Definition of Wealth
(noun) The total amount of money and assets an individual or group owns.
- American English – /wElth/
- British English – /wElth/
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /wɛlθ/
- British English – /wɛlθ/
- Wealth is typically measured by net worth, which is the total value of money and owned assets owned (e.g., real estate, stocks) minus the total value of all debts (e.g., credit cards, loans). The key point is wealth is what you actually own, not what you have merely in your possession.
- “About 5000 years ago, people developed plow agriculture. By attaching oxen and other large animals to plows, farmers could increase the amount they produced. Again thanks to technological innovation, surpluses grew. With more wealth came still sharper social stratification. Agrarian societies developed religious beliefs justifying steeper inequality. People came to believe that kings and queens ruled by ‘divine right.’ They viewed large landowners as ‘lords.’ Moreover, if you were born a peasant, you and your children were likely to remain peasants. If you were born a lord, you and your children were likely to remain lords. In the vocabulary of modern sociology, we say that stratification in agrarian societies was based more on ascription than achievement” (Brym and Lie 2007:225).
- “Social stratification is universal but variable. Social stratification is found everywhere. Yet what is unequal and how unequal it is varies from one society to another. In some societies, inequality is mostly a matter of prestige; in others, wealth or power is the key element of difference. In addition, some societies contain more inequality than others” (Macionis 2012:225).
- Economic Sociology Resources – Books, Journals, and Helpful Links
- Word origin of “wealth” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
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ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “wealth.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved October 3, 2022 (https://sociologydictionary.org/wealth/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
wealth. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/wealth/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “wealth.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed October 3, 2022. https://sociologydictionary.org/wealth/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“wealth.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 3 Oct. 2022. <https://sociologydictionary.org/wealth/>.