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Wordswarms From Years Past

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Adjacent Words

class structure
class struggle
class Symphyla
class Tardigrada
class Taxopsida
class Tentaculata
class Thaliacea
class Tiliomycetes
class Trematoda
class Turbellaria
class Ulvophyceae
class war
class warfare
class Xanthophyceae
class Zygomycetes
class-action suit
classes of supply
classic hemochromatosis
classical architecture
classical ballet

class, social definitions

Britannica Concise

Group of people within a society who possess the same socioeconomic status. The term was first widely used in the early 19th cent., following the industrial and political revolutions of the late 18th cent. The most influential early theory of class was that of K. Marx, who focused on how one class controls and directs the process of production while other classes are the direct producers and the providers of services to the dominant class. The relations between the classes were thus seen as antagonistic. M. Weber emphasized the importance of political power and social status or prestige in maintaining class distinctions. Despite controversies over the theory of class, there is general agreement on the characteristics of the classes in modern capitalist societies. The upper class is distinguished above all by the possession of largely inherited wealth (in the U.S., more than 30% of all wealth is concentrated in the hands of the top 1% of property owners, and nearly two-thirds in the top 5%). The working class consists mostly of manual laborers and food- and service-industry workers who earn moderate or low wages and have little or no access to inherited wealth. The middle class includes the middle and upper levels of clerical workers, those engaged in technical and professional occupations, supervisors and managers, and such self-employed workers as small-scale shopkeepers, businesspeople, and farmers. There is also often an urban substratum of permanently jobless and underemployed workers termed the underclass. See also bourgeoisie.


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