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caste system

a system of stratification (characterized by low social mobility) in which one's place in the stratification system is determined by birth

class consciousness

the awareness that a class structure exists and the feeling of shared identification with others in one's class with whom one perceives common life chances

class system

the organized pattern of social class in society

conspicuous consumption

the ostentatious display of goods to mark one's social status

culture of poverty

the arguement that poverty is a way of life and, like other cultures, is passed on from generation to generation

economic restructuring

contemporary transformations in the basic structure of work that are permanently altering the workplace, including the changing composition of the workplace, deindustrialization, the use of enhanced technology, and the development of a global economy

educational attainment

the total years of formal education

estate system

a system of stratification in which the ownership of property and the exercise of pwer is monopolized by an elite or noble class that has total control over societal resources

false consciousness

the thought resulting from subordinate classes internalizing the view of the dominant class

feminization of poverty

the process whereby a growing proportion of the poor are women and children


a belief system that tries to explain and justify the status quo


the amount of money brought into a household from various sources during a given year (wages, investment, income, dividends, etc.)

life chances

the opportunities that people have in common by virtue of belonging to a particular class

median income

the midpoint of all household incomes


a system in which one's status is based on merit or accomplishments

net worth

the value of one's financial assets minus debt

occupational prestige

the subjective evaluation people give to jobs as better or worse than others

poverty line

the figure established by the government to indicate the amount of money needed to support the basic needs of a household


the value with which different groups or people are judged

social class

the social structural hierarchical position groups hold relative to the economic, social, political, and cultural resources of society

social differentiation

the process by which different statuses in any group, organization, or society develop

social mobility

a person's movement over time from one class to another

social stratification

a relatively fixed hierarchical arrangement in society by which groups have different access to resources, power, and percieved social worth; a system of structured social inequality

socioeconomic status (SES)

a measure of class standing, typically indicated by income, occupational prestige, and educational attainment


an established position in a social structure that carries with it a degree of prestige

status attainment

the process by which people end up in a given position in the stratification system

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

federal program by which grants are given to states to fund welfare

urban underclass

a grouping of people, largely minority and poor, who live at the absolute bottom of the socioeconomic ladder in urban areas


the monetary value of everything one actually owns

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