The Upper Class

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The contemporary world is a 'global system'. The global system has many traditional practices but Sklair focuses on three main spheres:

  • The economic
  • The political
  • The cultural idealogy

Individual states try hard to attract inward investment from large corporations. He sees the capitalist economy as the foundation of the global system.

Big companies such as Coca-Cola encourages people to buy their products through idealogy, this class seek power and control and making the state wider affects the whole system in order to further their interests.

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Powerful and wealthy minorities continue to be dominant in the UK, however, this composition has changed:

  • Entrepreneurs, successful entertainers and sports people on the rise
  • Traditional establishment has declined

Lansley supports Scott, suggesting that wealthy business elite still rule in the UK, calling them the 'Superclass'.

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Saunders does not deny that there is a small group of people in society who have more wealth and power than others and an 'interlocking network' at the top of the British industry.

He suggests the capitalist class contain families who own majority of share holdings in large companies. They have become the economic elite. He argues that less than 25% of the top 50 British companies are run by managers who own 5% more of company shares. Saunders argues that managers and directors lack wealth to be capitalist as they have no control over government, media and education.

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Parkin refers to the term 'social closure'. This involves the strategies used in order to create maintain group privileges. The 'exclusion' strategy (placing restrictions in the path of others) is used by groups anxious to protect their existing priviledges. Parkin suggests these groups may request that 'new recruits' possess the right education 'credentials' or an acceptable culture. 

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Bourdieu focuses on the term 'cultural capital' and argues that children born into this class adapt to distinct ways of speaking, mannerisms,attitudes and values that distinguishes them from other groups. They learn they have privileges of security and power over the lives of others which leads them to have self confidence and a sense of social superiority.

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Scott suggest that have been changes in higher classes of British society but does not believe it has disappeared. He discusses that the ruling class exists when there is political domination and political rule by the capitalist class.

He argues with Marxism that Britain is a ruling class but believes it is part of an international grouping and an 'upper circle of status superiors'.Grouping importance of multi national businesses means there are greater links between business classes of different societies. Scott also developed the concept of Bourdieu's 'cultural capital' into 'social capital' in order to explain these networks among the ruling class.

Power Bloc: Group of people who can monopolize political power overa country for some time.

Power Elite: Those from the power block who occupy key positions in the state.

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Class Division: The private ownership of capital provided they key to explaining the division. The major division was still between the capital and labour.

Distribution of Wealth: 5% of the population are amongst those of the richest. The expansion of home ownership has spread wealth a little more widely, but the ownership of capital in private property has been concentrated.

Ruling Class Power: The maintenance of inequalities of wealth was due to the power of the ruling class. Governments have favoured the interests of the capital assuming that the well being of the nation is largerly dependent upon private property.

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