Subjective social class, perceived quality of social relationships, and happiness: A case of mediation and moderation across gender

Jae Woo Kim, Chaeyoon Lim, Christina Falci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study investigates the link between social relationship and subjective well-being in the context of social stratification. The authors examine how perceived quality of social relationships and subjective social class are linked to self-reported happiness among men and women in South Korea. The study finds that one’s perception of relative social standing is positively associated with happiness independently of objective indicators of socioeconomic status, while social relationship quality strongly predicts the happiness among both men and women. However, the mediation pathway and moderating effects vary by gender. For men, the nexus between subjective social class and happiness is partially mediated by the quality of interpersonal relationships. No similar mediating effect is found among women. The study also finds gender difference in whether the link between social relationship quality and happiness varies by subjective social class. The happiness return to positive social relationships increases as men’s subjective social status becomes higher, which is consistent with the resource multiplication hypothesis. No similar moderation effect is found among women. Combined, these results reveal potentially different pathways to happiness across gender in Korea, where social status competition, collectivistic culture, and patriarchal gender relations are salient in daily life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-335
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Sociology
Volume35
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2020

Keywords

  • Gender
  • South Korea
  • happiness
  • perceived quality of social relationships
  • subjective social class

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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