Middle-class people work hard and live fairly comfortable lives. The most significant threat to the relatively high standard of living we’re accustomed to in the United States is the decline of the middle class. Dropping out of school, losing a job, or getting a divorce may result in a loss of income or status and, therefore, downward social mobility. Women who are single heads of household tend to have a lower income and lower standard of living than their married or male counterparts. Class traits, also called class markers, are the typical behaviors, customs, and … In the United States, people applaud the rags-to-riches achievements of celebrities like Jennifer Lopez or Michael Jordan. Still, upward mobility is not only about becoming rich and famous. Class traits also indicate the amount of resources a person has to spend on items like hobbies, vacations, and leisure activities. For speaking out so strongly about the social issues of class, authors were both praised and criticized. Moreover, just as class distinctions have blurred in recent decades, so too have class traits. A married couple with children will have a hard time covering expenses. In 1965, more than 500,000 individuals received food assistance. Soon, middle-class readers were not their only audience. They haven’t gone to the most exclusive schools. They are studied as existing sources because they detail the customs and mores of the upper, middle, and lower classes of that period in history. Others, such as Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, capitalize on being a rich socialite and transform that into celebrity status, flaunting a wealthy lifestyle. Do you believe in the American Dream? “Wage and Hour Division: Minimum Wage Laws in the States—September 1, 2014.” Retrieved January 10, 2012 (http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/america.htm). Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. While several economic factors can be improved in the United States (inequitable distribution of income and wealth, feminization of poverty, stagnant wages for most workers while executive pay and profits soar, declining middle class), we are fortunate that the poverty experienced here is most often relative poverty and not absolute poverty. His successor Lyndon B. Johnson was instrumental in the passage of the Food Stamp Act in 1964. People of old money, firmly situated in the upper class for generations, have held high prestige. Is there any way to tell if this young man comes from an upper-, middle-, or lower-class background? Compared to the lower middle class, lower-class people have less of an educational background and earn smaller incomes. For example, an upper-class executive may have parents who belonged to the middle class. 8 IN THE UNITED STATES. These unequal rewards are evident not only in the distribution of wealth and income, but even in the distressing mortality rates of impoverished communities. Moreover, just as class distinctions have blurred in recent decades, so too have class traits. They are studied as existing sources because they detail the customs and mores of the upper, middle, and lower classes of that period in history. At the other end of the scale, some of the lowest rankings apply to positions like waitress, janitor, and bus driver. People with annual incomes of $150,000 call themselves middle class, as do people who annually earn $30,000. (Photo courtesy of United Way Canada-Centraide Canada/flickr), This man is a custodian at a restaurant. This is known as intergenerational mobility. Many are unemployed or underemployed. 8.1 . While these descriptions may identify class traits, they may also simply be stereotypes. 2008. In most cases, having more money means having more power or more opportunities. They fill technical, lower-level management or administrative support positions. Some are illiterate, unable to read job ads. Our mission is to improve educational access and learning for everyone. “Wealth, Income, and Power.” Retrieved December 22, 2014 (http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html). They protested the suffering of urbanization and industrialization, drawing attention to these issues. Like the working class, they have unskilled, low-paying employment. Social Stratification and Mobility in the United States. The size, income, and wealth of the middle class have all been declining since the 1970s. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Bailey/flickr). Does a person’s appearance indicate class? The best-known of these programs is likely the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture. But by that distinction, annual household incomes for the middle class range between $25,000 and $100,000 (Mason and Sullivan 2010). For sociologists, categorizing class is a fluid science. Teachers and police officers are generally respected, though not considered particularly prestigious. One economist, J.D. Some study business or become lawyers in order to manage the family fortune. Wealthy people also wield decision-making power. Their children receive high-quality education and healthcare (Gilbert 2010). People may associate the upper class with enjoyment of costly, refined, or highly cultivated tastes—expensive clothing, luxury cars, high-end fund-raisers, and opulent vacations. While both types may have equal net worth, they have traditionally held different social standings. The underclass is the United States’ lowest tier. MasonD3. Often, the very wealthy don’t work for wages. A factory worker could be a skilled French cook. The middle class doesn’t generally control other strata of society, but its members do exert control over their own lives. Class traits, also called class markers, are the typical behaviors, customs, and norms that define each class. Beneath the working class is the working poor. Start studying Chapter 8: Stratification and Social Mobility in the United States. However, their jobs rarely offer benefits such as healthcare or retirement planning, and their positions are often seasonal or temporary. For sociologists, categorizing class is a fluid science. Wealth is the most significant way of distinguishing classes, because wealth can be transferred to one’s children and perpetuate the class structure. Class traits, also called class markers, are the typical behaviors, customs, and norms that define each class. Like the working class, they have unskilled, low-paying employment. Bestselling author Stephen King worked as a janitor prior to being published. They haven’t gone to the most exclusive schools. Whereas absolute poverty is deprivation so severe that it puts survival in jeopardy, relative poverty is not having the means to live the lifestyle of the average person in your country. Even working full-time, millions of the working poor earn incomes too meager to support a family. Describe the three dimensions of social stratification. The upper class is considered the top, and only the powerful elite get to see the view from there. In the United States, people applaud the rags-to-riches achievements of celebrities like Jennifer Lopez or Michael Jordan. They provide their families with large homes and nice cars. Class systems such as in the United States are thought to be open, meaning that social mobility is relatively high. They have not established old-money social ties. That comes to $16,640 a year, before tax and deductions. Class in Turn-of-the-Century Novels of Gissing, James, Hardy and Wells. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Their children receive high-quality education and healthcare (Gilbert 2010). They run the major network television stations, radio broadcasts, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, and sports franchises. Scholars recognize that mobility is not as common or easy to achieve as many people think. We recommend using a Some study business or become lawyers in order to manage the family fortune. Geology Final 64 terms. In the first half of the twentieth century, industrialization expanded the U.S. economy, raising the standard of living and leading to upward structural mobility. The accompanying web site is full of information, interactive games, and life stories from those who participated.