Government uses the relationships between social classes (lower, middle, and upper) to justify variations in wealth and power among its citizens, thereby rationalizing that equality is an existing but relative concept. Growing up in the city, I normally witnessed stereotypical views about low income families. Oftentimes, I observed situations wherein people got discriminated against because they did not have nice suits or dresses, or they were not as eloquent as the people they were talking with.
My grandfather was fond of citing one southern saying that said: Money is the root of al evil and I often wonder just how true that line is. Sometimes, the idea of attaining social success puts too much pressure on people. They tend to forget their morals in their objective of achieving higher social status to conform with societys expectations and avoid its prejudices that those belonging to the lower class are troublesome, government assisted groups who are composed of the illiterate and the impoverished who lived on the margin of subsistence and possessed little or no security, skill, or stable employment (Hanratty & Meditz).
I disagree with Hanratty and Meditz statement: most lower class people do have work-related skills and are literate. At a local barber shop in a lower class neighborhood, there are always conversations about how the upper class is destroying the lower class, and why the people from the lower class cannot integrate into the mainstream society. Most of the people who participate in these conversations have fulltime work that pay very meager salaries.
They complain that the rich and powerful take advantage of them by making them work more with less and less pay. Having little formal education does not prevent them from being able to work effectively and communicate efficiently with other people related to their jobs, yet the said deficiency does hedge them out from being eligible for higher paying jobs despite their considerable experiences and abilities. In spite of being constantly labeled by other classes especially by the rich, they are determined to be a driving force in society.
They believe that social change can be brought about through a united front of the oppressed that could demand fairer treatment from those in higher social classes. The stereotyping of society easily flows into its basic unit, the family. A successful family implies that a husband and a wife have an income that allows them to live in a nice neighborhood. Society would classify that family as middle class. Samuelson writes that compounding the stress, the price of entry into the middle class is always rising.
The more we can have, the more we must have. Keeping up with the Joneses is the curse of our advances and ambitions (19). The problem with the middle class and trying to belong there is that the upper class considers itself middle class at times. It forces hard-working middle class people to work harder, often taking on two jobs to maintain their social status. Some upper class people continue to downplay their status as middle class. That would put pressure on truly middle class people to stay (or even move up) in the social status.
Expectation of what society requires of the middle class often puts pressure on the middle class to advance. Being born into wealth has been the only way to integrate in the upper class. Today the upper class is comprised of a diverse group of people unlike years before when the rich were perceived as people whose activities were just traveling and throwing socials. Societal perception of the upper class as seen on television is sometimes different from reality, as the rich have large amounts of money and can abuse their power.
The rich get themselves excused from a lot of mishaps. When rich and famous Paris Hilton got arrested, tried and sentenced to jail for forty days for drunk driving, it took her lawyers, money and influence only four days to break her out of prison and under house arrest in the luxury of her familys manor. Domhoff writes that: from infancy through young adulthood, members of the upper class receive a distinctive education. This education begins early in life in preschools that frequently are attached to a neighborhood church of high social status.
Schooling continues during the elementary years at a local private school called a day school. Higher education will be obtained at one of a small number of heavily endowed private universities. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford head the list, followed by smaller Ivy League schools in the East and a handful of other small private schools in other parts of the country (24). The upper class continues to work hard on staying on top: they put pressure on themselves and their children to stimulate them to stay in the same social class.
What we as society fail to realize is that success comes from within. In every culture there are social problems that result from being in a certain situation. Everybody has their own definition of what success is; definitions of success range from being rich, driving a fancy car, and living in a big house to simply being in good health and having a stress-free life. I have read a lot of articles through the years on what it takes to be successful and I still dont understand why society labels people and imposes its own uniform concept of social success. Rather than following commonly accepted social models, every person should think what success truly means.
References Hamratty, Dennis M. and Meditz, Sandra W. (1988). The lower classes and the Masses a country study Washington: GPO. Library of Congress. Samuelson, Robert J. (2006). Myths and the middle class. Retrieved July 31, 2007 from: www. washingtonpost. com Domhoff, William G. (1983). The American Upper Class: Who rules America now? Touchstone books.