class - basis how society is divided (upper,middle,lower,professional), there is talks about if there should be upper-middle, upper-upper
there is disagreement about being born into a certain social class determines adult income/education or if other factors like ethnicity/race/gender matter more
why not rely on continuous scales (high to low income/wealth etc,)to discuss inequality?
- Because in reality, people tend to group together. People in certain jobs have roughly same education, income, pattern of wealth ownership. Even if you have types of ministers (group within group), there are clear pattern / groups
- idea of groups is that groups (classes) can be meaning to people who are members of them. Class can be important part of person's identity. Class identity varies from person to person, over time, and from place to place. People have conception of class groups, therefore they are real.
to fully understand definition and measurement of class and why debates arise regarding its meaning and implications - consider 2 factors: economic & cultural.
- Address these dimensions before considering how many classes there are, class consciousness, implications of social class
Common way to identify class position - use economic, cultural / behavior traits
social class - group of people with common levels of realative wealth , income, occupation, education
Objective method of categorizing people - using economic characteristics to identify class
- Sociologists often refer collectively to objective indicators of social class as - Socioeconomic status (SES)
- grouping people like this is complicated because measures are "interrelated " but not "perfectly correlated" which - leads difficulty to decide where one group ends and another begins. ex. people with high income usually have high wealth because greater income makes it easier to save money
Disagreements arise when identifying social classes because relationship among variables are not perfect.
- doctor who spends a lot = high income / low wealth
- retiree - saved money all life on low income = low income / high wealth
- education/occupation makes it more confusing
-high prestige, education / high income = doctor
- high prestige, education / low income = teacher
*income, wealth, education, and occupational prestige are not highly correlated, "they tend to be highly consistent" for most people. - Makes it possible to identify social classes
W Lloyd Warner
- early effort to identify how many social classes exist in America (still relevant today)
- Him and students conducted research studies in 1930's in communities in New England , The South, & Midwest using "interviews" to identify social classes
- yankee city & other towns "were filled with references to the "big people with money "and little people who are poor"
- Economic terms were used to designate superior/ inferior positions
- Community members "assigned" people to "high status" by referring to them as bankers, property owners, people of high salary, professional men,
- Placed people in "low status" by calling them laborer, ditch diggers, low wage earners.
"Since" W Lloyd Warner, other researchers "Coleman & Rainwater" (former students of Warner)
- confirmed that people rely heavily on economic measures to make determinations about social class
- replicated Warner studies in larger cities and found similar economic measures determine class in that context too
- Made book "Social Standing in America: New Dimensions" which differed from Warner in some class structure but agreed with Warner that level of occupational prestige, education and income provided the basis for class divisions in america
- also included findings about "determinants of class being related" to one another
- UP TO FOUR TIMES CAPITA HOUSEHOLD INCOME - income & income status are "Linear" - income and status associated with it at same rate. 10% income rise, 10% status rise
- RICH HOUSEHOLDS - top of income distribution - income rises, status slightly rise (already have high status)
- income is most important & decisive component of overall status
- Income double, status increases 50% even with same occupation / education
- occupation double, status increase 22%
- education double, status increase 7%
- Income is NOT central cause of overall status because "education" determines both occupational & income status, "therefore education is stronger cause of total status"
-"Coleman & Rainwater" developed model still used today describe american class structure / class boundaries
AMERICAN CLASS STRUCTURE: CULTURAL DIMENSIONS (p. 94)
- identify class position - use economic, cultural / behavior traits
- Cultural elements are behaviors, lifestyles, attitudes , beliefs, and preferences common among members of the social class
- these characteristics provide more "subjective definition" of social classes that are comparable, Not identical, to definition that emerges when economic indicators are used
- cultural component is hard to measure causing disagreements where to draw class boundaries
- cultural dimension of class reflects the physical and social environments shared by members of the same class and creates consistent approaches / views from the world.
