From Academic Kids

Classism (a term formed by analogy with racism) is any form of prejudice or oppression against people who are in, or who are perceived as being like those who are in, a lower social class (especially in the form of lower socioeconomic status) within a class society.

Like racism, classism can be divided into (at least) individual classism and structural classism. Individual classism is a matter of the prejudices held and discrimination practiced by individual people (such as making jokes or stereotypes at the expense of the poor, or treating workers in menial jobs as stupid or unworthy of respect). Structural or institutional classism is a passive form of classism that occurs when institutions or common practices are structured in such a ways as to effectively exclude or marginalize people from lower classes, which can be due, in part, to widespread individual classism within the organization or the society, but does not need to be—for example, many people understand the heavy influence of campaign contributions in American politics as a form of structural classism—since they argue that it effectively excludes working class people from political influence over their elected representatives—but this need not involve any claim that the campaign finance system was intentionally designed with the aim of sticking it to the poor.

Classism is also similar to racism in that it is often a matter of considerable controversy. Charges that a person, act, or institution is classist are often matters of intense disagreement. There is often intense disagreement between the parties over background facts, such as whether modern industrialized societies are economically stratified into discernible classes at all (and if so, how much); and there is also often also disagreement over matters of understanding, such as whether negative treatment is due to prejudice against members of lower classes, or whether it is a rational reaction to personal traits of the person being so treated. People who generally tend to find charges of classism unfounded or unreasonably harsh often diagnose the charges as expressions of class envy. Those who argue classism is especially pervasive or fundamental to the society that they live in often identify classism as the expression of systematic economic exploitation, and may connect it with an explicit notion of class warfare—but it's important to note that any particular accusation of classism does not, as such, presuppose any such claim (just as people may agree on examples of overt white supremacism, while disagreeing intensely over how widespread or deep-seated racist attitudes are in their society).

See also: White trash, chav Template:Philo-stub


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