Why social class definition is meaningless
Why social classification is meaningless, according to the Indian Institute of Social Science (IISc).
The social class categorisation system, introduced by the IITs Social Sciences department in 1980, is used to assess the socioeconomic standing of a student, and the income and expenditure of a household, for the purposes of calculating a student’s entitlement to a university degree.
The concept has been widely adopted in other countries such as Australia, and is used in the US as well.
But, unlike in India, the system in the IISc is not based on the income of the student or his/her parents.
According to a report by the International Institute of Sociology, social class definitions in the United States are based on a person’s social class and is not inclusive of the socio-economic status of the individual or the family.
“This system is based on social class classification that has no scientific basis, and relies on subjective assessments of the social classes,” IISs professor K.R. Venkatachalam told the Times of India.
The IIS report said the social class concept in the U.S. was based on an individual’s family income, education level, occupation, gender, occupation-related traits and occupation-dependent traits, but not on his or her social class.
“The IIT report has highlighted that the social category concept is not scientifically sound,” Venkatakumar said.
“It is based mainly on the subjective assessment of a person in a society where social classes are very fluid.”
“In the U, if you are poor, you are not a poor person.
If you are a middle-class person, you might be rich,” he added.
“In the United Kingdom, if a person is poor, he or she is not a ‘poor person’.
If a person earns more than a certain income, they are not poor.”
The report also pointed out that social class categories are not based only on the socio-“economic status” of the person but also on his/ her social position within the society.
The report said that social classes can also include other variables like caste, religion, education, economic background, occupation and so on.
The report further said that socio-political class (SPSC) is also an arbitrary concept that does not account for the socio economic position of a social class person.
“If the soci-economic class is not measured, it is impossible to say that a person has attained his/ Her socio- economic position,” the report said.”SPSCs are also based on socio- political class, which does not take into account the socioeconomic status and position of the class in society.
In the United Nations, it has been recognized that there is a ‘SPS category’ for the social groups which fall under socio- economical class.”
The Indian government has also been trying to make social class-based categorisation more transparent and effective.
In 2014, it made the education category more inclusive by making it optional for students to disclose their social class status.
In 2019, it amended the education classification for public sector colleges, making it mandatory for students of certain social classes to disclose the classification.