Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Social Classes in America

Many people believe that the poor are where they are in life because of laziness or lack of skill, and that if they tried hard enough they could escape their situation. However, many sociologists disagree with such an assessment.
The poor are, according to the first article, a societal necessity. As morbid as it may sound, the poor benefit the American society as a whole and are necessary for maintaining social structure. For example, it is necessary that someone (the lower class) does the unskilled "dirty work" that others do not desire to do. Additionally the poor provide jobs for those looking to assist the poor, as well as a convenient societal scapegoat. Such conditions may beg the question "why don't the poor just leave and find a new job?". The answer is a complex one. Although there is nothing directly prohibiting the poor from moving up in society, many situational factors nearly doom the poor to stay poor. For example, the people in Appalachia are not forced to live there, yet they stay, because they have poor education, addiction problems, familial obligations and a lack of means to move away and start over.
The social affects that force the poor to stay poor are reminiscent in all social classes, and contribute to there being little movement between social classes. According to the article, as youths grow their mindset about how to live is largely shaped by their parent's social class (and therefore their social mindset) as well as the quality of education they  receive.
The third article focuses on the upper class. It somewhat puts to rest the idea that all of the people in the upper class fairly earned they position. The article talked about how people in the upper class are born into an advantage. Not only do they grow up around wealth, but they receive superior education and opportunities.
Obviously, everything I have stated above is a generalization and not necessarily true for each individual case.
I myself am in the upper portion of the middle class, and find the article's assessment to be very true. I have benefited from living in a comfortable area where I have received a quality education and every opportunity to prepare to go to a good college. I am not guaranteed any social class in adult life, but I have a head start.

Here is a funny cartoon that displays America's uneven wealth distribution.