The lower classes of society are the people who don’t have much money. They have low living standards, are denied the opportunity to pursue higher education, and are often excluded from the decision-making process. These people have suffered a great deal from the shift from manufacturing to service industries, which has resulted in reduced employment opportunities for manual workers. This has left a core of chronically unemployed people living in declining urban areas. Some sociologists consider this core the underclass.
Why are social classes important?
Social classes are based on economic, cultural, and social factors. In the United States, the upper classes tend to be healthier and live longer than the lower classes. This is partially because of the strong support and institutions that the upper classes enjoy. But despite these benefits, these differences can be a cause of concern for many people.
In 19th-century Europe, the term “class” first came into use. It replaced terms such as rank and order, which reflected changes in western European societies after the late eighteenth century revolutions. The rise of capital and the growth of the industrial sector shifted the importance of feudal distinctions of rank and class. This resulted in the development of new socioeconomic classes based on economic factors and wages.
In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen satirizes the class system, especially the oppression of the lower and middle classes. However, she also highlights the benefits of social structure and the power of societal division.