class and
communism. For instance, the Utopian communists and socialists wanted to
abolish class conflicts without abolishing the conditions for existence of
different classes. All of this has led to distinctions in the society which are
there in this day and age as well.

Class can never be ignored because the
mere existence of some countries and the grounds for citizenship is based on
this. It is extremely difficult to abolish a system which has been come into
being since ages. The intensity with which classes came into being and became a
part of the society is a major region behind why they still matter so much in
the different nations and across the world. In many places, class is not
something which is achieved by people, it is something you are born into. One
needs to follow the unwritten rules and beliefs set up by others. People kept
believing what they were told by the Priests, Kings, rich people and those that
possessed a lot of power in the society, who most of the times said things
which would help them remain in power. India being one of the biggest example,
where common sense knowledge and illiteracy created a major impact on all three
classes, upper, middle and lower (termed as Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and
Shudras, ranked from upper to lower class). The country can be best understood
with regards to caste and class. The lower classes were mostly illiterate and
lacked the means of basic livelihood. They were denied rights to citizenship
and treated with utmost disrespect and disregard. But their struggles led to
many provisions and changes which are now even recognised and support by the
government of India. Everyone at least on paper is treated equally, with a few
special reservations for the lower classes, so that they get the treatment that
they deserve, especially when it comes to jobs and rights to education. This
shows how different societies function just on the bases of class and caste
till date.

The inequalities created by class have
had profound impacts on the day to day working of the rich and the poor. Some
inequalities are also based on gender and age. For instance, the women and
children of lower classes were not treated differently than the men of the same
classes, for them the treatment was even worse. Therefore, it is important to
know about class and its distinction, then and now. Class has led to many
changes in the society, which are both negative and positive. It is extremely
important to keep class in mind to study about any society because it holds
relevance in almost all societies and situations.

 

There are a lot of differences between
the different classes which have led to a wide gap between them, the gap has
become so wide that it is difficult to bridge it. It is possible with the rapid
growth of intellectuals and basic education which is now accessible to many
people. The process towards receiving an equal citizenship and status is
ongoing and requires a lot of patience. The thinking of the older and new
generations is quite different from each other, which will make it easier for
the lower classes to achieve what they deserve. H.R. Markus said that “As
the world continues to shrink, it is more important than ever that we
understand the subjective nature of such cultural dichotomies” (H.R.
Markus, 2014) Class allows us to understand and perceive the dichotomies
that exist in the society today. class surrounds the ideas and the values that
we stem and grow in thereby affecting the all spheres of influence that we
as human beings function such as interactions in the social, economical,
and political institutions. It makes us realise differences in the
society are not immutable however relevant and essential in the way that
we function.

 

Word Count: 1396

 

References:

·            
Anon. (2010). Education, Economics and Enterprise: ‘What’s Social
Class got to do with it?’ Bristol: University of Bristol.

·            
DeAngelis, T. (2015). Class Differences. New York: American
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·            
Fiske, S. &
Markus, H. R. (2012). Facing social class: How societal rank influences interaction. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

·            
Jackopovich, D. (2014). The Concept of Class. Cambridge: SSRG
Publications.

·            
Kuhn, A. (1995). Family secrets: Acts of memory and
imagination. London: Verso.

·            
Leathwood, C., & Archer, L. (2004). ‘Social Class and
Educational Inequalities: the local and the global’. Pedagogy, culture and
Society. United Kingdom: London Metropolitan University.

·            
Markus, H. R.,
& Conner, A. C. (2014). Clash!
How to Thrive in a Multicultural World. New York: Plume. 

·            
Marx, K., Engels, F., Moore, S., & McLellan, D. (1992). The
Communist manifesto. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

·            
Sayer, A. (2002). What are You Worth: Why is Class an Embarrassing
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·            
Wilkinson,
Richard G. & Pickett, Kate. (2010) The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better
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