The Social Classes In Society Cultural Studies Essay


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When sociologists talk about social class, they refer to a group of individuals who occupy a similar position in the economic system of production.  Within that system occupation is very important because it provides financial rewards, stability and benefits like healthcare. Now the question is, are people in similar positions, aware of each other? In broad terms, yes. We get information by type of job, neighborhood, clothing, cars, etc. Also get information by conversation - topics, style, grammar etc.

I considered myself to be in the working class, working my way up to be in the upper-middle class one day. First and foremost I am Haitian, I moved here in December of 2001. Despite the fact that Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere I wasn't exactly in the working class when I lived there. In Haiti, I considered myself to be in the upper-class. However, all that changed when I came here in the United States. The working class is used in a wide variety of ways, some of which are controversial. As a result, some people view the term as an insult, for example, while others adopt it as a symbol of personal pride. And for me I take it as a personal pride for the fact that I worked for everything I have. Nothing was passed down to me like some people. For example, some people grew up having everything set and ready for them like cars, jobs, cell phones, etc… You name it.

Although I am proud to be in the working class, don't get me wrong I would love to not have to work for everything I acquire. I would love to have something's pass down to me, but that's not the case. Therefore, I have to work and earn whatever I want. We know that portion of the working class work in unskilled or semiskilled professions for wages which are typically low. On average, the working class work environments are distinguished by very rigid schedules with penalties for workers who run late or slack on the job, and they are often organized in a very hierarchical way, with a clear description between workers, managers, and employers.

Just as each culture has its own distinct taste, each economic class develops its own taste as well. This is easy to see especially in food culture-many in the lower class and some in the middle class live their entire lives not knowing what "foie gras" is. Not all mediums of art are popular across all classes. Some are tied to a specific class, like Fine Arts is to the upper class, film is to the middle class and as for the working class "bootleg videos" are what we have. As a result of being in the working class my taste, attitude and lifestyle has been greatly affected. Being in the working class has put a limit on everything for me. On the other hand if you are the upper class, everything is nearly possible and there are little or no limitation on what one cannot do. For example, some former members of the upper class do not have to work and because of that they have a lot of time on their hands to cultivate taste, and thus develop more radical taste than that of the working class. In the working class, working is all that we have and because we have so little we cannot afford to miss any days of work.

As a working class, I cannot buy artworks and send them straight to a warehouse; we buy artworks so that we can display them in our houses. And that is if we could afford the piece of art in the first place, which we would not be able to because they are so expensive. This is an example I had to give to show that the working class would not want to spend money on something like that. The upper class, on the other hand, has other reasons for buying art besides decorating their houses. One of them is pure investment. Buying art is as risky as, if not riskier than, buying penny-stocks or junk bonds. This is a strategy only the upper class can afford to execute. In addition, the upper class buys art in order to assert their identities. The middle class does the same by collecting books and CDs. However, in the working class the most we can afford is burned CDs or "bootleg" DVDs. Surprisingly, it is amusing to see people who lack identities of their own often define themselves by consuming identities of others. As working class we know that we cannot afford to collect books and CDs, but we try anyway. Knowing what books and CDs a person owns is a convenient way to know something subjective about him. The members of the upper class go beyond mass-produced products of art. Instead of asking what books and CDs they own, they ask what fine artists they own. However, being in the working class and being an immigrant has made it even more difficult to acquire those taste.

My attitude is significantly affected by my class position. Being in the working class, it is hard to imagine why anyone would buy a piece of conceptual art that consists of a DVD player and a projector for ten- thousand dollars. That is a complete waste of money to me. If something cost half of what I am making at my job, then I should probably stay away from it. Everything from what I eat and what I wear has been affected due to my class position. I am currently in a relationship with a European-American and my attitude has shown it all. She and I come from two completely different places and things that she sees cost 50-dollars, cost 150 dollars to me. It is not that I do not have 50 dollars, but to me it seems as if I'm spending too much because I could be spending it on something else or buy more than only one thing. Also, because she is from an upper-middle class her taste is far from the taste that I have. I am more conservative on mostly everything and wasting is not in my language at most of the time. But what can I say is, if ones' annual household income is 4 million dollars, 10 thousand dollars would be equivalent to 300 dollars of the working class household income of 20 thousand dollars. It is not difficult to imagine collecting as a hobby something that cost 100 dollars each.

As for as my lifestyle

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