- contrast between people from different classes show differences that environment makes on lifestyle. (poor class - pessimistic, live in bad neighborhood/ wealth - positive comfortable environment)
Behaviors and Preferences are included in "subjective definitions" of "social class" - "Cultural Capital" (p 95)
- Ex.'s: include speech patterns, leisure activities, home-decorating styles, and preferences in music, clothing, food, beverages, vehicles, and other consumer products that vary in predictable ways with social class. Patterns suggest there is more to social class than statistical differences in economic measures
Cultural Capital - Class-specific behaviors and preferences / activities and tastes ex. upper class / lower class
- includes formal knowledge (knowledge gained in school) & informal knowledge (less structured interactions)
financial capital - economic resources
economic and cultural indicators of class - financial & cultural capital are different but related
- ex. - behaviors , preferences, and consumption patterns often correspond to a person's level of income and wealth
Weber's notion of class - material resources,
Weber's notion of status - person's position in social order and is defined by consumption, social intersts, and lifestyle
relationship between financial capital and cultural capital changes when a person changes social class
- poor gets rich, jumps social class, wealth, But cultural capital (behaviors don't jump as fast)
Methods of Identifying Class
- methods of identifying the number and size of social classes - Objective / Subjective / Reputational approaches
- "Objective" - income / wealth / education /occupation either alone or together. use information that's personal but not influenced by personal opinion or evaluation. Early attempt to use objective info was Residential Approach. People live near others in same class. University of Chicago (Frazier 1932/Zorbach 1929). Objective also used to identify occupational prestige ranking - identify occupational status. "Contemporary Objective" - likely to use socioeconomic data (surveys) to identify class groups. Advantage - not biased by people's misconceptions of their position in social/economic ranking system. Disadvantage - seldom include cultural or lifestyle elements.
- "Subjective" - person identifies their own social class. Advantage: Includes info beyond numerical data including info about lifestyle that can be used alone or with objective measures. Difficult to obtain data on subjective class ranking. Standard social /economic surveys rarely contain info because it's time-consuming & resource-intensive to collect. Person's self-evaluation may vary over time depending on mood, length of survey, or framing of question
- "Reputational" - Warner was credited developing this approach, rely on other people to identify social class. Ask people to judge social class of peers. Usually upper class
How Many Class Groups (Warner made this) (p 99)
Warner said these were clearly groups & boundaries
"Upper-upper class" - "old money families", elite,live in prestigious areas, wealth in family for at least a generation, connections to european nobility, guaranteed to keep rank each generation
"Lower-Upper class" - "new money", elite, not born into money(upper-upper) so they are in separate, lower group. Entrepreneurs, celebs, athletes, etc.
"Upper-Middle class" - professionals, business people, politicans, others with high levels of education & advanced degrees (MBA, PhD , MD), no family lineage, unviersity professors here too
"Lower-Middle class" - Lower paid white-collar worker, No manual labor, ex. school teacher, owner of small business, nurse, sales rep
"Upper-Lower" - Working Class, manual labor / blue-collar - Warner "members here held jobs, kept clean houses, stayed out of trouble
"lower-lower - truly poor / homeless, permanently unemployed, working poor, families depend on public assistance
*Another attempt at "identifying number of social classes" was in , *"DAVIS, Gardner, and Gardner's" (1941) Deep South: A social-anthropological Study of caste and class
Warner had hypothesis - class structure looked differently depending on one's position in it but people overall agreed on placement of people in upper-upper and lower-lower class. "Upper Class" people used "time" as basis for distinguishing families like old-money / new money, "middle class" used morals "where people should be", lower class used "wealth"
"Coleman & Rainwater " (students of warner) made their own map of social structure with both subjective & objective info on families (income / wealth / education / occupation)
(p 101 - almost same as warner)
Upper Americans - inherited wealth / "high income" / advanced or professional degrees)
Lower-upper - top professionals / senior executives large corporations - "high wealth / income' that was earned rather than inherited - advanced / professional degrees
Upper Middle - managers, moderate to high income / wealth
Middle - High School diploma / some college, median income
Working - blue-collar, high school diploma , moderate to low income
Upper - Lower - semi-poor / unskilled laborer - might have high school diploma or dropped out before finishing high school
Lower-Lower - Truly poor, rely on government payments, some high school or less, low income
****Coleman & Rainwater provided precise estimates of family income for each group & specified percentage of population in each category.
- 2% upper-upper and lower-upper
- 19% upper-middle class
- 13% upper-lower and lower-lower
- Remainder in middle class
*Remainder book describes class structure as Gilbert & colleagues. Similar structure is similar over time
*Intergenerational transmission of class - process by which parents and other adults affect social class that children ultimately will join
*social reproduction - refers to process by which social class re-created from generation to generation through conscious & "unintentional practices, behaviors, and social connections."
rich parents teach kids proper attitudes, self discipline to maintain social class for next generation. they are in denial because they lose themselves and have to be like the rest to fit in class. they teach how to be donate to schools, causes to stay socially recognized and accepted.
