Under Class, Lower Class, Working Class,Middle Class

I’ve been perusing the threads on UHC here over the last couple of days & I keep seeing these terms being thrown around. Now I’m sure people may have different views on the exact definition of each term but some people seem to have a skewed outlook on this type of thing.

The following is just my opinion.

Under class-people not willing to work. Drug dealers,welfare scammers, people able to work but claiming disability(I suppose this could be lumped in with welfare scammers), petty criminals and the like.

Lower class-People willing to work or already working but can’t really get ahead. People that bust ass but still can’t seem to get that slightly better place to live, or build up any kind of savings.

Working class-People who work hard but don’t really have any desire to climb the social-economic ladder. They like where they are and what they do & seem to be proud of earning what they have.

Middle class-People who work, but live comfortably. Generally they are home owners, have a bit of a savings built up, & don’t really have to worry if they have enough money left in the bank to buy groceries after they pay the utility bills.

Now I’m just generalizing here & saying what I think based on experience and observation. I’m sure someone with more knowledge on the subject could break it down even more.

So what say you?

To my mind, at the bottom are those who choose or are forced by circumstances to live lives on the margins of society.

Above them is the great mass of people who live within the bounds of society but are required to earn a living. These used to be divided into a multiplicity of shades and gradations (along the lines of "lower middle class’ etc.), but increasingly only two really matter:

A- those who provide services which are in effect interchangable with the services of other people, and so ideally require job security from their employer (through unions and the like);

B- those who either own thier own means of employment or who provide professional-type services which are unique and so do not ideally require job security from their employer.

Above them are people who live within the bounds of society but do not need to personally earn a living (and are not living on a pension or the like): in short, the very wealthy.

To my mind at least the difficult question in Western society at least is that group B above is increasing in wealth and power, whereas group A above is tending to lose the job security that it needs and so is decreasing in wealth and power. In short, society appears to be stratifying in what used to be described as the middle class.

From Class: A Guide Through the American Status System, by Paul Fussell:

In the last chapter, Fussell identifies a tenth class, a “Class X” of declassed intellectuals and bohemians.

BG, I can’t believe that book you constantly cite was published in 1992. It seems like something out of the 50s. Or the 1850s.

1983, republished in 1992; I don’t know if any revisions were made to the 1992 edition. In any case, 1983 is not that long ago in sociological terms; something, say, from any year earlier than 1970 would be a long time ago in sociological terms, as there were so many socioeconomic as well as political and cultural changes in the '60s and '70s (one of which, as Fussell notes, was the destruction of the lower middle class).

It does, and at the same time I’m pretty shocked that it actually seems to describe things fairly accurately.

Major disagreement here. Drug dealing may not be legal work, but it’s very hard, time-consuming and dangerous work, and at the entry level doesn’t pay more than the typical unskilled, minimum-wage job. A drug dealer that makes money real money at it puts as much time and effort into their business as a CEO.

“Hey, you guys got dental in Jersey?”

“No, man, we might have to go on strike in October!”

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

And what about people who actually can’t work? Either because they are disabled or because the jobs just aren’t there? Your “underclass” definition looks a lot like classic right wing blame-the-victims to me. Or simply denial that such people actually exist.

Maybe drug dealer was too broad of a term. How about about street vendor as a substitute.

You are correct though. A real dealer is an entrepreneur. Maybe not a legal or moral entrepreneur, but one none the less.

I thought it was clear in the OP “people able to work but claiming disability”. I’m talking about the people making fraudulent disability claims, Not someone with a legitimate medical condition that prevents them from working.

This guy sure as hell doesn’t know many programmers or engineers!

The OP’s classification seems problematic, as does the rather ideological framing that Brainglutton quotes.

Desirous of work or unwilling is subjective and difficult to measure. One man’s subjectively unwilling maybe another’s legitimately unable.

The stratification based on ambition (or the entire set of rather dated and extremely subjective and ideological categories provided by Brainglutton) strikes me as leading to zero clarity overall, although either way the subjective definitions at least tell you what the other mate is thinking even if the parameters are bollocks.

I’d suggest that non-subjectively one could set a matrix by income level and possibly type of employment (relative stability and social rating, by some survey standard, to get beyond one professor’s subjectivity to benchmark against wider social perception).

For that, check out Social Stratification in the United States: The American Profile Poster, by Stephen J. Rose. It ignores the sociocultural aspects of class identity on which Fussell focuses, and simply lays out a clear graphic picture of who lies where in America in terms of income, assets, ethnic/racial group, and occupational category. This poster should hang on the wall of every social studies or American history classroom in every high school in America.

I see no reason for this suggestion other than to contaminate young minds with “victimhood”

The Jew and Asian minorities were marginalized and at the bottom of the income stratification. They didn’t need to stare at Stephen Rose’s poster everyday and yet they succeeded and moved up the income ladder. Why?

Therefore, what constructive use is this poster for?

It seems that ignorance of Stephen Roses’ poster is better for America.

:rolleyes: An educational use with respect the actual form and shape of American society, of course. We assume, and I hope you will agree, that teenagers should take social studies and American history in school; therefore, anything that will help them take away an accurate picture rather than a confused one of how-things-are is worth doing. What, if anything, they do with that knowledge is for them to decide. But how can plain facts be ideological propaganda?! (Telling the kids, plainly or subliminally (TV does a lot of the “subliminally”), that they are higher-placed in the socioeconomic hierarchy than they really are would be propaganda.)

Because it’s not just “plain facts”. It’s incomplete. Stephen Rose’s poster shows a snapshot of stratification but leaves out how the aggregation of consumer preferences leads to the stratification.

His poster encourages the average person to assume this inequality is driven from the “top down” and that the govt should do more and/or the wealthy should be taxed more etc and/or wealth is a zero-sum game. In reality, it is “bottom up” and people have to take responsibility for it.

The more interesting and accurate visual diagram is something that shows how the priority of preferences of human brains manifests itself as a social stratification. That type of picture would be more complete and would be more appropriate for the classroom.

Well, relative to this conversation the Amazon link is not terribly helpful insofar as I have no intention of ordering up on US Amazon such a thing for the dubious pleasure of a msg board conversation about the US (notably as I was not specific to America as such).

Class identity? My you are a marxist aren’t you? I am not for “ignoring” the social culture aspects of social class (never mind the dubious concept of ‘class identity’), but rather that the socio-culture not be simply asserted by some ad hoc and subjective standards, whether a professor of history is asserting them or a poster here. I rather think such things end up being pointless subjective tossing.

I have no idea with respect to this poster, but “plain facts” may be spun or presented in an ideological fashion such as to convey a subjective point. That’s nothing new at all, the expression Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics captures the idea - if somewhat abusively. Given your general ideological penchants…

:dubious: And how, exactly, does “the aggregation of consumer preferences” lead to stratification? And how would you represent that graphically?

I submit that my classification is more useful, as it does not, as far as I know, internalize any preconceived theories on the ideal nature of our society …

I certainly enjoyed the Fussell extracts, but I think his analysis is somewhat arbitrary, subjective and dated: going on about what makes a whole class of people 'ashamed" or what they tend to name their cats strikes me at least as gossipy and anecdotal.