How Is Social Class Measured?

Many people understand social class in measures of economic, cultural or political terms when it comes to the different groups that people fall into. There are other measures of social class such as race, sexuality, education, disability or criminal record. One important thing to remember, when it comes to social class and status, is that every person falls into more than one category. These categories often overlap one another.

When it comes down to measuring these different and overlapping statuses, there are three methods to use in sociology. These methods are the subjective, reputational and objective methods. In the subjective method, people define themselves and the social class to which they identify. In the reputational method, people define others based on the behavior they observe in other people. In the objective method, clearly measurable standards determine a person’s social class.

These three methods of measuring a person’s social class come from two different points of view. These points of view belong to the nominalists and the realists. In the nominalist view, a person’s social class is a matter of how other people perceive them. In the realist’s view, a person’s social class is a matter of how they behave and act.