Material Type:
Community College / Lower Division, College / Upper Division
Ohio Open Ed Collaborative
  • Social Class
  • Social Class Divisions
  • Sociology
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Media Formats:
    Downloadable docs, eBook, Text/HTML, Video

    Education Standards

    Explain how Sociologists measure social class and identify commonalities within key social class divisions


    OER Text material

    Social Class in the United States

    Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World- Chapter 8 Section 3

    This section begins by explaining the difference between measuring class objectively or subjectively.  A pie chart with 2008 GSS data is used to illustrate subjective measurement of social class. The section continues with a discussion of the American class structure and an overview of the major class divisions. Finally social mobility is discussed.  The objectives at the start of the section state that a functionalist and conflict theorist view of the American class structure is presented, however, there is only a slight mention of these perspectives in this chapter. This is not the section to use for a theoretical discussion of class. The concepts of status, status inconsistency and status symbol are not discussed in this textbook. Conspicuous consumption is addressed briefly in section 8.2, but many key terms related to social class are missing.

    What is Social Stratificiation? 

    Open Stax does provide a definition of status consistency, inconsistency and meritocracy.

    Supplementary Material (Videos and Reading)

    Classing Britain: Why Defining Social Status is so Difficult

    This is a short article in the Guardian that can be used to compare social class in the U.S. and Britain.  

    Defining the Middle Class: Cash, Credentials, or Culture?

    This 2018 article from the Brookings Institution provides an interesting discussion of what it means to be middle class, and in doing so discussed measures that can be used to determine one’s class. This is a bit longer reading that references current data.

    The Sociological Cinema: “Dr. Seuss Meets Bourdieu in the Sneetches”

    Professors visiting this link will be provided with a summary of how Bourdieu’s concepts related to class and taste can be applied to Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches.  Also provided is a link to a youtube video of the story.

    “‘Ugh, I’m So Busy’: A Status Symbol for Our Time”

    This is a great 2017 article from The Atlantic on how busyness can be used as a status symbol.


    Americans' Identification as Middle Class Edges Back Up

    This 2016 gallup poll article looks at the percent of American’s that identify as middle class.  This data overlaps with objectives 2 and 3.

    Six in 10 Americans Took a Vacation in 2017

    Interesting data from a gallup poll on who took a vacation in 2017. Could be used to discuss vacation as a status symbol.

    The Shrinking American Middle Class

    Based on Pew research from 2014 this data set illustrates the shrinking middle class with good commentary. May need to update fairly soon.