The following paper will talk and discuss about the ongoing social evil of classism within the workplace and organization. Initially the paper will elucidate and explain the meaning of social class and how it takes place in an organization. The second process of the paper will deal with the scope, significance and background of social classism and then would explain social class in organizations in accordance to social bias and culture. Then the paper will dwell the essential component of social class in workplace and how it takes shape, what are the reasons for its neglect and what are some of the prime reasons for its occurrence.
The researcher with the medium of this paper would now elaborate on the different types of social class and how each class stands and the problems faced by them at different levels. Now the paper will talk about the effects of social classism and discuss how this effects the culture of the firm, thought process, people’s action, environment of the office and most importantly on the pay and recruitment factor. Further social class would be compared with moralities and functionalities necessary for classism to exist and therefore the researcher would adopt a correlational analysis to understand social class with morality, decision making, social relationships, manipulation and how it can be embraced in the workplace. Lastly the paper will statically analyse how social class takes place in organizations and whether it is a perquisite or a defilement and would indeed suggest various solutions to tackle the problems put forward.
Social classes are basically a permeable and intersectional form of diversity around us and they continue to persist despite of various efforts to counter them or propel their existence. On the other hand what we require is are class transitioners which are known to have broader cultural experiences and knowledge and they are often used to bridge the gap and connect on various shared situations having a wide and large array of organizational members. In order to understand the problem further we need to understand who exactly these class transitioners are. Class transitioners can be defined as people who often transition between classes and can learn to relate to people in a more skilled way and also are incredibly helpful and supportive and they understand all kinds of people from all walks and spheres of life.
In order to comprehend the study in a better way it is important to dissect upon some of these examples. It is been seen at Harrison & Corley, 2011 that in order to reduced cultural factors from social classes at workplace this organization imported cultural influences that exist outside the framework of the workplace and inculcated them into daily practice to create a balance and harmonious conduct. Another organization known where such a problem persisted is Rivera which is an elite firm had adopted a similar pattern for years in recruiting more employees from similar social backgrounds being rich and upper class and considering very few recruitments from the lower social classes of the society. Also another problem was noticed in Reagans where people in the organization were used to a similar group of people and when new diverse people were introduced it led to deviations from its similar ideologies. Also in another organization namely Iyengar & Westwood it was noticed that certain polarized groups had started to view people in their group positively while having a negative view about the other people in the organization but not particularly in their own group. These examples show how social classism exists in various organizations and how it affects people and employees thoughts, actions and cultures and creates a very weird and unlikely atmosphere and environment. Therefore it is noticeable and important to try to reduce and eradicate such a culture and pattern and make people and organizations more culturally diverse and socially accepting.
In order to understand the given problem it is first necessary to understand and elucidate on what exactly a social class is and how it takes shape in an organization. It is seen that every society is varied and these variations like difference in wealth, possession, power, authority, prestige and reputation can cause various deviations and disputes and problems within itself. This problem when takes the shape of individuals compared to other individuals in a society is often known as the social classism. Social classism can be said to be categorised into various dimensions being as follows:
Upper Class – Elite
They are the ones who enjoy all the benefits in the society and include representatives or heads of various multinational corporations, foundations or universities. They are the ones who dominate the economy and wealth and often are the most influential and powerful people of the world.
Upper Middle Class
They are the ones who form the subset of the upper class elite category and are often the more educated and achieving lot including individuals who are employed in moreover salaried jobs or organizations or who are lawyers, architects, doctors, engineers or accountants.
Lower Middle Class
They constitute of the ones who are equipped with more clerical work, administrative work, those who provide support to professionals, engaged in data collection, and also include the ones involved in blue collar skilled trades.
This is chunk of every population which forms the majority of the crowd and class in a society. They are the ones who are involved in meager activities in order to earn a livelihood and namely are craft workers, repairing shops workers, delivery services boys, laborers or workers in a restaurant.
They form the most basic and deprived class of the society and are the ones who work in very poor conditions and earn remuneration in the form of wages mostly at hourly or daily basis. They include ones employed in social services, underclass, or workers at a construction site etc.
Background of the Study
To under the history or the background of the study and where the problem occurred it is important to understand how it occurred and the reasons for the existence of such a problem. As soon as history began from time immemorial there was existence of some social or economic classism and it continues to prevail thereon. Like in the Egyptian empire the social pyramid was headed by the Mesopotamia who was worshipped as a God and the ones who were weaker or probably called as the warrior group were the nobles. It is therefore seen that classism continued to prevail from the time of civilizations and Empires.
Soon the social class distinction started getting into organizations and society’s and the Priests were considered to be the ones having possessed immense knowledge and were considered to be the noble and gifted ones, whereas the workers were the ones who handled the clerical work and other meagre duties. Further it was seen that workers and craftsmen started belonging to the lower classes or the poor classes who had to perform some work in order to earn some livelihood for their families. Soon came democracy with several new prospects and new idea of seeing the world but however the economic organization and position of every class remained the same and was unchanged.
However as time proceeded so travelled the class system along with it. The number of changes brought or new policies introduced did not do any good and the social classism within the strata of society and at workplace continued to prevail and was untouched by the transition of time or new regulations. Soon came the time of various historians who came and told about what social class at organizations and in the society was according to them, but no one was able to provide a solution on as to eradicate or overcome the same situation.
