Social Class in the Twenty First Century

In the twenty-first century, assessing one's social class is no longer a straightforward task because categories have become blurred and the boundaries are no longer well defined or fixed. Now one's social class would be decided by one's life-style choices, consumption practices, time spent on leisure, patterns of social interaction, occupation, political leanings, personal values, educational level, and/or health and nutritional standards.

Since, in global capitalism, inter- and intra-class mobility is not only socially acceptable but encouraged, people do not develop a singular class-consciousness or distinct class culture. Instead, they make an effort to achieve self-representation and vie for the acceptance of their chosen peer group. The progress of technology has also helped provide access to comparable and often identical status symbols to people of different class backgrounds across the globe. At the same time, however, as sociologist Pierre Bourdieu argues in his treatise Distinction (1984), the dominant social classes tend to possess not only wealth but "cultural capital" as well. In matters of dress, this capital manifests itself in the possession of refined taste and sensibilities that are passed down from generation to generation or are acquired in educational establishments.

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