Rich parents with high prestige jobs want the same for kids. These jobs have financial security, salaries, stability, advancement, and control over others
Kohn and other sociologists made the "learning-generalization" - lessons people learn throughout life (like work) can affect their perspective on the world and values beyond the workplace including how they raise children, shaping their experiences, and ultimately their social class.
Middle/Upper Class raise kids with reasoning, activities (piano), sense of entitlement.
Lower Class - Accomplishment of Natural Growth - No entitlement, unstructured leisure time, hang out with friends, less discussions and less reasoning
Persell 1997 / Cookson 1985 - Where kids go to school shapes future. Elite school give training to ensure staying in that social class. Boarding school take away family aspect to take over the growing process and teach high standards for success to help ensure kids get prestigious jobs when grown up. Working class school students learn skills necessary for working class jobs.
Class Consciousness - person's perception of class and his/her own position in the class structure.
1) Class Awareness - Most basic level of class consciousness - Just aware there is social class
2) Class Identification - Aware there is social class & ability to place themselves in a specific social class
3) Class Solidarity - Shares interests, values, and desire with other members of the class group, also "implies awareness" of other classes (out-groups)
4) Class Action - leads to behaviors or actions taken on behalf of the class group
Social Scientists have studied class divisions since the 1930's (Centers 1949, Davis, Gardner, and Gardner 1941, Parsons 1937, Warner and Lunt 1941. Since then, consistently found evidence of class awareness, identification, solidarity (Collom 2003, Davis, Gardner, Gardner 1941, Warner and Lunt 1941)
Class awareness and class identification in usa - common
Class action - Not common
Many workers only join unions if they see a benefit that they won't get otherwise
Labor unions and Political parties encourage class action "across classes" rather than a single class
Less labor union membership than there was back then. It's expensive with dues, expenses, etc.
Marriage across classes is common - single family have members in different classes. ex. doctor, teacher, etc. This reduces class identification and class action.
If social mobility were less common, class identification would be stronger
Individualism in America leads people to believe that "individual talent and motivation (rather than class) lead to success and upwards social mobility
Chapter 4 Summary:
There is general agreement that classes exist, but there is little consensus about details of class groupings.
A Common way to "identify class groups" is to use "economic and other objective traits such as wealth, income, occupation, and education. "
- The relationship among these traits is not perfect, which leads to disagreement in the grouping of social classes. However, there generally is a high degree of consistency in judgments of people's social class based on traits
Another common way to identify class groups/social classes is to use subjective characteristics (cultural and lifestyle traits). Speech aptterns, leisure activities, style of home, music preference, clothes, food, are common among people of same class. Cultural capital and Financial capital are correlated within class.
Determining the boundaries among classes is diffcult. Underlying Class structure that emerges from different strategies have consistent traits.
- Researchers use objective (income/wealth/education/occupation), subjective (allow people to identify their own class) / reputational (allow people to identify other people's classes) strategies to identify class groupings
Warmer & Lunt developed one of the first models of social class. Warner's students refined and updated this strategy in recent decades. Based on these models, current american society is divided into following classes "upper class, upper middle class, lower-middle, working class, working poor, and underclass" - *****american social structure
Historically, class structure has been rigid due in part to intergenerational transmision of class, or social reproduction.
- Some argue that the upper class deliberately uses its power and financial resources to replicate the class structure across generations, ensuring that their children will enjoy the same privileges they enjoy.
- Others argue that exposure to certain behaviors, lifestyles, social connections account for social reproduction. For instance, parent's occupations influence social reproduction.
Childrearing (child raising) practices may contribute to transmission of class across generations.
- Middle and upper class parents are more likely to use concerted cultivation (organized activities, piano, etc. and discussion and interactions with their children)
- poor parents are likely to use a parenting style known as the accomplishment of natural growth. Unstructured, fun with other kids.
- Variation in raising children may have important role in re-creating class from generation to generation
Most of United States in Middle Class. People at ends of distribution get most attention.
Very richest - 7000 families account for $2 trillion of country's $43 trillion in household wealth and earned $40 billion of $7 trillion in household income (Havens 2004 & Schervish 2005)
Social Theory tries explaining Wealth & power are related
and group called Power Elite
Rich donate a lot (philanthropy)
Public Roster - Used to identify and study wealthy - Forbes 400.