Karl Marx was of the view that there were two great classes meaning the producers known as capitalists and other the people who work for them known as the workers. What the workers only owned was their work and this work and ability was termed as their labour power. What Marx felt was that lack of power of workers was the prime reasons for their exploitation and from there the entire issue of social class conflict begin. He was further of the opinion that both the classes of people had already formed opinions, mind-sets and understandings of their positions and this was termed as class consciousness. However when the workers were convinced by the owners that there position is compatible, this created something known as false consciousness. Another point of discussion to his theory is that though he categorized the classes into two main groups he knew there was a third group which was existent which was known as the petit bourgeoisie which meant the middle class who were not workers but owners of small businesses. What Marx could not find is the position of these middlemen since they were not powerful as the owners and nor were paid wages as the workers, but the researcher feels what he forgot to interpret is that there is no position for these middlemen, they are called the middle class because they balance the skills and abilities of both the classes, they manage to do better than the ones below and on the other hand they strive to achieve every single day what the class above them does and transpires to perform.
Another sociologist was Max Weber who argued and contemplated on the fact that these social classes referred to the economic interests and likes of the society. He clarified that this difference of class and this disparity was a quantifiable economic and not a social position. What weber also talked about is status and prestige of the classes, but more importantly what was essential was the awareness of their position and value. So what we can see is how diverse the opinions of these sociologists were and how in individual capacity were not able to find a solution to this problem. Also what was not seen is how this disparity and classism within the various strata’s of the society would cause such a difference and social class in the organizations they work and this classism will be responsible to how they were seen and known by various people in the society.
What another sociologist Evans & Mills correctly stated is that social class is the most frequently used and inconsistently defined concepts in the history and genesis of social sciences.” This basically sums up how the social classism prevailed in the earlier times and how it came to existence at the workplace and why despite several attempts to understand and find a solution to this problem none of the sociologists were able to reciprocate the same.
To understand the significance of the topic and the problem at hand it is important to analyse and interpret what is issue and what is causing this problem. In order to simplify the terms we can say that social class is a robust, potent and distinct predator of how people conceive others in and around them and how they accordingly act in the organizations. Social class can also be interpreted as the dimensions of oneself that is rooted in the various objective materials available in the society which hold some importance to ourselves, like income, occupational materials or education and then its correlation with subjective perceptions like risk, competition and people around getting more success. What social class creates in the domains of organizations and what it affects is the morals of a person, social relationships, judgments of other people and finally the decision making based on the other three pre decided factors and outcomes.
Social class explains various organizational patterns, behaviour of individuals and how it changes with people of different classes around, it shows the mentality and mindset of a person and what upbringing he has had, it displays the level of acceptance of the society and also displays his several beliefs and fairness about the organization. One instance of the same is that people working in an organization might judge a newcomer immediately and make an opinion about the same person and this directly influences and is the start of what we call the epidemic of social classism. It is truly said that reactions, observations driven by perceptions influence to what is called social class to form the basis of self-fulfilling prophecies in an organization.
Therefore from the above examples and understanding of the whole problem of social class and its existence we know how detrimental it is to an organization and why it needs to be immediately eradicated and the effect to be reduced. From this we understand the significance of topic and problem at hand and why is it important to find solutions to the problem which are futuristic and self-reliable and provide immediate outcomes then wait for new laws and policies to take shape over several years and take further more years to be implemented.
Review of Literature
As we know social class can be said to be a class formed by a group of people having same social status and belonging to the same social culture thereby possessing same social goals and objectives. Each of this class has a definite set pattern of habits, values, behaviour, conduct and beliefs. In order to understand what exactly social class it is important to understand what various sociologists and experts have said about the same.
“A class is a large-scale grouping of people who share common economic resources, which strongly influence the type of lifestyle they are able to lead.”
Horton and Hunt (1968)
“A social class is defined as a stratum of people of similar position in the social status continuum.”
“A class is a number of people sharing one or more causes of life chances, the typical chances for a supply of goods, external living conditions, and personal life experience.”
“A class is a group of people who stand in a common relationship to the means of production.”
Lopreato and Lawrence, 1972
“The political-power structure, and to the ideas of time, a relationship which necessarily brings it into conflict with some other group having divergent ideas and different interests with respect to the economic and political structures.”
Evans & Mills
“Social class is one of the most frequently used and inconsistently defined concepts in the world of social sciences.”
Adler & Snibbe
“The traditional variables that have been used to define social class objectively across the disciplines are income, education and occupational prestige.”
“Classes means groups defined in terms of their relationship to ownership and control of the means of production and of their control over the labour of others.”
“Psychological class can be defined as a person’s level of education and type of occupation, combined with behaviours, thoughts and feelings that include expectations and value systems with which a person manages everyday life and his or her relationships with others, in local groups or larger communities and societies.”
“Social class comprises both an individual’s material resources and an individual’s perceived rank with the social hierarchy.”
Lapour and Heppner
“Social class includes an individual’s overall awareness of where he or she falls in the social class hierarchy.”
Lachman and Weaver
“Social class differences can be defined based on household income or economic status of a person in the society he or she resides.”
“Social class is an individuals’ mental representation of his or her attributes, including his or her social rules, social categories, personality, behavioural tendencies, goals and physical characteristics.”
“Social class is dynamically shaped by the norms, values and practices that are prevalent in the socio-cultural contexts that people currently encounter and the contexts that they have encountered in their childhood and throughout their lives.”
“Among the various socio-cultural sources of the self, ethnicity has received much researcher attention.”
- To understand the term social class
- To analyse the types of social class
- To interpret the meaning of the phrase social class in an organization
- To find the problems of social class at workplace
- To study the history and background of social class and its effect
- To understand the scope and significance of social class at workplace and its need to be eradicated from an organization
- To analyse the data collected statistically with the help of a questionnaire
- To provide plausible solutions and recommendations
The research methodology adopted in this paper by the researchers is descriptive and qualitative in nature. Qualitative because it contains data collected from secondary sources like websites, journals, already available research thesis and various books.
