Mental Disorder: Social Class
However, before examining the relationship between social class and mental disorder, it is useful to review how sociologists determine a person’s class position. A social class is a category or group of people who have approximately the same amount of wealth, status, and power in a society. The various classes are ranked in a hierarchical pattern from top to bottom on the basis of how much or how little wealth, status, and power they have relative to each other and thereby constitute a layered system of socially stratified human beings. The pattern is one of inequality in which classes at the top have the best living conditions and greater access to quality goods and services, while those at the very bottom have none of these things. The relevance of social inequality in the daily lives of most individuals is that it determines their personal opportunities and life experiences in very powerful ways. To be poor by definition means having less of the good things in life and more of the bad things, including more mental disorder.