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Class and American Society

In American society, there is a belief that class differences do not matter and that social mobility is such that the sort of social stratification that was and is prevalent in Europe has been eliminated in the egalitarian United States. However, it is clear that class differences do exist, with power unevenly distributed through the levels of society and with the institutions of government and society structured so as to respond differently to different segments of society. In America today, the distance between the very rich and the very poor is greater than ever. What needs to be considered, however, is whether class differences in American society are stronger than the racial and ethnic differences which seem to have an even more profound effect on social stratification and on a continuation of the poverty and social redlining that keeps entire groups out of the mainstream to this day. Is racism the primary component of class differences today, or is it strictly economic? The two are not really separable, since the primary effect of racism seems to be a form of economic discrimination perpetuating poverty for a racial or ethnic group, but there is a clear difference between economic discrimination as such and racial discrimination that produces an economic difference which then becomes an occasion for further discrimination.

The problem of racism is not specifically an American problem, though Americans have made it into an important political and social issue as they have tried to find a way to eliminate racism from their society. Racism occurs whenever there is a dominant racial group that uses its position to discriminate against a minority racial group on the basis of racial characteristics. Traditionally, discrimination has been seen as a creature of prejudice, and until the late 1960s the dominant perspective among social science analysts of discrimination was that prejudice and intolerance were the causes of disc...

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Class and American Society. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 10:39, February 06, 2016, from