Social Class

Lens: Type: Characteristic
Social Class:

A classification based on a person’s social and economic status.

Social class is a classification of people based on their social and economic standing. People are born into a social class, and they can move to different social classes for various reasons. Social class does not entirely define a person; however, it can indicate the challenges a person has had to overcome in their daily lives. People in lower social classes tend to have more health conditions and also more emotional hardships than people in other social classes (Bjornsdottir and Rule, 2019). Social class can also represent the privileges a person has that enable a particular type of lifestyle.

Social Class Examples

  • Lower Class
  • Working Class
  • Middle Class
  • Upper-Middle Class
  • Upper Class

Researching Social Class

Researching social class can be helpful when exploring ways socioeconomic factors cause problems for some people and provide access to others. Results from this research can suggest why people have advantages over others. It can also reveal clues as to why a group of people may view others differently based on their social class.

Questions to Ask About Social Class

  • What is this person’s current social class?
  • Into what social class was this person born?
  • How does social class provide opportunities or create barriers for this person?
  • How do others perceive this person’s social class? Are these perceptions harmful in some ways?

Look for These When Researching Social Class

  • The quality of a person’s possessions
  • What neighborhoods/what areas people live
  • Ways a person talks about their social class


References and sources that support the inclusion of this Aspects of Experiences for Design component.

Social Sciences

Bjornsdottir, R. T., & Rule, N. O. (2019). Negative emotion and perceived social class. Emotion. doi:10.1037/emo0000613

Dzul-Church, V., Cimino, J. W., Adler, S. R., Wong, P., & Anderson, W. G. (2010). I’m sitting here by myself.’: experiences of patients with serious illness at an urban public hospital. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 13(6), 695-701 7p. doi:10.1089/jpm.2009.0352

Kadushin, C. (2012). Understanding Social Networks: Theories, Concepts, and Findings. New York: Oxford University Press.

Keltner, D. (2011). Social Class as Culture. Retrieved October 29, 2019 from

Kraus, M. W., Piff, P. K., & Keltner, D. (2011). Social Class as Culture: The Convergence of Resources and Rank in the Social Realm. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20(4), 246-250. doi:10.1177/0963721411414654

Lovell, K., Lamb, J., Gask, L., Bower, P., Waheed, W., Chew-Graham, C., . . . Dowrick, C. (2014). Development and evaluation of culturally sensitive psychosocial interventions for under-served people in primary care. BMC Psychiatry, 14, 217. doi:10.1186/s12888-014-0217-8

Molly, S.-T., Renee, S., Ann, G., Richard, S., & Naomi, D. (2010). Culturally Sensitive Community Engaged Research With African American Young Women: Lessons Learned. Journal of Community Health Nursing, 27(3), 160. doi:10.1080/07370016.2010.494456

Shreffler, M. J. (1999). Culturally sensitive research methods of surveying rural/frontier residents. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 21(3), 426-435. doi:10.1177/01939459922043866


Bird, R., & Newport, F. (2017). What Determines How Americans Perceive Their Social Class? Retrieved October 29, 2019 from