Class is defined through wealth, income, education and occupation, which would then be filtered down to manners, language and grooming. These are not established through legal and religious structures and form an inevitable hierarchy. A hierarchy contains many levels of power and its is an example of ranking and organization. It is seen as a pyramid, the higher it gets the less room there is at the top. There are no restrictions on what class a person is or can be. A process know as Social mobility enables anyone, in theory, in society to move up and down the class ladder with opportunities and choices.
Through the early 1960’s it was first suggested that working class was an important and relevant class to be a part of as the middle class would not succeed without them. The two classes depend on each other and a functionalist view would be a society, which works as a system, with different parts, doing different things but ultimately all working together. This period saw the beginning of many more opportunities through the industrial revolution. Women were allowed to work, which allowed there to be a joint income with partners.
So where as before the war a women would rely on the husbands wage they now have the ability to some extent to earn two wages. Even though this would break the norm in society of women staying home they would move up the class ladder with a better income, which would gain them more options. The class structure began to expand from two main groups to three, Not just the unemployed, and the working but there was now upper class aswell. Through historical evidence and the influence through the media we actually learn and define similarities and differences within class groups.
The media are our main source of communication and information. The media are used in very powerful ways. Before the war women would only see women through the media as housewives and mothers. Then during the war the propaganda was changed to persuade women to want to work and to make it a norm. Today we see women through the media doing high-powered jobs and having well paid careers. This is a norm within our class structure today.
These influences which are projected by the media are then followed by labeling and the self-fulfilling prophecy. If general working class people are labeled as trouble this will effect all working class people. Therefore many people will live up to their expectations. Middle class people have had higher expectations set for them such as good education and middle class jobs therefore could live up to them too. Two theories, which were developed and elaborated by Marx and Weber, have illustrated their views on class. Marx tries to show at the time he was studying there were two main groups.
Industrialists and the capitalists also know as the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. These were the ruling class and the working class. Marx always said there would be inevitable conflict between the class groups yet they depended on each other and said the conflict would produce social change. Weber had similar arguments, which were initiated from Marx’s unfinished works. Weber saw three main dimensions in society, class, status and party. Class was formed on economic factors where as status was from esteem and social honour.
Party is active mobilizing of groups to secure define ends. Social stratification has multiple and overlapping dimensions and complex relationships. Both Weber and Marx both base their theories on class are based on economic structures. This shows class is an important point in contemporary society. Class is how we “explain and justify” ourselves. (Woodward, 2000, p109) It is one of the main influences on our identity however there are, many more which are factors, which include Gender, ethnicity and culture.
Today the focus is on eroding class divisions. The emphasis is on giving benefits to people who have not had the same life chances as other people. They offer economical support to people who are less fortunate and they are provided by a political structure. Professor Macrae along with many more sociologists suggest “Britain is a classless society” due to equal opportunities and meritocracy. Today whether a person is unemployed, working class, middle class or upper class they have a lot of the same opportunities. (O’Donnell, 1994, p129)