Class discrimination

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Class discrimination, also known as classism, is prejudice or discrimination on the basis of social class which still occurs in societies around the world today. It includes individual attitudes, behaviors, systems of policies and practices that are set up to benefit the upper class at the expense of the lower class.[1]


Socioeconomic, racial/ethnic and gender inequalities in academic achievement have been widely reported in the United States, but how these three axes of inequality intersect to determine academic and non-academic outcomes among school-aged children is not well understood.[2]

Class structures existed in a simplified form in pre-agricultural societies, but it has evolved into a more complex and established following the establishment of permanent agriculture-based civilizations with a food surplus.[3] Classism started to be practiced around the 18th century.[4]

Institutional versus personal classism[edit]

The term classism can refer to personal prejudice against lower classes as well as to institutional classism, just as the term racism can refer either strictly to personal prejudice or to institutional racism. The former has been defined as "the ways in which conscious or unconscious classism is manifest in the various institutions of our society".[5]

The term "interpersonal" is sometimes used in place of "personal" as in "institutional classism (versus) interpersonal classism"[6] and terms such as "attitude" or "attitudinal" may replace "interpersonal" as contrasting with institutional classism as in the Association of Magazine Media's definition of classism as "any attitude or institutional practice which subordinates people due to income, occupation, education and/or their economic condition".[7]

Classism is also sometimes broken down into more than two categories as in "personal, institutional and cultural" classism.[8] It is common knowledge in sociolinguistics that metasocial language abounds in lower registers, thus the slang for various classes or racial castes.

Media representation[edit]

Class discrimination can be seen in many different forms of media such as television shows, films and social media. Class discrimination in the media displays the knowledge of what people feel and think about classicism. When seeing class discrimination in films and television shows, people are influenced and believe that is how things are in real life, for whatever class is being displayed. Media is a big influence on the world today, with that something such as classism is can be seen in many different lights. Usually, the lower income people are displayed in the media as dirty, lack of education and manners and homeless.[9] From both sides of that being displayed in the media, people are able to take what they see, whether that be true or not and believe what they want to believe. People can use the media to learn more about different social classes[10] or use the media, such as social media to influence others on what they believe.[11] In some cases, people who are in a social class that is portrayed in a bad way by the media can be effected in school and social life as "[t]eenagers who grew up in poverty reported higher levels of discrimination, and the poorer the teens were, the more they experienced discrimination".[12]

A concrete example of classism in the media is the fictional character Homer Simpson from The Simpsons who is portrayed as a thick, dumb, balding man with lack of education and manners.


The European Convention on Human Rights contains protections against social class discrimination, but only a few signatory states have signed and ratified these protections. Those that have signed and ratified this have implemented domestic laws against favela discrimination because of social class (in the same way that race discrimination, sex discrimination or age discrimination have been legislated against).[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kadi, Joanna (1996). Thinking Class. South End Press. ISBN 0-89608-548-1.
  2. ^ Bécares, Laia; Priest, Naomi (27 October 2015). "Understanding the Influence of Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Class on Inequalities in Academic and Non-Academic Outcomes among Eighth-Grade Students: Findings from an Intersectionality Approach". PLOS ONE. 10 (10): e0141363. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0141363. ISSN 1932-6203.
  3. ^ Peter N. Stearns (Narrator). A Brief History of the World Course No. 8080 [Audio CD]. The Teaching Company. ASIN B000W595CC.
  4. ^ Young, Serinity; Katie Cannon (1999). Serinity Young, ed. Encyclopedia of Women and World Religion (Print). Macmillan. p. 181. ISBN 0028648609. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
  5. ^ "Classism Definitions". Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  6. ^ Langhout, Regina Day; Rosselli, Francine; Feinstein, Jonathan (Winter 2007), "Assessing Classism in Academic Settings", The Review of Higher Education, 30 (2): 145–184, doi:10.1353/rhe.2006.0073
  7. ^ "Glossary". Archived 9 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ Adams, Maurianne; Bell, Lee Anne; Griffin, Pat, eds. (2007). Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice (2nd ed.). Routledge. p. 317. ISBN 978-0-415-95199-9.
  9. ^ "Portrayal of Minorities in the Film, Media and Entertainment Industries". Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  10. ^ "Race & Ethnicity". Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  11. ^ "Classism, Accountability, and Social Media". Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  12. ^ "Social-class discrimination contributes to poorer health". Retrieved 18 March 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bowker, Geoffrey C., and Susan Leigh Star. Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences. MIT Press, 1999.
  • Capuano, Angelo. 'Giving Meaning to 'Social Origin' in International Labour Organization ('ILO') Conventions, the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth): 'Class' Discrimination and Its Relevance to the Australian Context', (2016) 39(1) UNSW Law Journal 84 (available on SSRN:
  • A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn.
  • Hill, Marcia, and Esther Rothblum. Classism and Feminist Therapy: Counting Costs. New York: Haworth Press, 1996.
  • Hooks, Bell. Where we stand: class matters. New York & London: Routledge, 2000.
  • Gans, Herbert. The War Against the Poor, 1996.
  • Homan, Jacqueline S. Classism For Dimwits. Pennsylvania: Elf Books, 2007/2009.
  • Packard, Vance. Status Seekers, 1959.
  • Beegle, Donna M. See Poverty - Be the Difference, 2009.
  • Leondar-Wright, Betsy. Class Matters: Cross-Class Alliance Building for Middle-Class Activists: New Society Publishers, 2005.

External links[edit]