Most Americans don't like the idea that there might be social classes. Classes imply that people have relatively fixed stations in life. Even more, Americans tend to deny that classes might be rooted in wealth and occupational roles. They talk about social class, but with euphemisms like the suits, Joe Sixpack, and the other side of the tracks etc
Americans dislike for the idea of class is deeply rooted in the country's colonial and revolutionary history. Colonial America seemed very different from other countries to its new inhabitants because it was a rapidly expanding frontier country with no feudal aristocracy or rigid class structure. The sense of difference was heightened by the need for solidarity among all classes in the war for freedom from the British.
[...] Is There an American Upper Class If the owners and managers of large income-producing properties in the U.S. are also a social upper class, then it should be possible to create a very large network of interrelated social institutions whose overlapping members are primarily wealthy families and high-level corporate leaders. These institutions should provide patterned ways of organizing the lives of their elders from infancy to old age and create a relatively elite style of life. If the class is a sociological reality, the names and faces may change somewhat over the years, but the social institutions that underlie the upper class must persist with only gradual change over several generations. [...]
[...] Although most people in Kansas City can point to the existence of exclusive neighborhoods in suggesting that there is a class of “blue bloods” or it is members of the upper-middle class and the upper class itself whose reports demonstrate that clubs and similar social institutions as well as neighborhoods give the class an institutional existence. Although these social indicators are a convenient tool for research purposes, they are far from perfect in evaluating the class standing of any specific individual because they are subject to two different kinds of errors that tend to cancel each other out in group data. [...]
[...] When it is determined that a minority group has only a small percentage of its members in leadership positions, even though it comprises 10 to 20% of the population in a given city or state, then the basic processes of power- inclusion and exclusion-are inferred to be at work. This indicator is not perfect because some official positions may not really posses the power they are thought to have, and some groups or classes may exercise the power from behind the scenes. [...]
[...] Class as a relationship is always operating, but the people in any given economic category may or may not live in the same neighborhoods or interact socially. They may or may not think of themselves as being members of one or anther class. Membership Network Analysis: The empirical study of the degree to which a given economic category is also a social class begins with a search for connections among the people and institutions that are thought to constitute it. [...]
[...] Since then, every liberal, radical, populist, or ultraconservative political group has claimed that it represents people” in its attempt to wrest arbitrary power from the “vested interests” the “economic elite,” the “cultural elite”, media,” the bureaucrats,” or the “politicians in Washington.” Who Benefits In American society, wealth and well-being are highly valued. People seek to own property, to have high incomes, to have interesting and safe jobs, to enjoy the finest in travel and leisure, and to live long and healthy lives. [...]
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