Some people often consider and evaluate themselves to determine their social group in society. In sociology, there are three major categories of social class: the elite, the middle class, and the poor. It is typical of a human to have thoughts of advancing from one group to the next. There are vast variations in material possession, authority, and wealth in most cultures, contributing significantly to the stratification in a population. Social classes, therefore, exist because of the variations in socioeconomic capacities in the world; however, an ideal society can eliminate them.
In sociology, the understanding of social classes is based on the perception of stratification and mobility. Social segregation represents a system of thoughts merged in social sciences and political theory based on societal categorization (Kincaid, 2015). The stratification describes the classification of people into groups based on social, economic, and political factors (Shavitt et al., 2016). Social stratification is, hence, the relative position of individuals within a given hierarchical societal category. Moreover, social mobility refers to the transition of persons either as a group or individuals to a different stratum.
Social classes’ definitions are broad and span over various disciplines, such as sociology, psychology, and anthropology. However, most of these definitions borrow extensively borrow from the theories of Karl Max and Max Weber (Shavitt et al., 2016). Nonetheless, the various descriptions revolve around the position in society. They include the group that an individual belongs to under economic or sociopolitical capacities. As per Karl Marx’s theory, a class comprises objective and subjective factors (Shavitt et al., 2016). Amidst the variations in the definition, classification, and description of societal classes, dominant categories include the upper, the middle, and the low classes (Shavitt et al., 2016). However, some sociologists like Gilbert and Kahl expand them into five detailed categories: the elites, the upper-middle, the lower middle, the working class, and the poor (Mizruchi, 2017). In every society, social stratification is based on the five groups.
Maintaining stratification systems in the imaginary world might be difficult since the social order does not allow stratification. However, the groupings play a significant role in the growth and stability of individuals. The classes can be maintained in the imaginary community by enabling individuals to experience social mobility out of their effort within the means of production. Society will destroy inherited privileges and prestige; thus, every individual will explore and exploit their potential, and poverty levels will be minimized. People might require some elements of the classes since they have different capacities to exploit reasonably available resources. Social clusters would arise again, but with a narrow gap between them.
Theory: The Models of Wright and Kahl in the Ideal Society
According to Joseph Kahl and Dennis Gilbert, social classes are composed of six classes based on Karl Max’s model. The classes include the elites, the upper-middle, the lower middle, the poor working class, and the underclass. Social classes influence various aspects of people’s lives, such as their mental health, family life, religion, politics, and education. Hence, members of the lower classes are disadvantaged, and some die before reaching the minimum life expectancy age. In the ideal society, the current social classes are no longer applicable since everyone has equal chances in life, and the economic and power gaps do not exist. Gilbert and Kahl note that social institutions can be transformed following guiding principles (Pérez, 2018). These ideologies include identifying and specifying necessary morals, using them as the evaluation standards, developing alternative values, and proposing theoretical frameworks to realize the new society.
According to Mizruchi (2017), Wright Mills’ theory explains that few individuals within the military, corporate and political realms hold relatively higher power in most societies, including the United States. These influential people make decisions that affect the lives of other persons who have little influence. The less powerful individuals are typically the majority and work for the authoritative ones. The social classes analysis in this category can be demonstrated by the triangle model where the political, military, and corporate leaders are at the top, followed by the interest group and local political leaders, then the common masses are at the bottom. Mizruchi (2017) demonstrates that the most potent personalities control almost every section of the economy, from the highest-ranking government and judiciary officials, universities to mass media. This necessitates an ideal setting without the social groups hence, everyone will be equally accommodated in the community.
The imagined society will liberate people from the numerous challenges resulting from social classes. The Models of Wright equally propose that the current social structures and institutions obstruct equality values (Pérez, 2018). Consequently, Mill concludes that the members at the top of the social class chain fluidly transit positions in three controlling realms: corporate, military, and government. In an ideal society, a system with higher standards of equality can exist. Hence, such a society would be devoid of the different societal constructions applicable in most communities. The gap between the groups has broadened continually, leading to unceasing conflicts. In this imaginary realm, the individuals in it would have access to highly desirable qualities applicable to every member.
The ideal society requires groups, although it proposes equal access to resources. It will create new classes based on the capabilities of individuals and people will be able to advance their social classes. The improvement can be achieved through using their skills to better utilize the available assets to experience social mobility (Bouchard, 2017). In addition, vertical advancement can be achieved by learning the expertise defining different classes. The prejudices related to this class include the idea that everyone is likely to be satisfied. People have different desires and perceptions, and not everyone may appreciate the ideal community. Moreover, educated members might start discriminating against those with low skills. In the ideal setting, individuals easily transit from one class to another and connect better with everyone.
The members within this setting will easily relate to each other since they perceive themselves as equals. The minority group will not exist since everyone will be dependent on their abilities and support from others. There will be lower levels of insufficiency in the ideal society and diminished social stratification levels caused by poverty (Bouchard, 2017). The welfare system of fairness provides a minimum basic income for people with limited self-sustenance capacity. The decreased poverty levels will foster better behavior and interaction between social classes.
Social stratification caused by social classes negatively impacts the current society prompting the need for an ideal society. The ideal society is likely to solve the challenges present such as high levels of poverty. Moreover, the conflicts that arise from the current groupings require a desperate transition into an ideal society. In the ideal society, the imagined traits will be based on capability rather than financial status. Nonetheless, the ideal setting is coupled with complex uncertainties, although it might considerably reduce poverty.
Bouchard, G. (2017). Social myths and collective imaginaries. University of Toronto Press.
Kincaid, H. (2015). Debating the reality of social classes. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 46(2), 189-209.
Mizruchi, M. S. (2017). The Power Elite in historical context: A reevaluation of Mills’ thesis, then and now. Theory and Society, 46(2), 95-116.
Pérez Ahumada, P. (2018). Social classes, economic sectors and changes in the Chilean social structure, 1992 and 2013. [PDF document].
Shavitt, S., Jiang, D., & Cho, H. (2016). Stratification and segmentation: Social class in consumer behaviour. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 26(4), 583-593. Web.