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Socioeconomic Class

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Socioeconomic class


The definition of socioeconomic status is the position of an individual or group on the socioeconomic scale. This scale is determined by factors such as income, amount and kind of education, type and prestige of occupation, place of residence, and in some societies – ethnic origin or religious background. The categorisation of people based on their economic position within society describes class. Typically the higher one’s class is, the more power, status and influence they have in an economy.  Class can also be defined by an individual’s social and cultural position and interests which means their interests, music they listen, what newspapers are read and what television shows are watched. The status an individual has in society also affects class which includes the status of the people you know and are associated with such as family, friends and business employees. Socioeconomic status is a method of describing an individual based on their education, income and type of job.


Upper, Middle, and Lower Class


The upper class are those in society who are wealthiest and most powerful, which are typically the very top percentage of the population. The upper class is connected to politics and also includes the aristocratic and nobility. The individuals that are in the upper class hold higher levels of disposable income and control over use of natural resources. The upper class disproportionately controls a large amount of the overall wealth despite making up a small percentage of the population. Historically the upper class had been dominated by landowning nobility and aristocrats. These individuals did not have to work for their living but instead inherited money or lived off investments. 


The middle class includes individuals who work in high status, secure and stable jobs and typically own their own homes. The middle class falls between the working and upper class in the socio-economic hierarchy. Typically in Western cultures the middle class have a higher proportion of college degrees than the working class and more available income for consumption. The middle class typically own their own homes, a car, send their children to college and are saving for retirement. The middle class are also able to afford luxuries like dining out and holidays through their disposable savings. However the middle class could also be living paycheck to paycheck. In modern society the term has shifted to upper-middle and lower-middle class as a result of the increased stratification between the upper and lower classes.


The lower class, also referred to as the working class, are those who have to work in order to survive and dont have much saved and could be in debt. The lower class have low wages and insecure jobs. Individuals with lower socioeconomic status typically don’t have access to or less access to the financial, education, social, and health resources that those with a higher socioeconomic status have. The lower class belong to the lowest position within society and have the least amount of money. The working class consists of jobs that provide low pay and require limited skill or physical labour. In addition to this the working classes education requirements are reduced. The working class also includes individuals who are unemployed or supported by welfare programmes. 


Social Economics 


Social economics is the social science and branch of economics that targets the relationship between social behaviour and economics. This is the interplay between social process and economic activities within a society. Socioeconomics can begin to explain the actions and how different social groups or classes act within society. Socio economics theories can sometimes be derived from conventional economic theories which considers factors such as the effects of the environment and ecology in consumption and wealth. A socioeconomic class describes a group of people whom have similar characteristics that could include social and economic standing, level of education, current profession, and ethnic background or heritage. Priorities on how funds are directed, and whether certain goods or services can be afforded due to income limitations are dictated by the different socioeconomic classes. These goods and services consist of medical care, educational opportunities, the ability to buy food that meets specific nutritional guidelines. 


Two perspectives within social economics are pioneered by Nobelist Gary Becker and the other applies to social sciences. Nobelist Gary Becker applies basic theoretical and tools of neoclassical microeconomics to areas of human behaviour. These areas are crime, punishment, drug abuse, marriage, and family decisions which are considered part of the economic sciences. The next perspective is one retained to the ideas of other social sciences such as sociology, psychology, and identity group studies. Identity group studies are towards subjects of an economic nature such as consumer behaviour or labour markets. Those who practise social economics use history, current events, politics, and other social sciences to predict social trends that could somehow impact the economy. 


Socioeconomic factors have the ability to reveal inequalities around wealth, education, or status and can play a role within an individual’s decisions in regards to their career or family choices. Family structure such as parenting practices and childhood development holds strong correlation to socioeconomic status. In the cases of a single-parent household it is more likely for it to be low-income. Individuals with a lower socioeconomic status typically enter education with lower levels of reading, linguistic development and social skills. Which manifests itself into lower levels of academic success. Socioeconomic status is strongly correlated with membership in indigenous or other ethnic minorities, especially those which have historically suffered from discrimination. These group members tend to have higher levels of unemployment or substance abuse and poorer mental and physical health. Interpersonal violence has the ability to occur at any socioeconomic level. However, individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds have tendencies to have greater exposure to violence. Socioeconomic factors can also include educational levels, financial security, environmental factors, and subjective perceptions of social status and class. 

Standard of living 


The standard of living is a reference to a certain socioeconomic class’s wealth, comfort, material goods, and necessities. The standard of living refers to the quantity and quality of material goods and services available to a given population. Standard of living is focused on basic material factors that include income, gross domestic product, life expectancy, and economic opportunity. Standard of living is closely related to the quality of life which includes factors such as economic and political stability, political and religious freedom, environmental quality, climate, and safety. 



American Psychological Association. Socioeconomic status. Read on 18.3.2023. https://www.apa.org/topics/socioeconomic-status 


Cambridge Dictionary. Lower class. Read on 18.3.2023. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/lower-class 


Fontinelle, A. 2022. Standard of Living vs. Quality of Life: What’s the Difference? Updated on 27.5.2022. Read on 13.4.2023. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/financial-theory/08/standard-of-living-quality-of-life.asp 


Hayes, A. 2022. Middle Class: Definition and Characteristics. Updated on 15.3.2022. Read on 19.3.2023. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/middle-class.asp 


Kenton, W. 2021. Upper Class: Definition, Salary, Example, and Other Social Classes. Updated on 30.7.2021. Read on 19.3.2023. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/u/upper-class.asp 


Kenton, W. 2021. Working Class Explained: Definition, Compensation, Job Examples. Updated on 21.3.2021. Read on 19.3.2023. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/w/working-class.asp


National Cancer institute. Socioeconomic status. Read on 18.3.2023. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/socioeconomic-status 


Our economy. Socio-economic class: How do we define class?. Read on 18.3.2023.https://www.ecnmy.org/learn/your-society/status-in-society/socio-economic-class/ 

Tarver, E. 2022. Social Economics. Updated on 17.6.2022. Read on 27.3.2023. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/social-economics.asp 


Team, T,I. 2022. Standard of Living Definition, How to Measure, Example. Updated 6.5.2022. Read on 13.4.2023. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/standard-of-living.asp 

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