Do you think America is mostly a meritocracy

The reading and videos this week indicate how complicated “class” is in America. That unequal classes exist in the United States is undeniable. But there is much to debate after that fact. How many classes are there? Why do they exist? Are they best understood through structural functionalism, social conflict, or symbolic interactionism? What is the role of ideology in maintaining America’s social classes?

People often refer to class distinctions based solely on income. But for our course, we are interested in class as socioeconomic status. As the second video makes clear, various components are involved in socioeconomic status, including: income, wealth (net worth), political power, occupational prestige, and educational attainment. Additionally, Race and gender play major parts in the complicated dynamic of socioeconomic status. While we will focus on race and gender separately over the next two weeks, it is important to understand that all three intersect in American life.

Using what you’ve learned about the five components involved in socioeconomic status, as well as ideology, structural functionalism, social conflict, and symbolic interactionism, write a 400-600 word essay on the following question. Be sure to use your own words even if you are referring to the words or ideas of someone in the materials. There is no need to footnote, simply giving the page number or video time mark within parentheses is fine.


Do you think America is mostly a meritocracy? Use real world examples either from history or your own experiences as proof of your answer. Be sure to refer to some of ideas and/or categories in the materials to explain your answer.

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