7 table 27 determinants of social classes economic

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Unformatted text preview: ve social estimation of honour 54 and respect given to each class. Although it is generally believed that most industrialised nations do not conform to strict and tightly defined social classes [Engel et al., 1995:682; Hawkins et al., 2001:120; Arens, 1999:140; and Burgess, 1998:17], social classes do, however, have certain determinant variables as shown in table 2.7. Table 2.7 Determinants of social classes. Economic Variables Interaction Variables Political Variables o Occupation o Personal prestige o Power o Income o Association o Class consciousness o W ealth o Soation o Mobility and succession Source: Engel J.F., Blackwell, R.D., Miniard, P.W., 1995, Consumer behavior, 8th edition, U.S.A.: Dryden Press, p. 682. Occupation is often seen as the best single indicator of social class in the field of consumer behaviour. One of its benefits is in examining different consumption patterns and behaviours. For example, does a good occupation provide a better salary, which in turn allows more consumption? A further step in this direction takes a look at a person’s occupational position compared to others in the same field. Income and wealth are related to possessions. Possessions are symbols of class membership – not only the number or quality of possessions, but also the nature of the choices made [Engel et al., 1995:683 and Brassington & Pettitt, 2001:110]. An example is that of a child who is able to buy more sweets than another due to having more pocket money because of wealthy parents. In addition, the wealthier child can also buy branded sweets (such as ‘Manhattan’s) as opposed to generic ones. Products and brands often seek to be positioned as symbols of status [Kotler, 2000:162]. This is evident in a case where younger consumers might regard a friend to be wealthy if they had a ‘Sony Playstation’ or satellite television. Consumers are generally more at ease when surrounded by people of similar values and behaviour [Deshpande, 2001:100]. This focuses attention on the variables (as shown in table 2.8) that epitomise the essence of social classes, namely prestige, association and soation. Prestige describes the manner in which one person respects another whilst association deals with the way that people live their everyday lives in similar ways. Soation refers to how a person learns the skills, attitudes and customs to participate 55 in the life of the community. Social class behaviour and values are clearly differentiated in children by the time they have reached adolescence. The numerous examples given in the section dealing with the way children learn have provided suitable illustrations of soation [LaBarbera & Gurhan, 1997:84; Zeithaml & Bitner, 1996:68; and Engel et al., 1995:684]. Dealing with the political variables in table 2.8, class consciousness refers to the degree to which people in a social class are aware of themselves as a distinctive group with shared interests. For example, children know which groups at school are classified...
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