Social class in the United States

Social class in the United States refers to the idea of grouping Americans by some measure of social status, typically economic. However, it could also refer to social status or location.[1] The idea that American society can be divided into social classes is disputed, and there are many competing class systems.[2]

Douglas Tilden's monument to the working and supporting classes along Market Street in the heart of San Francisco's Financial District

Many Americans believe in a social class system that has three different groups or classes: the American rich, the American middle class, and the American poor. More complex models propose as many as a dozen class levels, including levels such as high upper class, upper class, upper middle class, middle class, lower middle class, lower class and lower lower middle class. [3][4] while others disagree with the American construct of social class completely.[5] Most definitions of a class structure group its members according to wealth, income, education, type of occupation, and membership within a hierarchy, specific subculture, or social network. Most concepts of American social class do not focus on race or ethnicity as a characteristic within the stratification system, although these factors are closely related.[6]

Sociologists Dennis Gilbert, William Thompson, Joseph Hickey, and James Henslin have proposed class systems with six distinct social classes. These class models feature an upper or capitalist class consisting of the rich and powerful, an upper middle class consisting of highly educated and affluent professionals, a middle class consisting of college-educated individuals employed in white-collar industries, a lower middle class composed of semi-professionals with typically some college education, a working class constituted by clerical and blue collar workers whose work is highly routinized, and a lower class divided between the working poor and the unemployed underclass.[3][7][8]


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