- Samuel Ward McAllister (rich family, married millionaire daughter) created public roster. Worked with William Astor (also rich, wanted to "define" society) to make the public roster. ( started with 300 names who could fit into Mr. Astor's ballroom )
Wealthy 100 - identify 100 wealthiest Americans ever. Doesn't include wealthy who lost all fortune after making it.
Forbes 400 - uses estimate #'s from public records to make list of 400 richest Americans
- rich don't like to give private info to magazine
- 2 top wealth industries - retail + technology
- Lots of "self-made" wealth, questions how much movement is there in and out of upper class
Old Rich - families that were historically in the upper class and left legacies to children
American upper class developed in "Gilded Age" - last part of 19th century to beginning of 20th century
Social Register - list for rich people to know they "made it"
New Rich - people who recently came into money, not by heritage ( A lot of new wealth came from information + technology industry)
***Major struggle between Old Rich & New Rich
Frank wrote book "Richistan: A Journey through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich - documents examples of new wealth and provides details of how the rich live.
- Red Cross Ball (taking chair was highest prestigious honor)- Palm Beach Florida Fundraiser / long standing elite tradition - shows struggle between new rich & old rich
Stanley & Danko 1996 wrote book "The Millionaire Next Door "
- made term , "Middle Class Millionaires"
- more millionaires look like ordinary americans in terms of job, education, lifestyle.
- wealth expansion (and stock market) and changing job opportunites (technology) make it possible to save/invest and become wealthy
Prince & Schiff 2008 identify "Middle Class Millionaires" as between $1 - 10 million net worth.
- work 70 hours per week, always available
- overcame work , personal obstacles to be wealthy
- anyone can be rich with hard work, perseverance, and determination
- education big part of being rich. Poor childrendon't have access to top education like rich children do.
Poor people have more debt than assets sometimes
- Rich / upper class like to save money
- Middle class - save less
- Poor save the least
- Rich "sometimes" don't save because they feel they have enough
Median wealthy family (top 10 %) earns 7 times more income and has more than 700 times more net worth than median poor family (bottom 25 %)
Rich / Middle hold money in "checking & savings and retirement accounts."
- Median family in top 10 % has nearly $430,000 in retirement assets compared to $5,000 of median poor
- important outcome of ownership of assets that can grow significantly in value (stocks) - is that ownership of assets create more ownership at a faster rate than with other assets (rich get richer)
- wealthy own real estate / business assets
- tangible assets (real assets) - house / car / house / plane
- financial assets - checking acct, stocks, bonds, (can't touch but has value)
- primary residence - family's main home
- business equity = business assets - debt
Rich have a lot of debt (liabilities) - money owed to another party
mortgage debt - house debt
3 reasons rich have mortgage
1) multiple houses would be an expensive vacation/investment property for their rich lifestyle making it necessary to have a mortgage
2) Might rather put money aside for stocks ,bonds instead of paying a house off in full
3) Tax deduction for interest paid on mortgage
Rich are financially secure
- less likely to get hit by predatory lending practices
- Low debt to income ratio (ratio identifies resources available for family to pay off debt if necessary)
- don't carry balances credit card
Income & Wealth are not perfectly correlated
- sometimes high income / high wealth
- other times high income / little savings
Some jobs consistently associated with high pay
- US Census reports doctors, lawyers, engineer, etc. have high pay, *** but doesn't show self employed people, under-report compensation such as stock options because omitted from income
CEO's extraordinary high income
- AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations) argue it's unfair ceo's make so much money and some employees don't make enough to get basic necessities.
- The Corporate Library - Others argue companies need good leadership from ceo's to remain competitive
- Frank & Cook 1995 - compared ceo's to competitive athletes & movie stars - explained that in "winner-takes-all" markets - "top people are only slightly better than everyone else"
- hiring someone with a proven track record means "rewards are stuck at the top"
Rich spend more money than most
Juliet Schor - wrote book "The Overspent American" - showed that definition of "necessity" changed over the years. Since the early 1970's people considered 2 cars, tv, a/c, etc. a necessity.
- Even in depression of 2009, people spent tons of money
Thorstein Veblen 1989
- leisure class - (****conspicuous consumption) - luxury fever - demonstration of wealth and social position through buying extraordinary goods / services measured by quanity / price (showing status by buying expensive or a lot of something)
people buy expensive things to "keep up with others" or "be unique
Consumption doesn't give happiness.
