Application: Social Class
In the Discussion, you addressed how constructionism influenced your racial and ethnic identities. The concept of social class is also based on or influenced by constructionism. Social class categorizes people according to their level of importance in society. According to the constructionist approach, social processes, such as political, legal, economic, and other outside influences help to categorize you as one class or another. Since outside influences change over time, designations of social class may change over time as well.
When you think of social class, you may think of wealth or power. These attributes do influence social class and will be addressed further in Week 3. Characteristics of race, such as skin color, also can influence social class. In some cultures, people may be assigned to a social class based on their skin, hair, or eye color. For example, in a culture in which white people are considered to be in a higher social class than dark people, the class of people in between may be based on the darkness of their skin, with light-skinned black people being considered in a higher class than dark-skinned black people. In a Native American society, a dark-haired person may be considered to be in a higher social class than a light-haired person. Dark hair matches expectations of appearance for members of a particular tribe. Categorizing individuals by social class can lead to conflicts in defining racial and ethnic identities. In Reading 4, June grapples with such a conflict and must revisit the definition of what it means to be Indian.
To prepare for this assignment:
Review the Readings 1, 4, and 6 in the course text, The Meaning of Difference. Pay particular attention to social class and the biological definitions of race and ethnicity.
Think of an historical example of how social class has changed over time.
Identify the major conflict in June’s scenario in Reading 4.
Think about the consistencies and inconsistencies in June’s approach to solving the conflict.
Consider the impact of social class on June’s logic.
The assignment (1–2 pages):
Describe an historical example of how social class has changed over time. Then explain how social class changed in the example, and what caused it to change.
Describe the major conflict in June’s scenario.
Explain the consistencies and inconsistencies in June’s approach to solving the conflict.
Analyze the impact of social class on June’s logic.