This is one of the very best discussions of the system of social stratification in the United States that I have ever seen, both inside the academic world and outside. This is really great work.
By Will Schnack
Evolution of Consent
Class refers to one’s political and economic position, while status includes one’s cultural standing, or the esteem one’s culture has for them, which is affected by one’s class, but not wholly restricted by it. These are quite often correlated to some degree, such that “class status” may be useful, but this is not always the case. There are times when one’s status is elevated above one’s economic class, or when it falls below.
For instance, a greatly skilled artist from the lower class may find him or herself elevated in status when they find the favor of upper class spectators or otherwise come across wide support. On the other hand, if one goes against the norms or customs of the upper class, as by engaging in the wrong conspicuous consumption, or doing the “wrong” thing, they may fall in their status, without falling in their class.
Class relates to property, but status includes social esteem. Status is composed of the power and/or privilege of one’s class (relationship to property ownership), but also includes one’s level of prestige. Power is the ability to decide or make changes, to rule, while privilege is a granted opportunity (by power), and prestige is social esteem or influence. At times, elevated status, from high levels of prestige, allows one to transcend class boundaries.
In the United States there are three main classes, with some subdivision.