Class society or class-based society is an organizing principle society in which ownership of property, means of production, and wealth is the determining factor of the distribution of power, in which those with more property and wealth are stratified higher in the society and those without access to the means of production and without wealth are stratified lower in the society. In a class society, at least implicitly, people are divided into distinct social strata, commonly referred to as social classes or castes. The nature of class society is a matter of sociological research. Class societies exist all over the globe in both industrialized and developing nations. Class stratification is theorized to come directly from capitalism. In terms of public opinion, nine out of ten people in a Swedish survey considered it correct that they are living in a class society.
In Weberian sociology, the relationship a person holds to the purchaser of their labour is what primarily establishes the person's position in class society.
In Marxist sociology, the relationship of the actor to the means of production roughly establishes the position of the social actor in relation to class society. The class society itself is understood as the aggregated phenomenon to the "interlinked movement", which generates the quasi-objective concept of capital.
For Bourdieu, the place in the social strata for any person is vaguer than the equivalent in Weberian sociology. Bourdieu introduced an array of concepts of what he refers to as types of capital. These types were economic capital, so how much universal equivalent (commonly referred to as fiat money) to other commodities, which a social actor holds, as well as tangible private property. This type of capital is separated from the other types of culturally constituted types of capital, which Bourdieu introduces, which are: personal cultural capital (formal education, knowledge); objective cultural capital (books, art); and institutionalized cultural capital (honours and titles).
One may use comparative methods to study class societies, using, for example, comparison of Gini coefficients, de facto educational opportunities, unemployment, and culture.
Societies with large class differences have a greater proportion of people who suffer from mental health issues such as anxiety and depression symptoms. A series of scientific studies have demonstrated this relationship. Statistics support this assertion and results are found in life expectancy and overall health; for example, in the case of high differences in life expectancy between two Stockholm suburbs. The differences between life expectancy of the poor and less-well-educated inhabitants who live in proximity to the station Vårby gård, and the highly educated and more affluent inhabitants living near Danderyd differ by 18 years.
Similar data about New York is also available for life expectancy, average income per capita, income distribution, median income mobility for people who grew up poor, share with a bachelor's degree or higher. 
In class societies, the lower classes systematically receive lower-quality education and care. There are more explicit effects where those within the higher class actively demonize parts of the lower-class population.
In class societies, class conflict has tended to recur or is ongoing, depending on the sociological and anthropolitical perspective.
Class societies have not always existed; there have been widely different types of class communities. For example, societies based on age rather than capital. During colonialism, social relations were dismantled by force, which gave rise to societies based on the social categories of waged labor, private property, and capital.