Refers to the ideological belief that people deserve the privilege or oppression of their class based on their “merit”, “social status”, level of education, job, work ethic, etc… Although many people suffer under capitalism, classism is relative, eg. student “poverty”. Classism also refers to the social dynamic of privilege, or elitism. Access to knowledge or to education, the privilege to choose when to be an “activist”, when to be risk taking (eg. risk arrest), and the use of exclusive language (i.e. “activist” language, acronyms, “academic” language) are examples of elitism embedded in class privilege.

Comments on Definition from COR Participants:

[chris d: The point about classism being relative is really important, but I think it needs more clarification. There is a lot of posturing among downwardly-mobile white, middle-class activists that amounts to concealing class origins and effectively denying privilege. As I understand it, your example about student “poverty” hints at some of this kind of relativism. My view is tainted, I think, by living in the US, where “class” tends to be a dirty word, even among “radical” activists.]