Social Classes with types and examples in detail

Social Classes

Social classes are a type of socio-economic classification used to establish the groups into which society is divided taking into account the characteristics that individuals have in common. The stratification of social classes arose from the Industrial Revolution, hence it is a term of common use in modern industrialized countries. Social Classes with types and examples

The social classes are formed as the individuals of a society are grouped according to a series of shared criteria regarding the social and economic aspects such as wealth, monetary income, employment, access to education, political power, purchasing power, beliefs, values, consumption habits, among others.

Based on these criteria, social classes are established, the differences and similarities that exist between individuals are evidenced, as well as the opportunities to achieve a better quality of life and escalate from one social class to another.

However, as far as castes and estates are concerned, people do not have the possibility to modify their status because their social position depends on the titles of the nobility or family inheritances.

On the other hand, social classes form the class system, which is not closed and allows people to move from one class to another according to their abilities and successes to overcome or fail to lose economic resources.

In this sense, social classes determine both the socio-economic situation of a society and a country because it allows us to analyze the economic distribution and its reach among citizens. Hence, a classification of social classes has been established as: upper class, middle class and lower class.


Social classes have accompanied man from their primitive societies, although they did not operate in the same way.

In ancient times there were more or less immovable strata, determined by birth or the result of wars, such as nobility and slavery, for example.

Thus, the aristocracy ruled on the basis of direct inheritance and succession in power, like the kings of medieval Europe, while slaves were captured as spoils of war in military defeats, or were born to slave mothers, like African slaves in the Spanish-American colonial era.

Social classes according to Weber

Max Weber’s theories made it possible to make Marx’s postulates more complex in order to understand the most complex social reality of the West, from the appearance of the middle classes and the bureaucracy. To do this, he proposes to discern between social classes, status groups, and political parties, which would be the strata in which society is organized economically, socially, and politically. To each stratum would belong a way of life and a way of consumption, as well as tensions and negotiations with the others. Social Classes with types and examples

Thus, the middle class would conceptually appear as a class in perpetual transition between the lower and upper classes, whose role would be that of mediator of the tensions between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Finally, Weber would propose to understand social classes in the following way:

  • Proprietary classes. Defined by their ability to provide themselves with goods and to decide their personal destiny.
  • Lucrative classes. Defined based on the value that the goods they produce acquire in the market.
  • Social classes. That they meet the previous characteristics but thought based on their recurrence over time.

Social classes according to Marx

Karl Marx postulated in the 20th century a philosophical and sociological doctrine of society that is based on the “class struggle”, that is, an undeclared conflict between the classes that traditionally control the means of production: the lands, the factories, the big industries, and the big businesses, and the salaried workers who have nothing but their labor capacity to offer.

According to Marx, society is essentially made up of two social classes:

  • The high bourgeoisieThe owners of the means of production, who survive from the exploitation of their workers and the use of a surplus-value, that is, an amount of money added to the cost of production of the objects or services produced.
  • The proletariat.  The proletarians would be the workers who have nothing else to offer to society except their capacity for work, their effort. Thus, they are exploited by the bourgeoisie in exchange for a salary, which serves to cover their needs, but they have no part in the destiny of what they produced with that effort.

Types of social classes

Below are the types of social classes according to inequalities, mainly of an economic nature and possession of goods. Social Classes with types and examples

Upper class

The upper class is made up of those people who earn more than the estimated economic income.

This class is made up of businessmen, prestigious professionals, presidents of important associations, celebrities of art and entertainment, renowned athletes, political or financial leaders, among others.

These people are characterized by having a high academic level, having political or economic influences, being part of traditional families, having a heritage inherited and accrued for several generations, living in luxury residences, among others.

Middle class

The middle class is the most widespread and predominant in society. There are those who subdivide it into upper-middle-class and lower-middle-class according to the level of education and income of individuals.

Those who make up this class have access to secondary and higher education, stable and competitive jobs, have their own homes, can access various goods and services, pay for health expenses, among others.

In this group are professionals, small and medium entrepreneurs, merchants, scientists, educators, entrepreneurs, workers, among others. Social Classes with types and examples

Many individuals who are in the middle class derive from the lower class, as well as, many of those in the upper class derive from the middle class after having made a great personal and work effort.

Lower class

It is made up of people who lack financial resources to access various basic goods and services, access education, and pay for a healthy and balanced diet.

Lower-class people do not own their own homes or private vehicles, and they usually live in vulnerable areas with high risk of danger.

In this group are informal workers, domestic employees, workers from various productive sectors, unemployed people, who do not get a stable job, among others.

Examples of social classes

Some examples of social classes are:

  • High social class Large businessmen and owners of international distribution or marketing chains, such as CEOs of transnational companies or large agricultural producers.
  • Middle class.  Small merchants, a family business or shop owners, professionals, and middle-level bureaucrats.
  • Low social class Construction workers, street vendors, and impoverished peasants who do not own their own land. Social Classes with types and examples

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