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Television: Social Class

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Eric Davis

on 5 December 2014

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Transcript of Television: Social Class

Social Class on Television
Life Chances

Opportunities people have to provide themselves with material goods, positive living conditions, and favorable life experiences
The Honeymooners 1950s
Material, Social, and Cultural Resources
Material resources
are economic resources we own or control
Social resources
are prestige based on position we occupy and social network connections
Cultural resources

are our 
tastes, language, and way of looking at the world
Status and Prestige
Ascribed Status

Social position assigned to a person without regard for that his or her unique talents or characteristics
Achieved Status
Social position attained by person largely through his or her own efforts
Status and Prestige
Socioeconomic Status (SES)

Measure of social class based on income, education, occupation, and related variables

Society often undervalues work (such as women’s unpaid work) that is essential for our individual and collective survival
The Beverly Hillbillies
Social Inequality
Condition in which members of society have different amounts of wealth, prestige, or power

Structured ranking of entire groups of people that perpetuates unequal economic rewards and power in a society

Class System
Social ranking based primarily on economic position

Five-class model used to describe U.S. class system:
Upper class
Upper-middle class
Lower-middle class
Working class
Lower class
Class does not totally define a person’s position within the stratification system


Group of people who have similar level of wealth and income
Group People who have the same prestige or lifestyle
Capacity to organize to accomplish some particular goal
Cultural Capital
Our tastes, knowledge, language, and ways of thinking that we exchange in interaction with others
Because culture is hierarchically valued, it is a form of power
People in different classes possess different types of cultural capital
Can be used as a form of exclusion
Passed down the same way as material capital

Respect and admiration that an occupation holds in society
Reputation that a specific person has earned within an occupation
Wages and salaries measured over some period, such as per hour or per year
Total of a person’s material assets, including savings, land, stocks, and other types of property, minus his or her debts at a single point in time
Income inequality
basic characteristic of a class system
In U.S. top 5% earns a significantly greater percent of total income than the bottom 40% combined
Marx on Class
Class Consciousness
subjective awareness of common vested interests and the need for collective political action to bring about change
Believed class consciousness would lead to the overthrow of capitalism
False Consciousness
Attitude held by members of a class that does not accurately reflect their objective position
Dominant Ideology
Set of cultural beliefs and practices that helps maintain status quo
Distributed more unevenly than income
Top 1% owns 33.8% of all wealth
Bottom 50% owns just 2.5%
Top 1% owns more than bottom 90% combined
In 2008, 13.2% of the population—lived in poverty
Absolute Poverty
Minimum level of subsistence that no family should be expected to live below
Relative Poverty
Floating standard of deprivation by which people at the bottom of a society are judged as being disadvantaged in comparison with the nation as a whole
Full transcript