Class and Classism

What is the difference between the Sources of Class and the Influences on Class? How would you define the different types of Classism?

There are usually four components of class:

  1. Income
  2. Educational Attainment
  3. Occupational Prestige
  4. Wealth

Can you guess what are the most and least prestigious professions are in the United States today? Click here for an editable Google doc. What would be your dream job? Click here:

Transition: Policing the Poor

This video explanation is intended to link our unit on race/mass incarceration to our unit on social class. Look at the questions listed below before watching the video in order to focus your written responses afterward.

Mark Jay, a sociologist at UC Santa Barbara examines how mass incarceration and police violence overwhelmingly target poor people, regardless of race. Given the direct correlation between incarcerated individuals and those most affected by poverty and inequality, he suggests that providing resources, especially for those suffering from mental health issues, would substantially reduce those numbers.

  1. How does the design of outdoor benches discriminate against poor/destitute people?
  2. As a consequence of mass incarceration, how many Americans are "currently branded with a criminal record"? Did you find this statistic shocking? Why or why not?
  3. According to President Ronald Reagan, what causes crime? What role does society play? Do you agree? Why or why not?
  4. What are the two leading causes of crime, according to the World Bank?
  5. President Lyndon Johnson waged an unsuccessful "War on Poverty", but President Richard Nixon (his successor) changed that to a "War on Crime", or to a "law and order" philosophy. Why, according to Jay?
  6. What does Mark Jay say is the "American Dream Mythology" regarding if someone is poor or criminal?
  7. How much does the US military spend compared to other countries? How is this an example of an "opportunity cost"?
  8. A decade ago, 70% of incarcerated individuals came from families living under half of the federal poverty line ($13,000 for a family of four). How is this an example of "punishing the poor"?
  9. What is "defunding the police"? How does University of Illinois - Chicago professor Cedric Johnson reframe the issue? Do you agree with him? Why or why not?
  10. Mark Jay argues that in American society, “[w]e don’t really try to end poverty, we just come up with newer and crueler ways of punishing the poor.” Agree or disagree? Explain, using evidence.


The summer of 2020 is now being referred to as "a moment of racial reckoning". What have we as a country learned from the murder of George Floyd? Where did the #blacklivesmatter movement originate? An answer might be found in the tragic story of Michael Brown of Ferguson, MO. We will watch the following film in conjunction with a lesson on policing and media literacy:

The Prison-Industrial Complex

Our goal: quote and cite a reputable source (not opinion-based) that either supports or refutes the slides in this artistic response to mass incarceration. Please be prepared to explain the slide IYOW (in your own words). ENTER YOUR RESPONSE HERE.

The slides:

The assessment criteria:

The music video:

Could Finland's system provide a different model? Click below: