Inequality and Class Consciousness

  • Héctor CarvachoEmail author
  • Belén Álvarez


Class consciousness occupied a central role in some classic theories in the social sciences, particularly in sociology. However, these concepts have been mostly overlooked by social psychology. The recent development of the psychology of inequality and social class opens new opportunities to revisit the concept of class consciousness. In this chapter, we provide a conceptual overview of class consciousness highlighting its contemporary relevance, and we discuss how inequality and class consciousness are connected. To explore this connection, we show some preliminary evidence at the social level, showing how class consciousness is lower among rich and egalitarian countries, and at the individual level, showing that for members of the working class, higher levels of class consciousness are connected to lower life satisfaction and worse health-related indicators. We propose a research agenda for social psychology that reconsiders the concept of class consciousness as it might be a fruitful avenue to further explain how certain psychological processes impact the formation and maintenance of social hierarchies.


Class consciousness Inequality Social class False consciousness Ideology 



This work has been supported by the Centre for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies (Grant CONICYT/FONDAP/15130009), the Interdisciplinary Center for Intercultural and Indigenous Studies (Grant CONICYT/FONDAP/15110006), and the grant CONICYT/FONDECYT Iniciación/11161074 allocated to Héctor Carvacho. We would like to thank Harry Lewis for his helpful comments on previous versions of this chapter.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology Department, Pontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile
  2. 2.Psychology DepartmentPontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile

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