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class system

Definition of Class System

(noun) A stratified system based on socioeconomic status in which individuals have the potential (real or imagined) for mobility.

Example of Class System

  • United States: working class, middle class, upper class
    • However, this is a vast oversimplification

Class System Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: class sys·tem

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /klAs sIs-tuhm/
  • British English – /klAHs sIs-tim/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /klæs ˈsɪstəm/
  • British English – /klɑːs ˈsɪstɪm/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: class systems
  • The different levels (strata) in a class system are referred to as a class.
  • There is an opportunity for advancement in a class system, but not a caste system. However, the amount of mobility in a class-based system is an oft debated and controversial topic.
  • A type of stratification and system.
  • Also called class society.

Related Quotation

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Additional Information

Related Terms


Ferrante, Joan. 2011b. Sociology: A Global Perspective. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Works Consulted

Brinkerhoff, David, Lynn White, Suzanne Ortega, and Rose Weitz. 2011. Essentials of Sociology. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Ferrante, Joan. 2011a. Seeing Sociology: An Introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Griffiths, Heather, Nathan Keirns, Eric Strayer, Susan Cody-Rydzewski, Gail Scaramuzzo, Tommy Sadler, Sally Vyain, Jeff Bry, Faye Jones. 2016. Introduction to Sociology 2e. Houston, TX: OpenStax.

Kendall, Diana. 2011. Sociology in Our Times. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Kimmel, Michael S., and Amy Aronson. 2012. Sociology Now. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Macionis, John. 2012. Sociology. 14th ed. Boston: Pearson.

Marsh, Ian, and Mike Keating, eds. 2006. Sociology: Making Sense of Society. 3rd ed. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/).

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Schaefer, Richard. 2013. Sociology: A Brief Introduction. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Stolley, Kathy S. 2005. The Basics of Sociology. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Thompson, William E., and Joseph V. Hickey. 2012. Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology. 7th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Tischler, Henry L. 2011. Introduction to Sociology. 10th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

Cite the Definition of Class System

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “class system.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved February 27, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/class-system/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

class system. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/class-system/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “class system.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed February 27, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/class-system/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“class system.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/class-system/>.