Excess spending is a disease (affluenza) - creates loneliness, rising debt, bankruptcy
Psychologists show that giving and receiving love gives happiness, NOT wealth, fame, appearance
"Conspicuous consumption" is not a perfect indicator of being fixated on "extrinsic rewards" (happiness from buying clothes , cars), but they are correlated
Wealthy make majority of charitable contributions
Wealthy volunteer a lot
estate - wealth remaining after someone dies
Schervish - charity has increased over the years, it's more important than gifts to heirs
Why rich people give charity
- Noblesse oblige - rich give money to less fortunate to improve their well being / lives
- sense of obligation / family tradition - also keep in memory their family's position in society
- Ostrander - upper class mothers teach children to have sense of obligation by volunteering and being part of community from a young age
- Kendall - elite women use power to enforce class/racial boundaries & to reproduce privilege
- Odendahl - motivated by self interest, learn new skills, make contacts to learn their position in society & meaning of their wealth
Power & Wealth (upper class) are related, NOT same
Power - having significant voice and ability to make decisions in central economic, political, social organizations.
Wealthy often hold powerful positions
Elite Research - Research that asks who is powerful & why
C Wright Mills's - wrote book "The Power Elite"
- Rich people have jobs that let them live outside the ordinary environment that most people live in
- American power structure - loose coalition of leaders of various interest groups that lacked cohesion & common set of objectives
- Power Elite - "people who had the most of what there is to have" and "who are powerful or able to realize their will even when others resist it" and are members of 'political, military, economic circles" which has national significance
- Argued that wealth and power are almost always shared because of their influence in large corporations, politics, military
- there is a single unified elite
- wrote book, "Who Rules America" - members of upper class disproportionately continue to hold the top leadership roles in America. Membership in upper economic class is the primary route to power within business, government , and cultural sectors.
- Corporate owners have interest and ability to government with top level executives in corporate community and policymakers to make the "Power Elite"
- Upper class = Ruling Class, there is clear realtionship among wealthy, those who control business organizations, and those who make political decisions.
- Ruling class come from same private schools, socialize together, work together in business organizations, and influence political decisions.
- hard to measure power
- indicators of power - 1) who benefits ( who owns what most people want), 2) who governs (occupies government / institutional positions) 3) who wins (who's initiatives / policies are used) 4) who shines (who has reputation for being powerful)
- upper class own disproportionate amount of stock, large stockholding families continue to manage and direct large corporations , are over represented on boards of large companies, middle class managers who became professional class managers got there by getting in socially / economically
- argued his data shows class unity & consciousness - "corporate rich are drawn together by economic interests and social cohesion. Social cohesion is based in 2 types of relationships: 1) membership network: common membership in specific social institutions, and 2) friendship based on social interactions in those institutions
- elite share attitude of fully deserving their privilege, an attitude useful to manage employees who often share this perspective
Thomas Dye - political scientist who contributed to relationship between wealth and power
- oligarchic model of national policy making.
- power elite are those who lead the organizations that control "roughly half of the nation's resources in industry, finance, insurance, mass media, foundations, education, law, and civic and cultural affairs"
- agreed with Mills and Domhoff that there is a "small" group of corporate leaders with disproportionate economic power and it's socially cohesive and very powerful. They influence political decision making funding the inital research, study and planning that underlie public policy.
- Differed from Mills and Domhoff because he did Not argue for close relationship between money and power. He said easy to identify wealthy people with no power (inherited fortune but no corporate power). Downplayed social clubs / organizations, said they are business leaders but have little political influence.
E. Digby Baltzell
- Agreed with Domhoff and Mills that there is a strong link between those who have wealth and those who are powerful. He said this relationship is warranted and socially beneficial.
- 3 groups: 1) Elite (top) - those who lead, make decisions in critical business, political, media, educational organizations. 2) upper class - socially cohesive group that comes from old-money families and lives prileged lives. 3) The Establishment - consists of those who are both elite and members of upper class. The establishment is a ruling class similar to Domhoff's conception.
- Argued that there is an advantage to having families who inherited both wealth and power to fill leadership roles across generations. (Benefits are social continuity and stability)
- Also recognized that establishment needs new members to prevent it from becoming complacent and neglecting leadership duties. *Must remain willing to accept new members from among those who become "elites based on abilites."
-Strategic Elites- multiple ,fragmented elites in modern society rather than a single upper class. They are collection of nonintegrated groups with power in separate areas
- Book - "Beyond the Ruling Class", Argued that strategic elites, not upper class, are most powerful members of american society.
Strategic Elite are those in society that are responsible for maintaining an institution, its roles, and its norms.
