Social Stratification in the United States: Lessons to reconcile the self and others in Economic Theory and Practice

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Drawing on the identity literature across social sciences, this paper investigates the nature of social stratification by identity groups in the US society as a potential cause and consequence of the Great Recession. The recent experience of the US society reflects the exacerbation of class, race and gender stratification since the 1980s. In effect, the consumerist society has reinforced the historical stratification of social identities with white men in high-paid, high-social status managerial and financial occupations at the top, and black women in low-paid, low-status service occupations at the bottom. Learning from this experience, this paper calls for a deconstruction of the neo-classical individual in economic theory and policy into a representation of the individual at the unique intersection of multiple social identities changing over time and space. As such, each individual is a unique combination of evolving identities in a stratified society where the other can become part of the self. In effect, the particularity of the capitalist society is to have reduced the individual to its top identity which has led to the rejection of human diversity within the self, and to the exacerbation of stratification within the society. Therefore, the paper concludes on the importance for economic actors, at the individual level, to reconcile the self and others to avoid that group behaviour overtakes resource allocation over time.
Original languageEnglish
JournalForum for Social Economics
Early online date28 Oct 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Oct 2017


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