As the economic gap between rich and poor has grown over the past thirty years, a new system of social class differences may be asserting itself in the United States. Several indicators show that the wealthy enjoy better healthcare, better schools, and more political influence than the poorest segment of the population. But there may also be more subtle ways in which social class matters. With support from the Foundation, Annette Lareau, Dalton Conley, Michael Hout, and David Grusky will convene a conference to investigate the hidden workings of social class in America.
Lareau and her colleagues will use a common definition of social class based upon levels of educational attainment, income, wealth, and occupational prestige. Each paper presented at the conference will discuss class in a particular context and examine whether class is a useful explanatory device in that domain. One conference participant will examine the extent to which class explains the different types of gender discrimination suffered by women of varying levels of income and education. Another will explore the connection between socioeconomic status and mortality, looking specifically at less-preventable diseases, which the poor and rich alike have trouble avoiding.
UPDATE: The papers were compiled and published by the Foundation in an edited volume, Social Class: How Does It Work?