-Strategic elite preside over sectors of society including key economic, political, cultural organizations
-Functionalism - elite responsible for realization of important social goals and continuity of social order
-4 factors that explain existence of strategic elite: 1) population growth, 2)occupational specialization(division of labor), 3)growth of formal organizations and related bureaucracy, and 4) expansion of moral diversity.
-Even if there are multiple elites, they don't exist in complete isolation and some people may simultaneously fill multiple elite positions
-Psychological distinctions that unify the elite. For example, Lerner and colleagues argued that "class rules exist because cultural, political, ethical, intellectual elites articulate a worldview that everyone, ruling and ruled, comes to uphold.
Higley & Moore 1981 - integrated elite model with various perspectives
-network of formal/informal communication, friendships, and influences wielding among top position holders in all major elite groups.
-No single elite group, rather, interaction among all elite groups is frequent and is markedly centralized in and between a relatively small number of persons from all major groups.
-Asserted that political-governmental elite are targets of interaction among the elites and that these elites are switching points in the interaction
Race, nationality, religion in the Elite
- earlier decades, mostly white males + protestants (domhoff)
- Now - Jews, women, african americans, etc. But significant persistance in representation of groups with histories of privilege (elite) - (Pyle)
-New entrants in upper class assimilate quickly to dominant group's perspectives (Domhoff)
- new elites assimilate regardless of race, ethnicity, gender (alba)
-newcomers to upper class find ways to demonstrate their loyalty to traditional elite values and attitudes, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender (zweigenhaft/Domhoff)
Women in upper class p. 138
-More women today in upper class
-Argument is fewer women are able to move into upper class based on their own accomplishments compared to ancestry
-Women still under represented in upper class
-Kendall argued women's power is based on a combination of economic power that they hold either individually or jointly with other members of their families and the social power that they derive from influential social connections and prestigious organizational affiliations
-Women with positions of power in male dominated areas are pressured to assimilate differently, are expected to be tough but gentle, act as buffer between male leaders and corporate force, and are less likely to be married and having children becomes more difficult. They adopt roles similar to those of unmarried men which makes it possible for them to succeed in male dominated areas (Neale)
Business Cycles & Inequality
Business cycles - fluctuations in economic activity over long periods. Includes expansion followed by downturns then merges back to expansion.
Expansion - growth / boom, employment rises, salaries & wage increase, wealth levels grow. Those with high wealth disproportionately benefit (get more rich than poor get more money)
Downturns - Contraction, economic recession, economic crisis
Wealth of rich is on long term trend like that of stock market. They get richer when there is growth and poorer when there is drops.
recession - economic contraction, decline in business and other econ activity lasting more than a few months, resulting in declines in income, asset values, production, retail sales, employment. Stocks drop
economic crisis - extreme downturn, which economic sectors suffer extreme losses in value and output.
Business cycle affects inequality - distribution of well-being across households
During economic contraction - inequality drops because wealth of rich drops a lot so closes the poor to rich gap more.
Summary Ch. 5
Wealthiest families of the US account for approximately 0.01 % of population but own a disproportionate share of the country's wealth and earn a disproportionate share of income
Identifying who is in upper class is difficult because there are relatively few people in this group. One strategy for studying the wealthy is the public roster - listing of members in upper class (forbes 400)
American upper class that began to develop during the last part of the 19th century and early 20th century was known as gilded age. today's old rich typically can trace their wealth to ancestors made in gilded age. New rich recently made money. Middle class millionaires are families who recently made money but aren't wealthy enough to be at the top of the distribution.
America's wealthiest families own assets and earn income that is dramatically higher than those in the middle and bottom of the distribution of wealth and income. Wealthy families also save more from current income. Then the wealthy invest in financial assets (retirement account and stocks ) and real estate (real estate and businesses)
Like other people, very rich also have debt including mortgage and consumer debt (credit card) but they are financially secure with low debt to income ratios
Conspicuous consumption and "luxury fever" are particularly evident among the upper class. Commentators offer various explanations for conspicuous consumption including a need to demonstrate membership in the lite, keeping up with the Joneses, a desire for distinction "affluenza"
The wealthy also give billions of dollars each year to charitable causes. Reasons for philanthropy include noblesse oblige, obligation to family traditions , efforts to reify a family's social position and perhaps self interest
Power Elite is a subset of upper class that has both wealth and power. Explanations of nature and implications of the elite have attracted research attentions since the early days of social science. Contributors to elite research vary outside the ordinary existence that most people experience., a single ruling class that has money and leads important organizations, a socially cohesive class that funds initial research underlying public policy, a justified elite, and a strategic elite
Whereas traditionally under-represented groups are becoming more common in the upper class and power elite, some groups are still not represented proportionally to their position in the population. African Americans, Hispanics, non protestants, and woman tend to remain under-represented
Business Cycles affect wealth of upper class and they also contribute to changes in levels of inequality over time. Income and wealth levels as well a inequality respond to economic changes (booms and bursts) in complex but significant ways
Ch 6 - Middle Class and Workers
9 of 10 Americans say they are middle or upper middle class.