The research design adopted by the researchers in order to assist their research is qualitative research design since the researchers use statistical and secondary data to come to conclusions to collect actionable designs. Further the researcher has taken the assistance of descriptive and explanatory method of research design in order to elucidate and further elaborate on their analysed and collected data and interpret their results in accordance with the same.
The problem at hand that how social class at organizations impacts the thoughts, actions and culture of people and the environment is truly valid and is quite impactful and the data and information available on the same is very massive and resourceful. The scope of the study is very beneficial to solve the problems faced and counter them with acceptable and practical solutions and recommendations. The study needs to be done with a wider perspective eliminating the selection bias and the pre conceived notions the mind curtails while viewing and analyzing a topic. The study is important and has a wide and certain scope since this study will help us understand the crux of the problem at hand, how it can be countered, what exactly are the constituents of the topic and how social class is prevailing despite various efforts to reduce the same and finally why it is important to eradicate and the narrow the possibility of occurrence of the same immediately.
Sources of Data Collection
The sources of data collection obtained and used by the researcher will include both primary and secondary data. Primary data since herein data will be collected with the help of a questionnaire circulated with the help of a google form to obtain responses from varied respondents in order to understand the dynamics and impact of this problem on the masses of the society and their views on the same. Secondary data because the information collected and assessed and incorporated within the research is obtained from various secondary sources such as books, journals, research websites, reviews, case studies and material available on any such secondary data collection source.
This method of sampling of data will be used for assessing and contemplating the google form meaning the questionnaire. The questionnaire will be circulated to about 10 respondents bearing age from 18-35 to get a diverse perspective and having been influenced by such a problem or heard of such an issue or work in a sector where such a practice continues to exist. The method of sampling to be used will be both multistage sampling as it comes under the purview of probability sampling and also convenience sampling method will be incorporated in order to collect the data and relevant information in the stipulated time.
The research instrument to be used by the researcher to simplify the data collected will be a questionnaire which will be circulated with the help of a google form for the ease and comfort of the respondents rather than collecting personal individual responses. Further the data collected from this questionnaire will be depicted pictorially for better accuracy and visualisation and sound understanding.
The following research on the given problem will be conducted using the following research and data analysis. The steps for the same are as follows;
- Data preparation and correction
- Matching with research objectives and problem at hand
- Developing a framework
- Identifying necessary and prompt pattern
Further the data collected will flow in the form of a content analysis and discourse analysis. Content analysis because the data collected will be documented in the form of texts and pictorially depicted with the help of relevant media. Discourse analysis because the data will include responses from various respondent and this come under the purview of interaction.
Brief into the Topic
What is Social Class?
Life in general is an amalgamation and mix of wealth, material possession, power and authority in various dimensions and quantities. This mixture actually determines our prestige and wealth in the society and this in turn defines where we stand and which social background we come from and this indeed is the genesis and meaning of social class. Economists when they talk or hint about social class they mean that a group of people having a likewise situation and position in the society are known to be a particular social class and this class is determined by the key necessities and determinants of life in general like the wealth of an individual, status quo and the ease of life. Social class further gets divided into upper class, middle class and the working class.
Social class is also referred to a group of people in a society holding the same position and the determinants of a social class are as follows:
Social class also refers to division among the society based on the social, financial and economic status of a person or resident, and when a large group of people share the same standards of living they are grouped into one such division and termed to be one such social class. It is one of the most prominent and important factor to determine the economics of a country and its standard of living as compared to the other world countries. Further in order to understand social class it is important to take a look at the characteristics and key constituencies of social class which are as follows:
- It is a system of hierarchy of status
- It is a system of social ranking which is decided upon the economic positions of people in a society
- It is marked by unequal distribution of power and wealth
- It is more than a mobile caste system
- It is where one’s status is achieved by his or her owns efforts rather than ascribed, assigned or inherited efforts
- It has some degree of permanency based on the class structures
- It is based on stratum consciousness that is class consciousness and solidarity
- It has distinctive modes of lifestyles and each class has its own cultural expression
- It is a system deeply rooted on recognition and superiority and also inferiority in relation to whom who stand below the others social class
- There is boundaries between the first and the last class and classes are transparent but not that easy flowing and fluid
- It is a complex of systems where each class is a new division and each social class is governed by a separate goals and rules of behaviour and way of living.
What is Social Culture
Social culture can be rightly defined as a complex set of rules and meanings, values and habits and therefore behaviours which are adopted by one or more groups of people which are referred to as different social groups of people based on which a social class can be formed and categorised. This term is also known as sociocultural and is a mix of both social and cultural factors of living which thereby includes traditions, morals, values, patterns and habits of individuals further dividing and collecting into groups of people.
This term is often used in sociological and marketing concepts and it means the most remarkable drivers of the way people in a society make decisions and what influences such decisions. An example of sociocultural behavior or study is the study in anthropology and the way anthropology can further be divided and classified based on such socio-cultural classism. Another example is how people study the pattern of other animals or human beings and how humans and their family backgrounds are known and deciphered.
What is Social Bias?
Social bias occurs when there is a social culture which leads to a social class of people and this bias is thereon created to distinguish and identify people and how some sections of society isolate the other sections of the society. Social bias often occurs when we deliberately or unknowingly make a judgment or pass a comment about another person or on certain groups, races, sexes. This happens because of our pre conceived notions that our mind frames up as soon as we see the person for the first time and then deliberates the same every time we see the person again. Such bias can take shape of both positive and negative beliefs and many a times it is instilled in us by our own surroundings, environment or people whom we often talk to and have our daily routine conversations with.
