Researchers generally agree that the population of the United States can be divided into the upper, middle, working and lower class. The following gives typical characteristics social class in the United States. It must be recognized, however, that not all individuals in a particular society hold the same values, attitudes, are beliefs. Moreover, a person who sees himself/herself as a member of one group may be seen by other as belonging to a different one. Following are the different types of social classes in the United States.
The Upper Class
The uppers class in United States characterized by its accumulation of wealth, influence in both the public and private sectors of society, small size, high income, high level of education, and stability of family life. Sociologists have divided it into two groups:
The Upper-Upper Class This consists of families with very “old” names (they have a long history of wealth and influence). Members are born into it. The family names generally associated with the upper-upper class include the Rockefellrs, Roosevelts, and Fords.
The Lower-Upper Class This consists of families with very “new’ names (they have acquired their wealth and influence more recently). Many members may actually have more highly valued material possessions and wealth than do members of the upper-upper class, but because they were not born into one of the “society” families, they do not generally attain upper-upper membership until they intermarry with members of that group.
The Middle Class
Since the turn of the century, the growth of industry and big business in the United States has been accompanied by corresponding need for administrative, managerial, and professional personal. The need has led to an increase in the number of people who hold middle class membership. We tend to think of United States as being a middle class society with associated same values and attitudes. Its characteristics are belief in the value of hard work, education, family life, and honesty. Following are the types of middle class:
The Upper-Middle Class is characterized by high income, high level of education, low level- of unemployment, and a high value placed on saving and planning for the future. Members of the upper-middle class are employed in professional or managerial positions, are politically active, and have a high level of participation in community activities.
The Lower-Middle Class This consists primarily of white-collar and clerical workers, small businessmen and businesswomen, sales representatives, teachers, and middle‑level management employees.
The values held by members of the upper-middle members are generally shared by those in the lower-middle class and its member value saving and planning for future needs, earn a moderate income and attempt to secure additional education beyond high school.
The Working Class
It is a sandwich class primarily of blue-collar and semiskilled workers who may be found in almost any business or industry. The vast amount of manual labor performed in the United States from work in coal mines and on construction sites to work in factories and on farms, is carried out by its members. (Within this category a limited number of highly skilled workers who usually receive a much higher rate of pay than other working people.) Members of the working class earn a fairly low income, are unable to accumulate savings, attempt to satisfy their immediate needs rather than plan for the future, achieve a low level of education, and use credit extensively.
The Lower Class
The lower class which is at the bottoms of the societal status ladder in the American stratification system. Its members can earn either no income or so little income that they are considered to be at the poverty level. They tend to have no savings and have little education, and they are generally in poor health. The majority of the welfare organization, equal opportunity, and affirmative action programs enacted by the Congress of the United States and the legislatures of the individual states are directed at providing assistance to and raising the economic standards of the members of the lower class.