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Sociological concepts and theories to analyse people’s relative standings and class positions in contemporary societies

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Class Analysis in Australia: Evidence from Two Life Stories

Class Analysis in Australia: Evidence from Two Life Stories

In every society whether complex, tribal, or feudal, there is always a categorization of individuals by their social strata (Lenski, 2013). In simple terms we can define social stratification as the classification of individuals into social economic strata according to their occupation, wealth, social status, power, and income. Therefore stratification classifies an individual into his or her relative social position in any social unit. Basically there are three social classes in the western societies which are upper class, middle class, and the lower class (Macionis, 2011). In this essay I shall discuss two individuals Linda and Jeff who are both citizens of Australia. The essay will discuss Linda and Jeff’s relatives standing and their class positions in their respective societies. The essay will discuss their lifestyles and then using the sociological perspective classify them into their respective social strata. I will also conduct a comparison of the class position of Linda and Jeff.

Research Method

In the essay the main aim is to identify from a sociological perspective the social class of Linda and Jeff. Therefore, the main research question is, which social strata do Linda and Jeff belong to? Answering this question will help us identify their social class. The research question is also supported by other minor questions that builds up this essay. The questions include; what is the lifestyle of Linda and Jeff? How much do they earn from their occupations or businesses? What are the factors that determine class identification in the contemporary society? Which are the social stratification theories?

Method of Collecting Information

The information collected is secondary information, thus it is obtained from reading magazines, personal biographies, newspapers and other secondary materials. After reading from the magazines I was able to obtain information about Linda and Jeff to answer the research questions that I had formulated. From the information collected I was able to determine their social strata supported by the sociological theories of social stratification.

Life Stories

Jeff is an Australian actor born on 11th august 1983 and has featured in many Australian TV series such as home and away, the avengers, Thor: The dark World, the cabin in the Woods etc. Jeff was born in Melbourne, his father was a teacher of English and his mother a social services counsellor (Choi and Berger, 2010). He was a second born among three boys where his two other brothers are actors. He was raised in Melbourne and Outback where most of his childhood was spent in Melbourne. Jeff started his acting career in the year 2002 where he featured in two episodes of a fantasy television series known as Guinevere Jones.

Jeff greatest success was Thor a superhero role in the marvel studios. He also featured in the avengers as one of the six superheroes who had been sent to the earth to defend from Loki his adopted brother. He has starred in the The Cabin in the Woods which was a horror movie. Jeff is set to reprise his role as Thor in a television series known as Thor: Ragnarok which set to be released in 2017.

Jeff is married and has three kids; one daughter and twin sons and now lives in Byron Bay; he can secure film work from Australia thus there is no need of him being living in America. Jeff has been nominated and has won various awards such as teen choice awards, MTV awards, people’s choice award etc. Jeff drives an SUV car worth US$ 45,000 an loves going out for holidays with his family. His average annual earnings is US$ 27 million

Linda is an actress, a film producer and an Australian Citizen born on 20th June 1967. Her Australian parents gave birth to her in Honolulu, Hawaii when on a temporal stay in the United States on educational reasons. Her father was a clinical psychologist, biochemist, and a writer while her mother was an editor (Choi and Berger, 2010). Linda and her family left for Sydney Australia when Linda was four years. Linda started acting at the age of 16 where she made a film entrance in the Australian holiday season favorite Bush Christmas. In the late 1983 she earned a supporting role in the television series the Five Mile Creek.

The year 1995 was Linda’s greatest years of success where she appeared an action film known as the damsel in distress assuming the role of Dr. Chase Meridian. She also appeared in the Batman forever, to die For, The portrait of a Lady, the Blue Room. Linda has been married twice and has adopted son, had a son with her first husband, and two other daughters with her second husband. In the 2002 Linda featured in the Australian rich list which is an annual publication in the magazine business review weekly (Choi and Berger, 2010). Her valued net wealth was A$ 122 million and in 2011 her print net wealth was A$304 million. Linda is philanthropic and has given aid to the less fortunate thus earning recognitions from various NGOs.

Class Analysis

According to Karl Marx, class is usually determined by ones association to the means of production (McLeod, 2013). In the capitalist society there two classes of people, proletariat; the working individuals but they do not own the means of production, and the bourgeoisie, individuals who invest and live on the surplus generated by the proletariats. According to Max weber, the economic positions determines the class of an individual. However in the contemporary society, there are three classes which include the upper class, middle class, and lower class (Macionis, 2011).

Although Jeff was born by lower class parents, his acting career has boosted him into the middle class level. His acting career made him famous and earned him a lot of wealth which totals to US$ 27 million. Jeff is just an actor who does not own any production firm or any other means of production, thus he can be classified as a proletariat. Supporting the Marxist theory, proletariats do not own any means of production and in most cases they are the employees. In the present society, proletariats can be classified into the middle class level (Macionis, 2011). Therefore, Jeff is a proletariats who can be classified as a middle class individual in the contemporary society.

Markedly, Linda was born in a powerful family where her mother used to fight for the rights of the less privileged and her father was a clinical researcher. Her background family was wealthy. Linda has grown to be an actor as well as a film producer. In the Marxist theory the bourgeoisie are those individuals that control the means of production and are considered to be superior in the society (Lenski, 2013). They reap the benefits from the employees and as result they have more wealth. Linda is a producer who owns means of production, making her wealthy. She is also a philanthropy which gives her power in the society. Thus in the present society she can be classified as an upper class individual.

The main difference in the class positions of Linda and Jeff is that Linda owns a means of production which makes her wealthier than Jeff. Linda is also a philanthropic, she have been involved in many charitable organizations which makes her famous than Jeff. The most important factors in identifying class positions in Australia is the wealth of the individual and income. Political power is also used to determine the social class at rare times (McLeod, 2013).

In conclusion, every society classifies individuals into social strata which is done either according to a person’s occupations, social status, income, power, or wealth. In the present society, there are three social classes which are the upper, middle, and lower classes. As noted Jeff is a middle class actor with a net worth of US $ 27 million. He is not an influential person in the society and does not control any means of production. On the other hand, Linda is an upper class actor and producer. She is an influential person in the society due to her philanthropic actions. She also controls a means of production by producing films.


Choi, C.J., Berger, R., 2010. Ethics of celebrities and their increasing influence in 21st century society. J. Bus. Ethics 91, 313–318.

Lenski, G.E., 2013. Power and privilege: A theory of social stratification. UNC Press Books.

Macionis, J.J., 2011. Society: the basics. Pearson.

McLeod, J.D., 2013. Social stratification and inequality, in: Handbook of the Sociology of Mental Health. Springer, pp. 229–253.