There are many forms of social bias existing around us which indeed lead us close to social classism and in the following research we would limit our scope on two broad categories of such social bias. Talking about the first one being that it creates an overall impression of a person when we see him for the first time and after on we see and feel about him the same way. This effect is termed as the halo effect or the halo social biasness. Like for example when we think a person is smart, we often add that he is pretty and good looking. Or when we say a person is not well dressed we assume him to be of an inferior social class than us.
The second type of social bias is what we call the group attribution error and this is because we as humans have tendency to assume things about specific sections or groups of society and frame opinions about their personal characteristics and preferences which include habits, values, decisions and their entire core system of living. Example that when we meet an elderly man who is wise, we assume that all elderly men are wise, or if we meet one corrupt police officer we might think that all of them are corrupt. Therefore social bias clearly shapes the way we think and perceive the other individuals around us.
Introduction to Social Class at Organizations
What is Social Class at Organizations?
We all know what exactly is social class, but we should also know that such a classism exists in various organizations and departments and affects people from each section of society. It is seen that class based inequality at the organization persists not only because of the external factors like bias and fancy clothes and reputation, but also by structural factors that discourage people from lower sections or classes of the society to seek position of power.
Professor Belmi a renowned sociologist also states that “Compared with individuals with relatively high social class, those with relatively low social class are less interested in seeking positions of power using political means, and as a result are less interested in seeking positions of power more broadly.”
Another reason pointed out for such a class based difference at organizations is the notion that political behaviour is required in advancement to better positions in the firm and therefore the low class people or employees are less benefited or privileged.
How does it Take Shape?
Social class takes various forms and shapes in an organization and therefore is considered such a robust, potent and distinct predictor of the way people think and act on such contentions in an organization. Based on social cognition, social class can be defined to be exist in an organization as a dimension of the self which is rooted in objective material resources like education, income, occupational prestige etc. and also corresponding subjective perceptions of the class divide and rank system and correlation. Further in organizations it takes place in the form of social relationships, in form of morality and in form of judgment and decision making. It is seen that in organizations too people’s warmth and competence are the two key determinants of their class and how they are treated at their workplace and indeed it reveals their dignity and respect.
What are the Prime Reasons for its Occurrence?
Social class at organizations can be proclaimed to occur from social perceptions and preconceived notions of individuals about their counterparts or peers at office. Taylor and Lobel state and reiterate the same by “People compare themselves to others frequently on economic dimensions. Social comparison is often referred as to an unavoidable aspect of perception during social interactions.”
Further Brickman & Bulman state that “social class in organizations based on perceptions functions as a means by which individuals gather information about the self, regulate their emotions and goals, manage uncertainty, and judge the normalcy of personal life events.” Also Taylor & Lobel further quote that “through comparisons on many occasions in social relationships, evidence indicates that these comparisons are frequently tuned to economic outcomes.”
Another reason for the occurrence of such social class at workplace is because an employee or rather an individual immediately perceivers and rapidly and accurately judges the social class of other employees based on varied amounts of knowledge and information. Further class in an organization and among people is usually determined by the food people eat, clothes they wear, the language they speak and how they speak, the background they belong to and the music and art they enjoy among others. Often when people engage in interactions with fellow individuals in order to socialize they indeed reveal their behaviour and taste and their cultural practices and renditions and this as a result allows observes to accurately communicate and intercept their social class and belonging in the society.
What are the Observations for its Neglect?
Social class in organizations can sometimes get neglected not deliberately but due to the accustomedness to that thing or habit. Often people judge a person’s social class based on their behaviour, values, attitude, culture, taste of varied experiences and when this pre conceived notion is once registered in the mind it is difficult to erase or vanish, and soon this image becomes common and permanent and though people might be undergoing or performing this classism everyday it would have normalised for them. This normalization is the real culprit and proves to be indeed detrimental and creates a lot of implications and fallacies.
For example an employee joins office and on his first day brags about his past and how rich he is, people around known that he is a show off and is very rich and therefore would be mean and will have attitude and this sets the pre conceived notion and now every time they see this person this notion would remind them of what an individual that person is and this paves way for the neglect of social classism, since every day the other employees must be treating him separately and as mean and rich and no one would take the initiative to talk to him and this would have become a normalised trend from both the employee who is isolated and the ones who are isolating him. This first of all creates the classism and class divide based on social interests and habits of an individual and this normalisation of everyday information and caricature of that employee is the real reason social class in organizations is neglected till now.
Different Types of Social Class
Social class according to our previous research means groups of people having similar levels of influence, status, and wealth and sociologists determine three main methods of determining social class which are as follows:
- Objective method – it analyses true and hard facts
- Subjective method – it asks people what they think of themselves
- Reputational method – it determines what people think of others
This class of people are the typical section of the society who fall below the poverty line and are indeed homeless, poor and unemployed. Such people are often not able to finish or even start their education and suffer from lack of medical health, sanitation and adequate care and attention and do not have the basic necessary resources. They need to be pushed to gain education or adopt vocational training habits. The media is the one who often subjectifies them and stigmatizes their section of society as the underclass who cannot take care of themselves nor provide welfare to their countless children. They do not contribute to the society and often become alcoholics, drug addicts and criminals.
