Social Hierarchy in America

The system according to which, the society of a particular region or country is divided into various classes is known as social stratification. Social stratification is based on different variables such as power, wealth, races, education levels and type of occupations etc. The differentiation in the social classes is also dependent on the political and economic conditions of a particular country. There were two theories associated with the social hierarchy in America. One is the Karl Marx theory and another is the Max Weber theory.

According to Karl Marx theory, social classes were defined as per the production capabilities of the individuals. Karl Marx differentiated the whole society into two basic classes such as the capitalist class and the working class. He regarded production as the key factor for determining the social life.

The theories as outlined by Max Weber regarding social stratification was partially similar to that of Karl Marx. The term class had the same meaning, as per both the theories. A typical class referred to the grouping of people as per the economic condition or status. However, in addition to class; Max Weber defined another major determining factor of the social stratification known as status. The class concept of hierarchy was based on the principle of production of goods, whereas the status concept was based on the principle of consumption of goods.

Social Hierarchy in America

Social Hierarchy in America

Now, talking specifically about the social hierarchy in America, it can broadly be divided into six classes:

  • Capitalist class
  • Upper middle class
  • Middle class
  • Working class
  • Working poor class
  • Underclass

Capitalist class

This is the top level. The individuals of this class are owners of personal businesses, real estate and securities like stocks and bonds. They also serve as top corporate executives of various organizations.

Upper middle class

This particular class consists of individuals who are well educated and serve roles as managers and professionals. They hold responsible positions in the organizations and society. They work as doctors, lawyers, accountants and in various other specializations. They work for both public and the private sector. They are quite well paid in their field.

Middle class

The middle class consists of individuals working as low level managers, teachers, electricians, nurses, plumbers and insurance agents etc. They receive lesser income than that of the upper middle class.

Working class

The working class includes individuals who are not well skilled in their jobs and who are not specialized. As a result, they get access toa comparatively less amount of money as their wage.

Working poor class

The individuals of the working poor class are low skilled and they lack job security. They work as fast food workers, construction workers, janitors and maids. At times, they suffer from financial unstable conditions.


This is the lowest class of the social hierarchy in America. The individuals belonging to this class are dependent on some government programs such as veteran benefits and public assistance to sustain their living.