Socioeconomic status and the structure of the self-concept

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

British Journal of Social Psychology

Authors

Matthew J. Easterbrook, Toon Kuppens and Antony S. R. Manstead

Publication date

Summary

Individuals have a myriad of potential identities that they can use to define who they are, yet little research has investigated which types of identities people tend to prioritize within their self‐concepts, and how this may vary across individuals. We analyse data from two large UK social surveys (Ns = 16,966 and 44,903) that assessed the importance respondents attached to various identities within their self‐concepts, and find that social class plays a crucial role. Our results show that respondents attached high importance to identities that are indicative of their social class (income, education, and professional), and at least as much importance as they gave to identities more commonly studied by psychologists (such as ethnicity, nationality, or gender). Furthermore, respondents’ objective social class was one of the strongest predictors of the importance they attached to different types of identities: Higher class respondents placed greater importance on identities that are indicative of their social class, but less importance on identities based on basic demographics, chosen communities, or their sociocultural orientation. Our results suggest that social class plays an important role in structuring the self‐concept, and that researchers should pay more attention to the importance of social class to self and identity processes.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1111/bjso.12334

ISSN

16

Subjects

Psychology, Demography, Social Stratification and Social Psychology

Links

Notes

Online Early