This section of the society is the one who is the minimally educated group and the ones who engage in manual labour and tedious jobs in order to earn their livelihood with or without any prestige. These include unskilled workers like dishwashers, maids, and waitresses and are working to the extent that sometimes they remain unpaid and have no career advancement opportunities. They are often referred to as the working poor or the blue collar workers in a society. They fail to make more money than the middle class but however contribute their bit to the country’s economy and help the upper and middle class in their works.
This class is as the name suggests referred to as the intermediary or the sandwich class since they are not that well affluent not they that deprived. They include the white collar workers who have more money than the lower class and are more technically advanced and educated and have adequate vocational training and skills. The middle class is further divided into the lower middle class and the upper middle class. The former being so since it includes less educated people who manage to earn just enough to sustain their needs and regular demands and the latter being the ones who have a well settled and accomplished position in the society who are more diversed in terms of their skills and education.
This class only belongs to about 1-3 % of the people in a society and they are the very affluent ones who hold more than 20% of the nation’s wealth. They are also divided into the lower upper class and the upper-upper class wherein the former includes those who have earned new money and do not a family background of being that wealthy and the other being the well-established affluent households like most celebrities and business tycoons. The upper-upper class is well more established and fortunate as compared to the lower upper class. But however the money comes in, both the sections of the upper class are exceptionally rich and both groups have more money than they would actually spend, which indeed leaves them with a lot of leisure and dun time rather time to cultivate affluent interests.
Effect of Social Class on Organizations
As we know that social class is basically large groups of people having similar life goals and habits who form various division in the society. Sometimes this social class can affect people in organizations as well prove to be quite detrimental and therefore it needs to be made sometimes uncovered or visible since a person’s experience of class impacts his or her behavior and value systems therefore forming perceptions in the eyes of the other people. Some of the common effects of social class on organizations are as follows:
- It affects relationship among individuals and also leads to dismal communication efforts
- It determines one’s goals and objectives, but underlines the importance of the team or the overall goal sought to be achieved
- It creates a sense of belonging at the same time a sense of exclusion with people around
- Influences people’s perceptions relating to money, power, wealth, education, polices and management hierarchy.
Social class in organizations often takes place as Effect on culture; Effect on thought; Effect on people’s actions; Effect on working environment; Effect on Pay check and Effect on recruitment and this proves to be bad and fateful for the organization thereby reducing the company’s overall growth and goals for the financial period or term.
Social class in organizations affects the culture of the organization since social class now is not only the wealth you hold but also includes the clothes you wear, the music you hear and how you speak. Various physical and personal characteristics determine social class in organizations. Social class is said to impact physical health of an individual. Social class has effect on a person’s physical health as mentioned, the ability to receive adequate care and medical attention and the right balance of nutrition and their life expectancy. This can be understood with this example that poorer neighbourhoods have more fast food chain options and local vendors than more expensive shops and grocery stores, while a rich neighbourhood has more grocery stores and stores will help in checking the right balance of daily nutrients. Similarly the poorer neighbourhoods have lesser recreational facilities and more crime rates than the richer neighbourhood which indeed cultivates and leads to a decrease in the feasibility of daily routine exercise and the perfect blend of life.
Another instance showing the impact and effect of social class is insurance and how it differs from various social classes and organizations. It is seen that upper and middle class people work and are employed in places which secure their health insurance, but the lower class are based in occupations which do not provide any such benefits to the employees. Many people who don’t have good health insurance benefits from their job, the cost of insurance is prohibitive. Without insurance the cost of medical health is really high and can prove to be a burden and liability than an asset. Also many unsecured or poorer sections of the society do not have access to preventive care or quality treatment and life. This group is considered to be more prone to infant mortality, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and various other physical injuries which cause them various disabilities.
Social class at workplace also impacts and effects the mental health of an individual as mental health is described as a psychological well-being of a person or the absence or presence of any mental disorder. From the fundamentalism of holism, mental health can be referred to be individual’s ability to enjoy life and to demonstrate psychological resilience when confronted with problems and challenges. The World Health Organization defines mental health as the well-being of an individual realizes his or her own abilities and can cope with normal stresses of life and can work productively and fruitfully and therefore is able to make a contribution to his or her community.
Mental health at workplace among different sections and classes take shape in different forms. Lower class people may be overburdened by more financial stress while the upper class might experience stress from intense social tendencies associated with elite circles and groups. Mental health therefore in a society is a socially constructed and well defined concept, different societies, different groups and cultures and institutions and professions have varied ways of conceptualizing the nature and cause of this fallacy and in deciding what interventions are correct and appropriate. Different members and groups of social classes have different levels of access to mental health interventions and to the information about such health. Therefore we can say that the diagnosis and treatment of such mental disorders varies from one social class to another based on the community where he or she belong.
Social class also affects family life of a person including the marriage and child bearing pattern, household composition and the stability of the residence. Taking an example we can see that in the United States the upper and middle class people have less divorce and break up of marriage than the lower class ones since the lower ones have more attributes towards financial stress and this could lead to the breakup of their marriage. Sometimes the geographical conditions and circumstances define what social class gets affected and how. For example nations which have high level of fertility, the upper class tend to have more number of children and in nations where is there low level of fertility, the lower class tend to have more number of children. Social class has a very cause and effect relationship with the family life of an individual including the family composting and relationship. For instance, single-parent households have lower social class since they violate other social norms and single-parent families contribute more to the financial and social instability. A single parent often faces higher cost of living and there is much of financial stress.
Social class at organizations also takes place in respect of education and the level of educational attainment is tied with social classes, with upper class acquiring more or better higher degrees from more prestigious schools. Education is a very important component relating with social class both directly and indirectly. In the former, the individuals of upper classes are more eased at getting better quality and prestige of education than those of other lower classes while on the latter part people who land themselves with god higher education indeed end up getting better jobs and salaries. Similarly as education and social class are intertwined, stratification in education also contributes to the stratification of social classes.
