Why is social class more important than race/ethnicity?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Race/ethnicity is mainly important as a subset of social class. The biological differences between the races are tiny and have very little effect on anyone's life, except in societies that are divided along racial lines. Race matters in some societies because it has been made to matter through a history...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Race/ethnicity is mainly important as a subset of social class. The biological differences between the races are tiny and have very little effect on anyone's life, except in societies that are divided along racial lines. Race matters in some societies because it has been made to matter through a history of racism. The races have been segregated like social classes. Once the elements of social control and prejudice cease to exist, race no longer matters on its own account.

It may be argued that if only racists will treat you differently because of your race, only snobs will treat you differently because of your social class. This may be true, but social class influences much more than the way that others treat you. To belong to a higher social class is to have much greater access to education, which is perhaps the widest-ranging single benefit of this status. People in higher social classes also enjoy greater access to healthcare and are likely to eat healthier food, with much lower levels of junk food. Social class usually aligns with economic class, meaning that those in the upper echelons have every advantage money can buy.

Even if high social class does not come with economic power, however, it comes with access to networks and inside knowledge which often confer similar advantages. George Orwell makes this point in The Road to Wigan Pier, adding that his own outlook on every aspect of life was quite different from that of the working-class people with whom he came into contact. It was this class-based outlook that allowed him act with much more confidence than working-class men of a similar age, even when they had more naturally assertive personalities.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team