Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
In its broadest sense, class refers to group inequalities based on economic attributes. The specific economic attributes used to define class vary by theoretical perspective, with some focusing on ownership or control of wealth-producing property, and others emphasizing material and cultural holdings, such as income, wealth, occupational prestige, and lifestyle. Class is thus a primary concept for analyzing social inequality and, as such, provides insight for almost all social problems. Class denotes both a social group and a social force. As a social group, class is researchers' categorization of people by the various economic attributes. Class as a social force refers to its micro- and macro-level patterned influences. Class shapes myriad inequalities experienced individually, such as those in health, health care, residence, vocabulary, speech, crime, criminal justice, education, employment, marriage, family life, and many more. It may also develop, in some, a sense of class identification that may create macro-level ...