Assignment: Perceptions of Social Class
In Week 1, you considered the way that people perceive themselves in terms of social class. This week, you are examining how people perceive others in terms of social class. As a reminder, social class ranks people according to their importance in society. People may perceive different ranks of social class based on race, power, wealth, and other characteristics. Ranking people as low class, middle class, and high class is called stratification.
Some of the authors of the Readings in the course text suggest that the United States is developing a tri-racial stratification system which ties social class to race. According to these authors, a preliminary map of the tri-racial system identifies “whites” as high, “honorary whites” in the middle, and “collective black” as low. This stratification is based primarily on skin tone. Therefore, if you look white you will be perceived as high in the stratification. The darker your skin tone, the lower your rank in the stratification system.
In other Readings, the authors tie social class to power and wealth. People who are perceived as having a great deal of authority in their jobs are considered to be powerful. Powerful people hold a high rank in social class. Additionally, people who are financially well off are considered to be in a high rank because of their wealth. Perceptions of social class can be complex since they can be based on race, power, and wealth.
To prepare for this Assignment:
- Review this weeks Learning Resources. Pay particular attention to the definitions of wealth, power, and the tri-racial stratification system in the article, From Bi-racial to Tri-racial: Towards a New System of Racial Stratification in the USA.
- Consider the impact of the tri-racial stratification system on perceptions of race and ethnicity.
- Think about how race, power, and wealth might influence people’s perception of social class
- Reflect on whether race, power, or wealth might have the most influence and why.
The Assignment (34 pages):
- Explain the impact of a tri-racial system on societal perceptions of race and ethnicity. Provide specific examples.
- Separately analyze the impact of race, power, and wealth on people’s perceptions of social class. Provide specific examples for each.
- Explain which you believe has the greatest influence on people’s perceptions of social class and justify your response.
Support your Assignment with specific references to all resources used in its preparation.
Rosenblum, K. E., & Travis T. C. (2016). The meaning of difference: American constructions of race and ethnicity, sex and gender, social class, sexuality, and disability (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
- Section II, Reading 24, “From Friendly Foreigner to Enemy Race”
- Section I, Reading 12, “What’s Class Got to Do With It?”
- Section I, Reading 13, “The Silver Spoon: Inheritance and the Staggered Start”
- Section II, Reading 31, “Cause of Death: Inequality”
- Section II, Reading 33, “The Myth of the Culture of Poverty
- Section III, “Framework Essay”
Bonilla-Silva, E. (2004). From bi-racial to tri-racial: Towards a new system of racial stratification in the USA. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 27(6), 931950. doi:10.1080/0141987042000268530
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