Social class

Definition: Social class is usually measured using both objective and subjective measurements, as recommended by the American Psychological Association (American Psychological Association,Task Force on Socioeconomic Status, 2007). Unlike the conventional concept, which only considers one factor, either education or income (e.g., economic variables), an individual’s social class is considered to be a combination of their education, income, occupational prestige, subjective social status, and self-identified social class. Social class is partly a cultural variable, as it is a stable variable and likely to change slowly over the years. Social class can have important implications to academic outcomes. An individual may have a high socio-economic status yet identify as a working class individual. Working class students tend to have different life circumstances and often more restrictive commitments than middle-class students, which make their integration with other students more difficult (Rubin, 2021). The lack of time and money is obstructive to their social experience at university. Working class students are more likely to work to support themselves, resulting in less time for academic activities and for socializing with other students as well as less money to purchase items linked to social experiences (e.g. food).

Related term: Social integration

References: Evans and Rubin (2021), Rubin et al. (2019), Rubin (2021), & Saegert et al. (2007)

Drafted and Reviewed by: Mahmoud Elsherif, Leticia Micheli, Eliza Woodward, Julika Wolska, Gerald Vineyard, Yu-Fang Yang

Note that we are currently working on an automated mechanism to link references cited above with their full-length version that can be found at with all references used so far.