Toward a Psychological Study of Class Consciousness: Development and Validation of a Social Psychological Model


  • Lucas A. Keefer
  • Chris Goode
  • Laura Van Berkel


While social class has recently become a prominent topic in social psychological research, much of this effort has focused on the psychological consequences of objective and subjective indices of class (e.g., income, perceived status). This approach sheds light on the consequences of social class itself, but overlooks a construct of central importance in earlier theorizing on class: class consciousness, or the extent to which individuals acknowledge and situate themselves within class relations. The current paper offers a psychological model of class consciousness comprised of five elements: awareness of social class, perceptions of class conflict, beliefs about the permeability of class groups, identification with a class group, and personal experience of being treated as a member of one’s class. We offer a measure assessing those central dimensions and assess differences in these dimensions by age, gender, indices of social class, political ideology, and among different class groups. Finally, we offer suggestions for how an awareness of class consciousness may enrich social psychology and ultimately foster political change.