What is Social Class?

Meaning of Social Class

Social class is a term used to give the impression that there are significant social distances in society .

This means that individuals and groups are different from each other and occupy different places in society.

This is one of the central concepts in Sociology and therefore it is one of the most discussed and also one that ends up getting more different definitions.

However, sociologically, one cannot speak of social classes without pointing out the existence of unequal relations between them.

In practice, this means that there is always a relationship of domination between one class and another. The difference in the possibility of access to political power, economic power, cultural assets, education and other prestige valued in our society, marks the difference between social classes .

Strictly speaking, we can say that social classes only exist and can only be understood within their relational character.

This means that one class exists only in relation to another, in the same way that a city cannot be said to be far away without having a point of reference to tell what is near.

Therefore, one cannot speak, for example, of a ” ruling class ” without the existence of a ” dominated class “.

Society itself can only be understood as a tangle of relationships , where one thing exists only in relation to another.

Furthermore, social classes are made up of groups, families and individuals, but they exist independently of their wishes, even though it influences the way these groups and subjects think and how they act in society.

If the notion of social class serves mainly to mark the real distances and inequalities that exist between the different parts of society, it also encompasses an idea of ​​conflict of interests.

It is in Marxist thought that these clashes were best explored as a central theme for understanding modernity.

For Marx and Engels, the history of all societies is the history of these fundamental conflicts, which they call class struggle.

According to this logic, to understand history it would be necessary to investigate how, at different times, the more and less privileged classes clashed to guarantee their interests.

For Marxist thought , in the modern era, which began after industrialization and the establishment of capitalism, this struggle takes place mainly between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat .

The ruling class of an era, according to Marxist thought, in order to control the economy, also controls all other aspects of social life, dominating the political and legal apparatus and exercising its dominance in the field of ideas, that is, defining the hegemonic ideology.

Between the two extreme poles, composed of dominant and dominated , we find intermediate levels, where one finds what some call the middle class .

The definition of what the middle class is and how it behaves is also a major topic of debate in Sociology, and in some contexts its very definition may be the subject of political dispute.

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