Today in the United States, we read in the newspapers constantly about the state of "classes" in our country. For instance, it is often said at tax time that the Federal budget is balanced on the backs of the "middle class." To people in the "lower class," the promise is held that in a capitalist society, by working hard you can lift yourself out of the lower income bracket to join the "middle class." Entrepreneurs who can "find a need and fill it" can make it into the "upper class." The point is that this kind of thinking, a product of "social stratification theory," is ingrained upon our minds. As a society, we accept it as a fact that we live in a multi-tiered "class" system, and that this is the way it should be because it is
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In "Marxist Class Analysis Versus Stratification Analysis as General Approaches to Social Inequality," James Stolzman and Herbert Gamberg argue that social stratification theorists are not even really interested in explaining class, its origins and potential changes, and are not interested in assigning any historical context. It is helpful and important to know and understand stratification models in our society, but to be comprehensive we should also ask how social stratification became the way it is, and try to predict how it is going to change in the future. In Social Stratification and Inequality: Class Conflict in the United States, Harold R. Kerbo explains social stratification theorists' view that "society is held together by the general consensus over the major values and norms in the society." He goes on to say that they view the "task of social science as that of making a value-free analysis of society in order to uncover basic social laws, rather than attempting to promote social change." We should be interested in social change, assuming we can better our society.
Marxian class theory does attempt to explain the existence of classes through historical perspective, and to make predictions for the future of capitalist society. Stolzman and Gamberg state that "Marxist class analysis provides a radical or critical