Another important effect in terms of education is that upper class parents are not only able to send their children to exclusive schools, but also to private school which are more accomplished and well set-up than the public or government schools. We can also say that educational inequality is a deciding factor that perpetuates the class divide across various generations. Social class at organizations is also closely related to the individual’s religious attributes and beliefs and not only with the religiosity of that individual. It is noticed that lower class is often affiliated with fundamentalist religions and section groups. Middle class is associated with more formal sources like temples and churches and the upper class are considered to be the ones associated with the rich funds which govern the religious ideologies of others in their community.
Social class is also related to politics and how individuals from different classes politically manipulate and create and influence. Political participation is whether a person stands or contests to vote or not in elections, donates in campaigns or attends public meetings and forums and conducts panel discussions. Political influence can be understood as a concept wherein one’s political participation gains the maximum result and output. For instance wealthy people who are educated are the ones who often decide to vote and donate and in turn their ideologies influence the society and their community. This trend states and supports the claim that people of higher classes have more political influence and participation than the people of the lower classes. Further it is also stated that the social class of a person determines the crime associated with the persons and the criminal justice administration. For example people of lower classes tend to involve themselves in petty crimes, whereas the people of higher classes are more likely involved in crimes such as money laundering and exploitation.
It is also seen that one of the most detrimental effect of social class on organizations is the pay and selection disparity. It is often seen that people with better influence and contact are the ones having better chances of selection and that of the lower classes are not often considered. Similarly a lower class person when hired often settles for a very meagre price and package and this is because of the lack of education, lack of negotiation skills and moreover since he is more likely to save his job than earn money and also that he is in no place to argue with the employer’s since they belong to a higher class. While on the other hand people belonging to the upper class of the society often tend to negotiate well and settle for a better price and package.
In one of the interviews to the Forbes magazine, a manager stated that while most managers would deny that job’s candidate’s social class does not matter but the reality is that the socioeconomic position of the applicant is taken into consideration within the second they speak from and this circumstance that limits economic mobility and perpetuates inequality. From the above situations and analysis we can clearly understand that social class at organization does exist and does affect and impact all the individuals in the organization more often being the lower classes of the community. It is therefore clear that we need to do a lot more work to ensure that people in organizations are treated more fairly without any preconceived prejudices and therefore social class bias unfairly holds large groups of people back and this simultaneously pushes the others forward without merit and actual consideration.
Elaborative Study of Social Class in Workplace
Social Class and its Varied Dimensions
Social class is related and interconnected to almost all fields such as psychology, medicine, sociology and other disciplines as well and the effects of the same are the mechanisms underlying the perplexity. The New England Journal of Medicine states that “despite the importance of socioeconomic status to health, no one knows quite how it operates, it is perhaps one of the most mysterious determinants of health.” According to Johnson & Krueger “economic mechanisms post that higher class individuals have access to more tangible resources such as housing and transportation that provide opportunities to ameliorate their outcomes, relative to their lower class counterparts.”
Further Elo and Bertrand state that “social class provides access to technologies and innovations, such as modern treatments for heart diseases and direct deposits of paycheques, that facilitate decision-making reduce errors and ultimately contribute to success.” Also Wilkinson explaining his theory of social class and how it contributes in the field of medicines states that “social class affects biological variables that, in turn influence life and career outcomes. Research has documented relations between social class and psychological markers such as cortisol levels and blood pressure.” The study by Chen, Cohen & Miller 2010 also elucidate that perceptions of threat and family chaos among lower social class affects biological systems in a persistent manner, so that biological changes in childhood that stem from encountering difficult social environments leave a biological residue that increases susceptibility to chronic diseases in adulthood.”
In a study by Johnson & Krueger it was found that “evidence finds that there is not alone the effects of social class but also includes the economic and biological perspectives. Subjective perceptions of one’s financial situations mediated the effect of objective income on life-satisfaction, highlighting the potential importance of the psychological interpretation of one’s condition.” Also the research of Kessler & Cleary state that “lower class individuals feel more distress than their higher class counterparts even when facing the same stressors in the environment.” Further research elucidates that higher and lower class individuals respond differently to the same conditions, due to their differences in expectations and desires for material wealth, perceived control over their life and feelings of self-importance and respect.
Social Class and Morality
Social class as we know affects every resource and standing available, it does have an active role to play when it comes to dealing with morality and the core principles and value system and individual holds and continues to prevail over the due course of his or her life. According to Wilkinson & Pickett 2009 it is stated that “the concept of social class invites questions about the ethicality of disparities in wealth within and across nations.” In one of the instance it was observed that Morgan Stanley paid its employees about $14 billion and the renowned company Goldman Sachs paid around $16 billion. Also the bonuses issued by them were high compared to other companies within the same league. This documents several instances in which the higher class executives displayed questionable morality.
Research by Gino & Pierco and Moore, Tetlock and Tanlu state that “social class may increase our understanding of a fundamental problem in organization science; why organization members at times lie, cheat or undermine others.” In the theory of Graham & Haidt it was stated that “moral foundations theory posits that current academic conceptions of morality focus too narrowly on fairness and harm, areas of concern to middle class people. Also it states that by considering the relation of social class with morality researchers better understand how individuals of different ethnicities, political beliefs and social class conceive morality.” Analysing on this theory the famous sociologist Kesebir defined the functions of morality as “moral systems are interlocking sets of values, virtues, norms, practices, identities, institutions, technologies and evolving psychological mechanisms that work together to supress or regulate selfishness and make social life possible.” Further moral foundations theory state that experiences, narratives, social constructions and personal constructions shape morality.
