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consumer behavior ch.9 SOCIAL CLASS

Terms in this set (19)

They are the segment of our society who most value quality merchandise, pay special attention to prestige brands, and believe it is important to spend with good taste.

class composed of old, locally prominent families—the aristocracy of birth and wealth with at least three generations in the community and class. It is the smallest class group, international in residence, friendships, and relationships. Its members have occupations as large merchants, financiers, and in the higher professions. They are oriented toward gracious living, upholding the family reputation, reflecting the excellence of one's breeding, and displaying a sense of community responsibility.

This is the nouveau riche, or newly rich class, composed of those who have recently arrived at their wealth and are not quite accepted by the upper-uppers. They are the executive elite, founders of large businesses, and wealthy doctors and lawyers. They have the highest incomes of all the classes and their goals are a blend of the upper-uppers' pursuit of gracious living and the upper-middles' success drive. Many of the nation's millionaires fit this category.

This class consists of moderately successful professional men and women, such as doctors, lawyers, and professors; owners of medium-sized businesses; and managerial workers in organizations. It also includes younger men and women who are expected to reach those occupational-status levels within a few years. Most members are college-educated; hence, this group is sometimes referred to as "the brains and eyes" of our society.
The motivations of this group are toward achieving success in their careers, reaching a higher income level, and achieving social advancement for themselves and their children. They strive to cultivate charm and polish and handle a broad range of civic and cultural interests. They play bridge and Scrabble; go to plays, museums, symphonies, and art galleries; and are members of golf clubs, yacht clubs, and college clubs.
These are "poor but honest" and "family folks."

The largest of all classes, it is composed of skilled and semiskilled workers and small business tradespeople.

Contrary to what may be expected, many of these class members make very good money; they simply don't use it to become "respectable" the way the middle class does.

Working-class people are oriented toward living well and enjoying life from day-to-day rather than saving for the future or being concerned about what the middle classes think of them. They want to be modern, to keep up with the times rather than the Joneses.
The working class family's world view is one of great anxiety. They value the present, the known, and the personal, while avoiding the competitive, the impersonal, and the uncertain. They indulge rather than invest. They are preoccupied with stable human relationships in their everyday lives. Moreover, because they see themselves as being quite restricted in their ability to rise in social status, those with whom they identify are largely chosen from their own class. The working class woman tends to be part of a tightly knit social group composed primarily of female kin. Thus, more than in any other class, the working class family generally looks horizontally for its norms and standards rather than up to the next class.

This group's emphasis on family ties is one sign of their limited social, psychological, and geographical horizons when compared to the middle class. Their parochial view extends to other areas, however. They tend to live within a mile of a relative, follow local sports heroes, watch local TV news rather than national or world news, vacation at home or within two hours' distance, and buy large domestic cars, not small, foreign ones.26
Although this group has become more affluent over the last thirty years, there has been essentially no value change. This group's basic characteristics—limited horizons, focus on family, and sharp family sex-role divisions—have been relatively unchanged. They have sought change through using modern possessions, not through human relationships or new ideas.
This class together with the middle class enjoys poker, TV, movies, and bowling. The men belong to unions, lodges, and fraternal orders.
Five basic goals appear to activate the consumer behavior of the working-class homemaker:
1. The search for social, economic, and physical security.
2. The drive for a "common man" level of recognition and respectability.
3. The desire for support and affection from the people important to her.
4. The effort to escape a heavy burden of household labors.
5. The urge to decorate, to "pretty up," her world.

The working-class world tends to be more limited in both direct and vicarious experiences, which is reflected in consumption patterns. Expenditures are concentrated into fewer categories of goods and services. The working class is more concerned with immediate gratification than middle-class families are, but avoid spending their money in ways that are considered out-of-place. Their spending is centered more on the interior-exterior interest of their house than on the size and location of the house itself. Since their upward social mobility is quite limited, they are not concerned about socially elite addresses. Instead, their housing tastes are very practical and utilitarian with "decent," "clean," "new," and "safe" characterizing their outlook.
Although working-class consumers' behavior resembles middle-class behavior in hard goods spending, their expenditures for services lag behind and are also lower than their own expenditures for durables. Some of the reasons suggested for the lack of service-oriented consumption among the working class in comparison with the middle class are (1) they tend to be do-it-yourselfers; (2) their expenditures for children's education are much smaller; (3) they are more likely to spend their vacation at home or visiting relatives, saving on motel and transportation costs; (4) they do not frequent expensive restaurants, but tend to consume their meals away from home with relatives, or at a franchised drive-in.
Thus, the tremendous boom in the service sector of our economy is largely a middle-class phenomenon.