Middle class is default category between rich and poor that says little about what class membership holds.
Middle class is 3/4 of American population who earn between $30k and $150k annually. This group is not cohesive. It's different classes of people grouped into one category.
Conflict and Functionalist theories
Karl Marx and successor Max Weber (Conflict)
Otis Duncan, Donald Treiman (functionalist)
Karl Marx (conflict)
-Argued social class is economically determined. All material matter (knowledge, thoughts, ideology) are determined by economic relations (materialism)
-Before Marx, popular belief was that ultimate nature of reality was in thoughts and ideas - idealism (quote - "I think, therefore, I am" -philosopher Descartes)
-Argued that social class is structured by dialectic materialism - ideology, knowledge, thoughts, culture, all material things are a result of economic relations of a society (also called means of production)
- means of production - material tools or physical input.
- mode of production - human input
- changes between social epochs, according to marx, result from inherent conflict among groups, known in philosophy as "dialectics"
- Dialectics - seeds of one social epoch exist within the previous epoch and are created by the conflict among groups. This process, then, is what drives social change
-Marx was a dialectic materialist, he perceived the entire history of human species as class struggles and revolutions.
-Marx theory was informed by a historical perspective that includes early man. His "theory of social progress" begins with "primitive communism" - His theory was early man didn't create more than what was consumed so no groups can monopolize resources. No surplus existed in early days. Stratification was not based economically.
-when there is surplus, people became groups and fought for control, then slavery followed when groups got more powerful.
-Through Man's relation to production, slavery revolutionized into feudalism
- Feudalism - small aristocracy - families of nobility and clergy - controlled arable land and means of production. Social stratification arose from divisions of labor from which middle class was created. Within this, groups formed trade unions and professional associations that created privilege for some people despite them being lower class compared to nobles.
-Conflict between aristocracy and vassals started capitalism (privatized control of means of production)
-aristocracy - families of nobility and clergy
-Vassals - those who worked the land
Two social classes exist in capitalism.
- bourgeois (owners)
- proletariat (workers) - included petit bourgeois
petit bourgeois (small business owners)
marx theory conflict between owners and workers would result in a revolution where workers would overthrow owners and gain control of the means of production. (perspective influenced by French Revolution)
2nd part to marx theory - unequal power relations between owners and workers would result in "socialism" -means of productions held publicly instead of privately (this would happen after revolution)
After socialism, would be return to "communism" - means of production would not be owner, instead would be shared by all people as during primitive communism
Critiques of Marx theory
1) workers revolution didn't happen
2) marx didn't think of managers. modern day there is managers who earn good money and have a voice in how company is run
3)Rise of trade unions - today there is unions- organization of workers with power to bargain collectively with owners on behalf of workers right and privileges. Collective bargaining - negotiation between labor and management.
unions help with wages, benefits, working conditions, increased earnings
unions had decline in 1980's but grew again starting in 2006
marx assumed revolutions would overturn capitalism and power returns to people, but that didn't happen
Weber (conflict theorist)
- defined class - more than only relations to production, he added acquisition of goods and patterns of principles associated with their consumption to class analysis.
- Considered "lifestyle" to be the best indicator of "class" and status
- 3 forms power (even though economic resources were important). 1. Class, 2. status (similar social standing), 3. party (voluntary membership)
- observed that status groups often form parties that are groups of people who come together to effect social actions on their behalf (political parties, union, voluntary associations)
To weber, class had more to do with process of allocation - that is how resources are divided and secured among society. These resources included Marx concepts of economy, politics , culture but weber added to the list of resources 3 types of capital: social, honorific, civil.
honor - determines status of specific positions (like managers that marx didn't think of)
*conflict theory summary - In short, conflict theory assumes that middle class consist of workers. Stratification of workers depends on economy, politics, status, affiliations, lifestyle within society. (weber / Marx )
-views class divisions as function of naturally distributed positions on a occupational hierarchy.
status - earnings, power, prestige, social standing
middle class - continuum of occupations between lowest and highest groups
Today, many agencies and social scientists use an updated version of Duncan socioeconomic index developed by sociologist Otis Duncan.
