Social Classicism in America- essay

Write an essay on the Social Classicism in America/ Class Structure in the U.S. (at least 2 pages, MLA formatted)


American society is stratified into social classes based on wealth, income, educational attainment, occupation, and social networks.

Key Points

  • There are competing models for thinking about social classes in the U.S. — most Americans recognize a three-tier structure that includes the upper, middle, and lower classes, but variations delineate an upper-middle class and a working class.
  • High-income earners likely are substantially educated, have high- status occupations, and maintain powerful social networks.
  • According to the “American Dream,” American society is meritocratic and class is achievement-based. In other words, one’s membership in a particular social class is based on educational and career accomplishments.

Key Terms

  • social network: The web of a person’s social, family, and business contacts, who provide material and social resources and opportunities.
  • The American Dream: The belief that with hard work, courage, and determination, anyone can prosper and achieve success.
  • Corporate Elite: A class of high-salaried stockholders, such as corporate CEOs, who do not necessarily have inherited privilege but have achieved high status through their careers.

Models of U.S. Social Classes

A team of sociologists recently posited that there are six social classes in America. In this model, the upper class (3% of the population ) is divided into upper-upper class (1% of the U.S. population, earning hundreds of millions to billions per year) and the lower-upper class (2%, earning millions per year). The middle class (40%) is divided into upper-middle class (14%, earning $76,000 or more per year) and the lower-middle class (26%, earning $46,000 to $75,000 per year). The working class (30%) earns $19,000 to $45,000 per year. The lower class (27%) is divided into working poor (13%, earning $9000 to 18,000 per year) and underclass (14%, earning under $9000 per year). This model has gained traction as a tool for thinking about social classes in America, but it does not fully account for variations in status based on non-economic factors, such as education and occupational prestige. This critique is somewhat mitigated by the fact that income is often closely aligned with other indicators of status; for example, those with high incomes likely have substantial education, high-status occupations, and powerful social networks.