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Social Class In The United States

1911 words - 8 pages

There is much debate about the issue of social class in the United States. There are arguments about whether social classes are distinctly separate or fluid, dependent upon one’s community or society as a whole, and if they are subjective or objective (Hughes and Jenkins). However, despite the debate surrounding social classes, it is still important to try to define them and analyze their effects, as they are such an important part of our identity and our opportunities in society. Although our society has tried to appear as though we have no classes, and it is becoming harder to tell what class someone is in by material goods, classes do still exist today (Scott and Leonhardt). The trend has been to divide the U.S. into four major classes: the elite or upperclass, the middle class, the working class, and the lower class (Goldschmidt). However, some divide the middle and working class further. Classes are separated depending upon one’s income, wealth, power, prestige, opportunity, culture, occupation, and values. But one similarity that remains is that the majority of Americans still believe in equal opportunity and social mobility, although research shows that there are far less cases of it than most people would think (Scott and Leonhardt). Education has become crucial in the placement of one into social class, or the ability to move upward in class, even though the education one receives is largely based on the social class one is in to begin with (APA). Family structure is also affected by social class. With the increase in dual earner couples, defining social class among husbands and wives is more difficult than ever (Scott and Leonhardt). Parental values also differ among the classes, as parents often bring their occupational values and attitudes home with them (Hughes and Jenkins). In a society that puts such an emphasis on individualism and self-identification, social class and its affects are as powerful as ever.
Despite the debates about social class, the United States is usually described as having four major social classes, the elite or upperclass, the middle class, the working class, and the lower class (Goldscmidt). Classes are generally differentiated by income, education, and occupation although other factors do have an effect. The upperclass consists of about 1% of the population making 750,000 dollars or more a year as investors, top executives, or heirs to large fortunes (Hughes and Jenkins). There tends to be no question about who is in the upperclass as they are pretty clearly isolated in their power and wealth. The middle class makes up about 40% of the population making anywhere from 40,000 to 749,999 dollars a year (Hughes and Jenkins). The large disparity in income and wealth have led to a further division of this class into upper-middle class and middle class in some circles. The middle class usually work white collar jobs as professionals and managers, however some highly skilled blue collar...

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