What are the three social classes

Social class

Hierarchical classification of individuals within a social system through different status classes. It is assumed here that the individuals of the same class have roughly the same status, but differ in comparison with the individuals of another class by a higher or lower status. Most German research institutes distinguish between five categories:
(1) Class A: upper class (managers of large companies, high-ranking officials, the upper class of employees, etc.),
(2) BISE class: Upper middle class (managers of medium-sized companies, deputies, etc.),
(3) Class B2: Middle middle class (managers of small and medium-sized enterprises, middle management and civil servants etc.),
(4) Class C: Lower middle class (owners of small and medium-sized businesses, civil servants in lower positions, office staff, craftsmen),
(5) Class D: lower class (unskilled workers, unemployed etc.),
(6) Class E: Lower lower class (pensioners, widowed persons, casual workers).

The social class includes people with the same status (status, social). These people are characterized by the same characteristics as occupation, origin, income, property, etc. (see Nieschlag / Dichtl / ​​Hör-schgen, 1997, social class 189ff.).

In order to measure social classes, it is necessary to disentangle the subjective assessment of the person in question about his or her own class - and that of others - and their "actual" class. The measurement takes place either directly by questioning the assessment of one's own social class and that of other people or indirectly with the help of indicators, e.g. attitudes, interaction patterns or status criteria (see Kro-eber-Riel / Weinberg, 1999, Sozialeschicht 553ff.). One- or multi-dimensional indices are usually created for security purposes.

The well-known Warner index was formed on the basis of status criteria, which are measured on 7-point scales. Warner used the profession, source of income, type of house and neighborhood as criteria. The population was divided into five different strata according to these characteristics (cf. Wamer / Meeker / Eells, 1960, social stratum 121ff).

The relevance of class affiliation for marketing is based on class-specific consumer behavior or the striving of people to feel that they belong to a class through corresponding consumption. The class-specific behavior is expressed, for example, in the fact that people from the "lower class" perceive a greater risk of buying due to their low income, while the members of the "upper class" see shopping as a social event and demonstrative self-expression (cf. Riel / Weinberg, 1999, social class 557ff.).

Layer, social

(Social class): According to M. Nal ner Lepsius, social classes are categories of holders of privileged or underprivileged positions, between which there is typically an irreversible equality of positions ”. In a very similar way, Helmut Schelsky understands the social class as “an arbitrary class-wise structure of every larger population based on objective position characteristics (occupation, apartment, level of education, larger property, etc.) ... with no subjective aspects such as prestige and class consciousness that can be experienced by class members Must play a role ”.
A uniform scheme for the categorization of social classes has not been able to establish itself in empirical social research and in market research. This is directly related to the fact that in modern industrial societies the status distribution is “a continuum without visible breaks” and the layers that result from the division of such a continuum are “actually only statistical categories and thus fictitious social groups”. “The demarcation between the individual layers is more or less arbitrary and can be different depending on the purpose of the investigation” (Renate Mayntz).

variable occurring in the theory of buyer behavior. It refers to population categories whose members are very similar with regard to certain characteristics and differ from the rest of the population in terms of the same characteristics. In the simple idea of ​​a vertically (hierarchically) structured society, social classes follow one another, e.g. lower, middle and upper classes. People who are assigned to a social class can be characterized by uniformities, e.g. in knowledge and skills, attitudes and values, language and media use, buying and consumption behavior, lifestyle and consumer style. For the empirical determination of social classes, operational characteristics are to be defined that enable the classification of as many people as possible in the vertical class structure. These features depend, among other things, on the purpose of the study (e.g. explanation of voting behavior, the use of cultural facilities or the use of credit offers) and on the respective society itself. In Western industrial societies, the demographic features "formal education", "occupation" and " Income ”is used because it is suitable for showing the social status acquired through personal performance (demography). The number of social classes is determined by the characteristics used and the heterogeneity of society. Marx's stratified model provides for two social strata (“classes”), the only characteristic being that of “ownership of the means of production”. In contrast, the society of India shows a larger number of castes, whose affiliation is predetermined by birth. When using the characteristics “formal education”, “occupation”, and “income”, income is divided into several categories, formal education usually after three to five school or university degrees. The ranking of the occupations results from surveys in which the social appreciation of the population towards different occupational groups is determined. The highest value of a characteristic is assigned a maximum, the lowest a minimum number of points. After adding up the number of points, a point continuum is obtained in which layer sections are placed. Since every person is characterized by a certain combination of characteristics, they can be assigned to a layer based on their individual number of points. In leveled medium-sized companies, the explanatory and prognostic value of class affiliation with regard to consumer behavior is not very great. Compared with members of other social classes, consumers from lower social classes have a slight preference for shops with social contact options and for those with low price levels, prefer personal information sources and neglect media, often acquire poorer quality, pay higher interest rates on loans and know their consumer rights worse (“poorpaymore” thesis). Middle-class consumers are characterized by a performance and efficiency-oriented information and purchasing behavior; they often obtain more detailed information and strive to make “good” decisions.

Literature: Geißler, R. (Ed.), Social Stratification and Life Chances in the Federal Republic of Germany, Stuttgart 1987. Schäfers, B., Social Structure and Change in the Federal Republic of Germany, Stuttgart 1985.

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