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

Education Standards (1)

Compare and contrast key theoretical perspectives on social class


OER Text material

Explaining Stratification

Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World Section 8.1 discusses differences in how Karl Marx and Max Weber viewed class societies. Section 8.2 provides a great discussion of theoretical perspectives on class. The section on functionalism includes an overview of Davis and Moore’s work. The conflict theory section includes a nice discussion of Marx and of false-consciousness. Instructors may want to supplement material on Weber.  The section on symbolic interactionism includes a discussion of conspicuous consumption. Chapter 8 does not discuss Bourdieu, cultural capital, or social capital. Instructors interested in the social reproduction of class should consider supplemental sources.

Theoretical Perspectives on Social Stratification - OpenStax

You could supplement with Open Stax section 9.4 as it provides a summary of how each major sociological paradigm (functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism) understands stratification. This includes a brief discussion of the Davis and Moore thesis. The conflict theory section only discusses Marx and not Weber. This section will be need to be supplemented with other sources.

Supplementary Material (Videos and Reading)

Social Reproduction (Video)

This video from Khan Academy describes social reproduction across generations. It discusses financial, social and cultural capital, but Bourdieu is not mentioned.

Class Consciousness and False Consciousness (Video)

This is a great four minute video from Khan Academy that explains class consciousness and false consciousness.

Sociology Live! Cultural Capital (Video)

An excellent 5 minute video that defines cultural capital, provides examples and explains the importance of cultural capital. The second half of the video may be too detailed for an introductory class.