What problems are associated with trying to measure social class?
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What problems are associated with trying to measure social class? The main problem with trying to measure social class is that the term social class is most controversial. Therefore the way in which it is measured will vary according to how it is defined. Many theorists argue that the question of how to measure social class cannot be separated from the question of class-consciousness. Thompson believed that social class would only exist if there were class- consciousness. By this he meant "class is only class if you believe that you belong to a certain class". What this meant was that individuals in the same class situation share a sense of their common interest, and thus think or behave in a similar manner. Whereas Marx believed that class was identified according to an individuals relationship to the dominant mode of production. He believed that the "two great classes" of a capitalist society were the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie were those who were the owners and controllers of the means of production ands the proletariat were those who only had their own labour power, which they were forced to sell in order to survive. This then leads to class inequalities, as the bourgeoisie will aim to maximise production with minimum costs.
However because it is a questionnaire there are many methodological problems associated with it. The main one being that the public may not be completely honest when completing the form, in fear of being judged or not wanting others to know their personal information. Also the census only requires a simple job description and not detailed information, this can not then be a reliable way in which to categories peoples occupational status. Another problem with using occupational scales to measure social class is that although a certain job may come under the heading of a manual worker the actual job it self may be highly paid and involve a lot of skill, but due to the fact the individual is doing manual work they would still be classified as working class. An example of this would be a builder, their job involves a lot of skill and is highly paid but it is still a manual job, therefore you would be considered working class. Another main problem with using the register generals class scheme is that there are many people who don't classify to any of the categories provided. For example domestic workers and employer don't figure in the scale therefore how can they be allocated to a certain class.
The other gender problem is that until recently women were not able to get the highly professional and powerful jobs therefore would not have been considered as middle class unless there husbands job was middle class. However once women were able to get the higher positioned jobs their employment still had little effect on the families social position because it was always the males employment that was used even if it was lower than the women's. Therefore having considered the different measures that are available to measure social class I believe that it very difficult to measure a persons class position on just the bases of either their occupation, cultural or political factors. This is because I don't believe a person occupation does necessarily indicate which class a person belongs to. This is because although a person may have a professional job there wealth in terms of assets may be very low. Also an individuals may have a classification of a professional job but their status within that job may be low, that's why I feel that Goldthorpe's class scheme is a more accurate than the register generals. Having brought this discussion to an end I believe that in order to accurately measure an individuals social class position all three dimension should be measure (economic, political and cultural) as this would give a more valid social class position. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 Parmdip Lidder
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