Friday, October 26, 2007

Cultural resonance

You know you're not American when the first thing that pops into your head as a defense when people accuse you of being classist, even as a joke, is to confess your bourgeoise background (because you know you're not talking your way out of that one) and proclaim the insignificance of your suffering compared to the proletariat, and the finale is your sincere sympathy for the class struggle (and possible revolution). I clearly need an American version. Does anyone have any suggestions?

6 comments:

emma5280 said...

Okay. I just remembered that I had a blogger account and decided to use it today and I found this old blog and decided to answer your question from a sociologist point of view: The American People truly believe that "class" is a dirty word and that most people are in the middle class. According to my text from my social stratification class, the middle-class idea is a state of mind. It is how people see themselves, regardless of their actual economic position, and it is reflected in their attitudes and values. The level of class consciousness in the US is lower than in most other contemporary societies. National surveys have consistently shown that most Americans, when asked to classify themselves in the stratification system, reflexively answer middle-class. A quote that I found that describes the phenomenon: "The widely perceived class unconsciousness of the American people is a consequence of a class psychology characteristic not only of actual members of the middle class out of aspirants to that status, and overall, therefore, of the great majority of the nation." Basically, most Americans see a diamond shape with tiny upper and lower classes and a huge middle. Another way of oversimplifying class division is to entirely dismiss the class structure, to portray the US as a "classless" society. In reality, there are no "natural" divisions of the class hierarchy in terms of income and wealth, occupational status, and education. The division is arbitrary depending on the person doing the study. A more reliable model for describing the class system in the USA is a six-part model: upper, upper-middle, lower-middle, working, working poor, and underclass. The major division seems to come from the major source of income(%of population): >1%Upper:assets, 18-20%upper-middle:salaries, 25-30%Lower-middle:salaries and wages, working:wages,
12-15%working poor: wages,
8-10%underclass: public assistance, underground economy. I hope this helps. If not, I can go into more detail.

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