Social Class

The United States social class system is broken down into five classes; the upper class, lower class, middle class, working class and the poor. Social inequality is ever present with the vast differences between these classes.

There are endless examples of the differences between upper class and the other lower classes. Members of the upper class are able to live extravagantly, having the best of everything. They are able to take vacations, buy the most expensive houses, cars, clothes, etc.   They can afford medical care and prescriptions. Members of the lower classes simply do not have these same luxuries.  The members of the poor class are often faced with having to choose between prescriptions or food. They often don’t have cars or adequate housing. Vacations and higher education are dreams, not realities. Members of the poor are happy to have clothes that are often used. Members of the working class often live paycheck to paycheck which can result in overdue bills and late fees. They have little to no savings. Members of the upper middle class are comfortable. They are not rich, but they can live comfortably and easily afford the costs of living as well as living within their means.

According to the US Census Bureau, American Community Survey, in 2011, 32.1 percent of Americans were members of the working class (PRB.Org).

According to the US Census Bureau, American Community Survey, in 2011, 32.1 percent of Americans were members of the working class (PRB.Org).

The size of this class continues to grow. My family is a working class family. I can tell you from my own personal experiences that the everyday struggle is real. My husband and I both work, yet are struggling to make ends meet. The only extra spending we have is for our college classes. Housing, food for our family of four, utilities, insurance and gas literally takes everything we have. We are not able to save for higher education for our children. If something unexpected happens, such as having to have car repairs or having to replace our hot water heater, it sets us back for weeks, sometimes months. Extracurricular activities for our kids are considered a luxury.

Discrimination has always been present in our country. It is most often thought of as minorities being denied social participation or human rights. On employment applications, we see statements telling us they will not discriminate against one’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin. I think it can be argued that social class can be added to those statements. I believe members of all classes are stereotyped. For example, members of the poor class are assumed to be uneducated, lazy and sometimes unworthy. Members of the upper class are assumed to be educated, motivated and important.

I thought this was an accurate depiction of our social classes here in the United States.

I thought this was an accurate depiction of our social classes here in the United States.

Look at the differences here. Clearly the bottom of the picture is our two lower classes. Notice the difference in clothing, lighting and cleanliness. It’s all bare bones if you will. Then you have the upper middle class dressed nice and neat with smiles on their faces. The one guy has a laptop and a cool lamp. Then the upper level is posh. All decked out in gold, huge smiles on their faces, looking like ‘fat cats’. The folks climbing the ladder cannot be ignored either. They are both trying their best to climb to the top. And what about the man falling on the left? To me, this looks as though he tried to climb to the top, only to be knocked down. Perhaps this artist does not believe in social mobility, lol!

Upper class is in no way the majority group, but it is definitely the dominant group. It is the rich that make the rules for all. Members of the upper classes are allowed a great number of privileges. Oddly enough, celebrities get free clothes and jewelry as the designers see that as advertisement. Celebrities are the last folks needing free clothes! Members of the upper class typically have high credit scores so they receive lower interest rates on mortgages, insurance, loans and credit cards. These are just some of the privileges the dominant upper class group receives. There are countless others.

At the end of the day, we are all human. We all want to live a good life and to be able to provide for our families. Those of us that are parents worry about our kids. We all have bills that must be paid on time. We all love to be entertained. Despite having all of these things in common, our social class seems to define who we are as individuals. Our social class is a label, one that creates an unnecessary divide between us as humans.

–Kim

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