Social Class and Social Relationships
Social class in organizations often takes place as social relationships and this has become an important goal of organizational science as defined by Dutton, Worline and Frost. Therefore it can be stated that social class and social relationships go hand in hand and often are correlated with one another and findings reveal that social class creates differences in levels of social engagement, and also that others act differently towards higher and lower class individuals.
According to Kraus and Piff and Snibbe & Markus “lower and higher social class individuals experience different material and environmental conditions. The environments of lower class individuals are relatively unstable, challenging and dangerous whereas the environment of higher class are relatively more predictable and safe. In such circumstances the lower class individuals experience a reduced sense of control in other own life outcomes, which higher class individuals may develop a sense of control over their relatively benign environments.”
According to Lachman & Weaver “higher class individuals also value and develop control because of better education and association between action and outcomes.” Also according to Kohn “higher class individuals experience more personal control, self-direction and self-reliance than the lower class counterparts and the research in sociology show that there is a well-established link between social class and self-reliance in different countries and political systems.”
Also according to Rico, Gil & Gibson “the effect of social class on social engagement and relationships may have important consequences for interpersonal coordination in organizations. These interpersonal conditions emerges when the actions, knowledge and objectives of organization members are integrated and aligned.” Also according to the theory established by Maddux, Mullen & Galinsky it is contended that “group members who are socially engaged should anticipate and dynamically adjust their behaviour to the actions and needs to others, thereby facilitating coordination. Also socially engaged group members should be better positioned to engage in complementary behaviours that enhance liking, trust and coordinative performance.
Social Class and Decision Making
It is clearly noted that social class does influence the amount of risk a person takes and can enter into or how much risk a particular section of the community is willing to take, therefore social class does influence the decision making of the social classes and thus social classes do have an effect on an individual’s decision making. For instance it is a clear fact that people belonging to higher classes will often tend to make more risky decisions since they are more financially viable and settled and can afford if that risk does not pay.
Whereas on the other hand people belonging to the lower class are hesitant to take risk and often intercept a lot before deciding whether to take a risk or not. Further Griskevicius and Tybur state that “social class predicts how much risk individuals taken when facing adversity and studies have manipulated the harshness and unpredictability of the environment by having participants read a newspaper article on recent trends towards violence and death in the society than lower class individuals.” According to Lerner & Keltner “optimism and positive effect hae been found to increase the amount of risk people are agreeing to take.” “social class is also considered to shape attributions and judgements of the causes of other people’s behaviours because they lack personal control” as stated by Christie & Barling.
Measuring and Manipulation of Social Class Mindsets
Social class at organizations can be interpreted and assessed in various forms and ways and this can be put to effect from a list of measures and manipulations incorporated from already existing research data. There are three main objectives or determinants of social class which are namely education, occupation and income. As stated by Duncan “that researchers focus exclusively on one of the three components. Example, sociologists have from the inception and traditionally prioritized on the occupational goals and objective.”
Taking the objective of education into consideration we have Grossman and Vamum stating that “there are two main measuring approaches in the educational perspective. One being the continuous scale which begins from level 1 being high school and level 4 being postgraduate, and the second being creating the dichotomous variables for education, like bachelors versus some college or less. The rationale for such a theory is that the model level of education attainment is specified and known and this represents a qualitatively different level of education.” Further Matthews and Gallo defined the two main advantages of education which are “it remains stable after your adulthood, facilitating casual inference and also that it is often easily available for research participants.”
According to Johnson “most approaches involve the continuous scale and this varies from study to study. Dichotomous variables are rarely created for the income group.” In the regard of occupation Kohn states that “occupational prestige depends upon more of contextual factors such as the country where the study is taking place, further in the examination of class differences is self-reliance.” Further manipulations in regard of social class happens similarly and is activated for the corresponding cognitions and motivations that arise from a lower or higher class in the society. It is also important to understand that social class is not manipulated so that those with lower ranks can also be given a chance to become higher class individuals, and those who already are under the higher class list be turned into lower class individuals if they fail to deliver or perform up to the expectations. Therefore higher and lower class mind-sets are temporarily activated and this effect of these Mindsets on their behaviour can be examined and monitored regularly.
Embracing Social Class
Social class as a whole both at organizational and individual levels needs to be examined properly and accurately and this social class form and explains various patterns of organizational behaviour, including beliefs and values and the fairness of organizations, explanations of the how the co-workers react and behave and also how to take and make good risk relating decisions and finally the coordination at support interest within the groups and dyads. In the words of Ones, Dilchert and Judge it is elucidated that “the core area of organizational science, human resources or personnel psychology, is particularly interested in identifying the predictors of job performance, so as to inform hiring decisions in organizations.”
Also Kraus and Piff have stated that “the risks curtailed with social class is that some results of the research perceived could be politically incorrect. Social class is bound to be provocative, controversial and infused with ideology. Also in some cases the upper class is highlighted as a negative light, showing that they are less generous and empathic than their counterparts.” Also Noble, Norman and Farah specify the weakness of the lower class as “lower class individual’s exhibit reduced executive functioning. Another risk of social class is that it is thought to be politically incorrect because it is seen as perpetuating stereotypes about classism.”
Robert states that “an additional cost of overlooking social class in organizational science is the failure to explain several organizational behaviours and outcomes. Research in the disciplines on which organizational behaviour draws has shown that social class is robust predictor of behaviour which should give organizational scientists confidence that measures of the social class of employees will predict their behaviour.” Also Wilkinson states that “social class explanation of organizational behaviour may be today, they should become more important in the future, because inequalities in social class are growing in many countries.”
