Gilbert model was developed by Dennis Gilbert as a means of a more
effective way of classifying people in a given society into social
3 Six social classes
3.1 Capitalist class
3.2 Upper middle class
3.3 Lower middle class
3.4 Working class
3.5 Working-poor class
4 See also
6 Further reading
Karl Marx believed that social class is determined by ownership (or
non-ownership) of the "means of economic production" - ownership of
raw materials, farm land, coal mines, factories, etc. His theory
contains the idea of a struggle between two social classes - the
Bourgeoisie (the capital owners) and the
Proletariat (the non-owner
Max Weber agreed that social class is determined mostly on
the basis of unequal distribution of economic power and hence the
unequal distribution of opportunity. He also saw that honor, status
and social prestige were key factors in determining what social class
people belong to. "Life-styles" such as where a person lives and the
schools they attend are very important in determining social class.
"Life-chances" also determined social class. If a person becomes a
respectable member of society it will raise their social class. Party
affiliations can also influence social class.
Even though Marx's and Weber's research were both taken into
consideration when trying to create an effective means of social
stratification, they were not weighted the same. Although the Gilbert
model is based on the assumption that class structure develops out of
the economic system like the Marxist theory, it is still has much more
in common with Weber's more modern theory that dealt with socialism.
The aspect that Marxism takes into consideration when referring to the
economy is "what a specific person owns determines their class" - a
capitalistic viewpoint. If a man owns a factory, he is going to be in
a higher social class than someone who works in the factory. In
Marxist theory, the middle class is not emphasized or described, but
it is clearly present in the Gilbert model. The
Gilbert model focuses
more on income when referring to how the economic system places people
in classes. The income of a person is directly related to a person's
educational preparation because better education provides for a better
occupation which in turn raises their class level. Weber's model whose
ideas suggests that it is not just the economic aspect that determines
a person’s class in a stratification system, but it is also highly
based on social and political aspects as well that help place people
into the class that adequately represents their life. The three main
factors that Gilbert used to propose his model were income, education,
Six social classes
The six social classes that provide the basis for the Gilbert model
are determined based on the assumption of how class structure develops
out of the economic system.
(over $750,000, mostly from assets) Even though the capitalist class
is a very small class of super rich capitalists at the top of the
hierarchy, its impact on economy and society is far beyond their
numbers. These people contribute their money to political parties and
are often owners of newspapers or television stations. They have
investments that affect millions of people in the labor force. They
tend to only associate with other people from their own class, rarely
interacting with people from an inferior class. Even their children
are usually segregated attending only the most elite preparatory
schools and universities.
Upper middle class
($70,000 or more) The upper middle class is the group in society most
shaped by formal education. A college degree is usually required and
graduate studies are becoming increasingly required. Most people in
this class are technicians, professionals, managers, officials, and
proprietors. Children in high school strive to prepare themselves for
upper middle class jobs because these type of jobs are symbols of
success. Upper-middle-class people are able to purchase status symbols
such as cars and homes. They are convinced that they deserve what they
have achieved and are mostly satisfied that they have achieved a
proper share of the American dream.
Lower middle class
(About $40,000) To attain a middle class job it takes at least a high
school diploma. However, many in the middle class have received some
form of additional training besides college. The most educated will
become semi-professionals, or have low-level managerial jobs. Sales
and craft people are also included in this social class. Most
Americans consider themselves to be middle class even if they are
really not. It is estimated that really about a third of the
population is middle class.
(About $25,000) The core of this working class is made up of
semi-skilled machine operators. Clerks and salespeople whose tasks are
habitual and mechanized and require practically no skill beyond
literacy. Brief on the job training can also be considered to be a
part of this class. It is estimated that this class includes roughly a
third of the population.
(Below $20,000) The working poor class includes unskilled laborers,
people in service jobs and some of the lower-paid factory workers.
Income is decided on the number of workers in the family and the
amount of weeks that they work. The majority of adults have not
finished high school. Unable to save money and when retired the
working poor depend heavily on their social security pensions to live.
(Below $13,000) These people are under-employed. They suffer from low
education, low employability, and/or low income. Some can not work
because of their age or they might have a specific disability. Hard
times might be magnified because they belong to a minority group who
suffers discrimination in the work force
Although the social hierarchy is most obvious at the extremes, it is
much harder to either rise or fall from them as well. Differences
between classes begin to become blurred when moving away from one of
the extremes and towards the center to where the middle and working
classes are. It is difficult to get a precise classification.
Karl Marx (1867). Das Kapital. Retrieved 2009-10-23.
^ Reinhard Bendix (1977). Max Weber. pp. 85–87. Retrieved
^ Dennis Gilbert (2002). The American Class Structure: In An Age of
Growing Inequality. Pine Forge Press. ISBN 978-1-4129-5414-3.
Gilbert, Dennis, and Joseph A. Kahal. American Class Structure. 4th
ed. Belmont: Wadsworth Company, 1992. 1-355.
Hurst, Charles E. Social Inequality. 6th ed. Boston: Pearson