Functionalist Theory - occupation linked to prestige by amount of expertise associated with it. ex. Doctors need more knowledge, so they have higher prestige and income
to earn degree, takes time meaning take time in school. Therefore there is a mechanism to encourage people to delay entry into workforce. Society determines which occupations are needed, ability of individual determines who fills each position.
Functionalist see social class as linear - continuum of stratification structure.
Functionalist define middle class as group of people with similar levels of prestige and status.
Middle class Summary - middle class consists of workers due to ability, power relations. Both perspectives agree members of middle class generally share an ideology and are able to mobilize to create social and societal change and to retain power through group membership (labor unions) . To differentiate subgroups of middle class, social scientists use terms "white/blue collar workers, manual and nonmanual workers, and middle class and working class"
C wright mills
-leading sociologist of 1950s reflected on origins of middle class
-he classified members of middle class by occupation.
-Owners/operators of independent retail/productive enterprise -"older middle class"
-"new middle class" - composed of white collar workers, managerial positions, retail clerks, office workers
-solidarity - new middle class came less social connection to others of same class.
- old middle class shared in trade unions / professional associations
During 1800's - ferdinand tonnies called gemeinschaft to gesellschaft
-rural ended, cities began
-americans evolved to middle-class society through 5 characteristics of lifestyle: 1. work, 2. consumption, 3. residential location, 4. formal/informal voluntary associations, 5. family organization and strategy.
Rise of middle class in america was after industrial revolution.
structuring of industry into manual and non-manual workers separated 2 groups
children were flesh and blood of family and natural extenstion to labor.
Children were considered labor that was owned by family.
Sociologist Lewish Hine - professional photographing child workers. His photos galvanized labor movement and encourage lawmakers to enact child-labor laws.
in 1941m children were perceived as special class of people who require legal protection against exploitation
in 19th century - 1900s- less - farm jobs, minimum age to work 16
After 1900s, women began to work in masses, in 1800's no women did, culture of domesticity (they should be home, be spiritual, too pure to work outside) and (value system in place in white upper and middle class homes that emphasized womens embodiment of virtue, women held 4 rules: piety, purity, submission, domesticity) and (man was valued by ability to provide a secure home , one that did not require his wife to leave)
Industrial revolution - machines took over many tasks. less people working. work became specialized, families got smaller
Industrial revolution grew - advancement at work grew
industrial revolution declined - family declined, income declined
culture of domesticity ended and women went to work, second paycheck was used to maintain standard of living
middle class - american dream , two parents, house, car
contradicting values - individualism - want equality for themselves not for others, selfish
middle class squeeze - shrinking of middle class, when only rich people have wages that keep up with inflation, hard to maintain lifestyle, jobs decrease and wages don't increase
middle class often treated as a default category that distinguishes a group of wokers who are not poor but not rich
middle class galvanized during industrial revolution as agrarian societies evolved into industrial societies from gemeinschaft to gesellschaft (community to society)
Conflict theorists view middle class as product of class conflict that results from dialectic relationship between workers and means of production
marx envisioned a proletariat revolution that would free workers from exploitation by owners of means of production, but he not foresee government policies restricting and prohibiting general strikes or trade unions
tradeunions work on behalf of organized labor. workers who are union members are paid more than non union members. rate of union membership has declined since 1945 but began to increase in 2007
functionalist theorists see middle class as group of workers on occupational hierarchy between rich and poor. Today, social scientists use scales like duncan status index to measure socioeconomic status
middle class whites adopted culture of domesticity which resulted in subordination of women and a focus on home as barometer of social success. to this day, many middle class families structure work so that woman may stay home to care for domestic duties while man goes to work
middle class has dinstinct lifestyle. they embrace the american dream, home ownership, secure job,vehicle, family with opportunity for upward mobility from work
many middle class americans share values that include activity, work, achievement, success, moral comfort, progress, equality, freedom, democracy, external conformity, nationalism and patriotism, individual personality, and racism and rleated group superiority
many middle class families take on debt from home loans, college tuition and credit cards. Often, this debt cannot be repaid, causing families to file for bankruptcy. Whereas some critics argue that americans spend too much, others show they actually spend less than previous generations.