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Class and power in America

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  1. Introduction
    1. American dislike for the idea of class
    2. A more democratic class system
  2. Social issue of classes today
    1. The research carried out by sociologists
    2. Class
    3. Membership network analysis
    4. Organizational network
  3. Types of empirical studies
    1. Historical case study
    2. Determining activities outside of the city
    3. Statistical analysis of the patterns of memberships and affiliations
    4. Establishing the existence of upper-class institutions
  4. What is power?
    1. Who benefits
    2. Who governs
  5. Conclusion
  6. Bibliography

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. [...]

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