Further Pappas elucidates that “as the range of social class widens, it may provide even stronger explanations of organizational behaviour. Indeed research has shown that social class inequalities in mortality are increasing over time. Therefore incorporating social class should explain more variance in organizational behaviour.”
Social classism at workplace and organizations affect various contemporary social problems and effects the behaviours and notions of the individuals working at the firm. There are various problems employees are dealing with when compared with social class in an organization and as a result it leads to unproductivity, unhappiness and significant loss of work time and therefor costing not only that company but the entire country billions of dollars every year.
One of the major setbacks and problems of employees is poverty wherein there is lack of resources and livelihood, and in households where there is only one earing person it becomes very difficult and cumbersome to sustain. Often there are days where employees families have to struggle for food or have to work hungry and this results in lack of productivity and this leads to social classism among other employees from particularly richer household’s and richer sections of the community.
Often defeated by the curse of poverty, many employees end up becoming prey to drug and alcohol. Alcohol and majorly drugs are very detrimental to any work atmosphere and society in general and this results in countless deaths and injuries every year. Research reveals and finds that if the consumption and use of these habits are reduced, it would lead to more working hours and more lives saved and secured. Often it is seen that the poorer sections of the society are prey to alcohol and drugs since they are the more deprived ones, whereas the richer sections of the society consume the same as leisure or passing time or rather due to too much workload. Every organization should create recreational centres in the workplace which engage employees in to releasing of stress and pressure and thereby reducing their burden and reducing their consumption.
Another major issue especially in India is domestic violence which still continues to prevail in the lower classes of the society. Employees often frustrated and angry remove their anger by beating their family members, considering them as weak and helpless commodities. Many of the women were subject to such violence and had often revealed that this impacted their work timings and productivity a lot and proved to be detrimental.
Sexism and racism is one prevailing trend in almost every organization and there is no suppose that it is not reducing. As we have discussed that employees frame pre-conceived notions of one another based on which the other employees are judged and categorised into these various sections of the society, and this differentiation leads roots to sexism and racism at the workplace. Discrimination often based on colour, race and gender affects the individual’s mental health a lot and this limits their productivity and also creates thoughts which indeed lead to harming and injury to the body.
Another major issue at organisations is that when racism and sexism prevails and people are marked and ranked based on their attributes and first appearance, this leads to partiality among groups, secluding of members and this indeed affects the secluded members promotions and bonus. Often employers also consider one’s social class indirectly during interviews and set a pre decided contention whether the candidate fits into the picture or not and what is his social background. This indeed eliminates the principle of fairness and equal opportunity for all and this leads to such social classism at workplace, that despite unknowingly the occurrence of the same continues to prevail.
- Creating a merit-based advancement in organizations could help in removing this class based classism.
- Making promotions and competitions through which people feel in a better position and confident more transparent and clean and providing clear metric and deciding the evaluation categories beforehand, judging competitors on their skill and competence rather than class.
- Particularly eliminating and eradicating office politics or not performing the same very openly could solve major problems of social class at organizations.
- The firm’s culture should be reviewed periodically through a pre decided date every month and also efforts should be made to solve class based problems and more social accepting initiatives should be entertained and practiced.
- Promotion cycles and hiring periods should become more transparent and clear and the objectives and rationale behind the selection of a person must be highlighted in front of every member and the reasons for the same must be elucidated.
- Every organization should enforce that a nurturing and diverse workforce is maintained and the balance among the classes is evenly distributed.
- Strategies to adopt and eliminate social classism should be thought upon and be open to amendments and strategies like creating equal number of seats from both richer and lower classes should be taken into consideration.
- Apprenticeships and work experience should be provided in order to develop cross-cultural sensitization and to imbibe the ideology of equal and equilibrium classism.
- In order to make the interview process more transparent candidates should be told their markings and why they were not selected and the criterions for assessment of the same.
- Career progression should be encouraged and supported irrespective of the classism and favoursim, in order to allow people of all backgrounds since employees to diversify their goals and skillset.
- Ensuring social mobility should also be one of the key motives of every organization in order to ensure everyone is on the same level and page.
Social class therefore we know can affect and destruct organizations a lot and therefore it is right to call it a defilement to any organization and individual since it not only affects the decreased attainment for the lower classes and poorer sections of the community, but also creates work disparities and indeed hampers the company’s productivity and the country’s income and economy.
Durkheim states that “education teaches the pupils the norms and values of society” and since we call ourselves the more favoured or privileged section of the society having attained good level of higher education, we should make it a rule to eliminate social classism at organizations and workplaces. As we all know there are several determinants of social class like education, occupation, income and wealth etc. it is important to focus completely on one or create a balance including all of them. The balance is more favourable an option since it allows more flexibility and productivity.
We should make it a mandate to judge people on their physical attributes, rather to know them personally and talk to them is the actual code of conduct that one should follow and profess. We also know that social class affects every individual along with his family and contributes various life threatening instances, therefore we should eradicate it from our daily routine and therefore I would conclude that social classism at organizations is definately a defilement and a discrepancy that is just like a virus.
Q1. What is meant by the term social class?
Q2. How is social class present at an organization?
Q3. What are the types of social class?
Q4. How can the problems at workplace caused by social class be assessed?
Q5. What is the history and background of the study?
Q6. How significant and relevant is the study?
Q7. How can the data be collected statistically and further analysed?
Q8. How can the problems of social class be countered and what better policies and regulations be suggested?
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