Measures of Social Class
In measuring social class, two schools of thought can be examined: the nominalist and the realist. According to nominalists, social class refers to an analytical reality; differences in social class are perceived by the observer and determined by variables that do not necessarily take into account the behaviour and perceptions of the people involved. A social class would be, for example, categories of people having Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000. What the individual thinks is not considered but rather objective criteria that characterise his/her situation are taken into account. Realists consider that a social class does not exist unless members of that class are conscious of their mutual class membership. Class-consciousness then leads members of that class to function behaviourally as a social and political group. These two schools of thought have contributed to the establishment of 3 main methods of measuring one's social class: the subjective method, the reputational method and the objective method. The Subjective Method
is one in which people are asked to define their own social class. Though this approach is direct and simple, it has a number of flaws: individuals may claim that everyone is equal or they may
classify themselves according to their aspirations. Also, improved social conditions may lead individuals to consider themselves as middle class though they are not.
The Reputational Method
asks individuals to classify others in social classes based on the reputation of these individuals. This method allows an understanding of how people in a community see major social divisions. Its use is, however, limited to small communities where people know one another The Objective Method
requires the researcher to rank individuals according to
objective criteria such as income, occupation and prestige.
Though researchers might err in their measurement, other
researchers can use the same criteria to verify their findings. Sociologists...
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