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An analysis of the relative explanatory power of the concept of class compared to two other dimensions of social position

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research
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Sunmade A.
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  1. Critically reviewing what has been written about the definition of class, it becomes evident that Karl Marx had the most definitive impact on defining how the concept of class is currently used in social discourse.
  2. When placed in this context, it becomes quite evident that the application of class creates a certain stigma or stereotype for the individual or population.
  3. One of the most notable is the issue of race. Because the issue of race has become such a critical issue for social development, substantial programs to protect individuals from diverse ethnic backgrounds have been developed.
  4. Although the issue of race is one that has similar implications for social and political development as the issue of class, the reality is that race is a more pervasive issue for social development that class.
  5. Because of gender and race are inextricably tied to the individual and further are difficult to hide from plain view these issues continue to have significant impact on how the individual is treated by others in society.

This investigation asks us to consider relative explanatory power of the concept of class compared to at least two other dimensions of social position?i.e. race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation or occupation. With this in mind, it seems reasonable to argue that the concept of class must first be examined. Only through looking at the concept of class will it be possible to consider other dimensions of social position in a comparative manner.
Critically reviewing what has been written about the definition of class, it becomes evident that Karl Marx had the most definitive impact on defining how the concept of class is currently used in social discourse. Researchers examining the basic concept of class as espoused by Karl Marx argued that this scholar provided the basic foundation for the development of modern conceptions of class based on economic status. According to Wright (2000) ?The Marxist concept of class is rooted in a polarized notion of antagonistic class relations: slave masters exploit slaves, lords exploit serfs, capitalists exploit workers? (p. xiii). Wright goes on to note that while the same classifications are not used in modern society?i.e. slaves and masters?the basic idea of utilizing economic status as a means for classifying groups of individuals is still a predominant method for identifying social status.

[...] Clearly, the specific language that is utilized to describe a specific social position will clearly have an impact on the social response that is garnered as a result of the presence of a specific race or gender. This statement is clearly supported when one thinks about the different stereotypes that are associated with an African American female as compared with an African American male. In the end, it becomes evident that the social classification of class is one that, even though it still has considerable ramifications for the development of the individual and the application of stereotypes, does not create as many social problems or issues as the presence of gender or race. [...]


[...] While the concept of class clearly creates a number of connotations that have ramifications for social development, there are other dimensions of social position which significantly influence the ability of the individual to garner favorable or unfavorable perception. One of the most notable is the issue of race. Because the issue of race has become such a critical issue for social development, substantial programs to protect individuals from diverse ethnic backgrounds have been developed. For instance, affirmative action programs were developed as a means to ensure that minorities were not discriminated against in the workplace. [...]

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