"The Stolen Party" and Other Stories

"The Stolen Party" and Other Stories Social Class and Inequality

"The Stolen Party" explores a young girl's burgeoning understanding of how her social class determines how people treat her.

While definitions of social class vary, social class usually refers to a person's socioeconomic status. Socioeconomic status is determined by how a person's income, cultural attitudes, political opinions, or education level compare to other people's. A class-based understanding of society tends to distinguish people as belonging to either the lower, middle, or upper class as they relate to each other within a social hierarchy.

In Marxian thought, a person's relationship to the system of production determines their class. The class of people who work but do not own the means of production are the proletariat, while the bourgeoisie, in a capitalist society, invest in the means of production and live off the surplus value of the proletariat's labor. In many cultures, social class also intersects with ethnicity.

While the middle and lower classes make up the majority of the world's population, political and economic influence remains with the upper or "ruling" class. The increasing economic inequality that results from class-based societies leads to conflicts whereby poorer people are exposed to greater health risks and a shorter life span, and are made to work long hours at dangerous and unreliable jobs while the upper classes increase their investment profits.