Social Class in America Essay

This paper discusses how the film People Like Us: Social Class in America and the book Tenth Edition Society: The Basics differentiate and how they relate to one another other. The book J. M. 2009. Tenth Edition Society: The Basics, date cited October 27, 2009. and the film. (Producer),& Kolker A. (Director). (2001). People Like Us: social class in America (Documentary Film). United States: WETA Washington D. C. in association with Independent Television Series(ITS). distinguish how social class works.

They also discuss which people fall into particular classes in society.

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People in the film say who you grow up with, race, and how you treat people determines which class you fit into in society. It is a question to whether or not people can change what social class they are born into, too. The film also considers whether or not people who try and change their social status become judged by where they came from. The first part in film is called “Bud or Bordeaux.

”. (Producer),& Kolker A. (Director). (2001).

People Like Us: Social Class in America(Documentary Film). United States: WETA Washington D. C. in association with Independent Television Series(ITS). This segment discusses being able to determine one’s social class by the type of groceries they purchase, such as bread. The higher a family’s income is, the less white bread they will eat. A family of lower class won’t buy the expensive groceries or even the healthier kind. A bread expert in the film says that Wonder Bread is nothing but starch and water.

Then the film goes on to discuss the differences between low and middle class stores compared to upper class stores. Wal-mart is a low and middle class store because everything in the store can be readily identified whereas in an upper class store where the wealthier shop, the average person cannot easily identify everything in the store and where it is located. The upper class wanted to build a health food store, but the baby- boomers were against it. The baby-boomers were getting irate, saying it would be too expensive and even cursing.

They would rather go buy food from the corporations with less healthy food and cheaper prices because it would mean they were saving money instead of spending more. Utimately it didn’t seem to matter what they thought because the city council voted 12 to 2 to let the co-op health food store be built. The text says, “in the United States, wealth is an important source of power. The small proportion of families that control most of the country’s wealth also has the ability to shape the agenda of the entire society. ”(John J. Macionis, Chapter 8, 2009) [Alvarez, Kolker,2009].

If this is the case, that would explain why the baby-boomers’ opinions didn’t seem to matter to the city council and the rest of the public. Ginnie Sayles shows us how the upper class acts and outlines several tips regarding how to move up in social class. First she shows tips on how far to stand from someone in the higher class. She taught a lady named Vesse Rhinehart from the middle class how to dress and stand to fit in with the higher class. Rhinehart had a difficult time trying to fit in even with all the tips she was given.

This just allows us to believe that changing our social class may be more difficult that we may have thought. In the text it says upper-upper class, is sometimes called “blue bloods”, and includes less than 1 percent of the U. S. population. Membership is almost always the result of birth, as suggested by the old remark that the easiest way to become an upper-upper is to be born into one. (John J. Macionis, Chapter 8, 2009) [Alvarez, Kolker,2009]. The second part of the film is called “High and Low” this discusses high, middle and low class and provides examples of each.

The high class story shows a group called the W. A. S. P. (White Anglo Saxon Protestant). The W. A. S. P. is a group of individuals considered the upper-upper class. They only way to become a member of this group is to marry into it. Set apart by their wealth, upper-uppers live in exclusive neighborhoods. Their children typically attend private schools with others of similar background and complete formal education at high prestige colleges and universities (J. M. 2009 pg. 228). The next class they talk about is the middle class.

An African American family is interviewed who describe themselves as middle class because they can’t move up or down in society. They say being at the top represents money and being at the bottom is un-American. More and more blacks are becoming middle class. Two African American girls interviewed said they want better circumstances for themselves and their looking for their dream guy someone who attended a wealthy school. To assist in the process the people invented the Jack and Jill club. This club is intended to help those who feel stuck.

It will help them find their future spouse. Some are afraid it will teach children the wrong values, such as to be like other people to get into something. In the text it says, most average middle-class men and women are likely to be high school graduates, but the odds are just fifty-fifty that they will complete a college degree, usually at a less expensive, state-supported school (J. M. 2009 pg. 229). The next class they discuss is the lower class. They interview a woman named Tammy. Tammy is low class woman struggling to survive in society.

She works a minimum wage job at Burger King trying to support her family of four. The film also interviews one of her son’s who is embarrassed of his home. He is always critiquing his mother and how she lives her life. He also picks at his brothers a bit in the way they dress. Tammy says, she came from a family of 22 siblings. She has lived on welfare for 18 years and has no car or any license. She says, her son thinks he is better than her because he is ashamed of where he is from. She isn’t happy because of the way she is treated when she gets called names as she walks to work.

Tammy is just one example of the average low class American struggling to survive. Her goal was to go to school and become a school teacher. (Producer),& Kolker A. (Director). (2001). People like us: social class in America(Documentary Film). United States: WETA Washington D. C. in association with Independent Television Series(ITS). In the text it says, the remaining 20 percent of the population make up the lower class. Low income makes their lives insecure and difficult (J. M. 2009 pg. 229). The third part is called “Salt of the Earth”.

In this part the film discusses lawn ornaments, blue collar and what people think when someone from their class tries to become part of another class. Lawn ornaments are concrete figures used to decorate yards. A lady named Pat Gulden who runs a store that sells lawn ornaments says the people who over do their yards make themselves look cheap. She also says the blue collar people are her main customers because they always come back and buy more. Blue collar people are people who don’t dress in suit and tie all the time. They are your average working class citizen.

The book says, blue collar occupants are people who work lower prestige jobs that involve mostly manual labor (J. M. 2009 pg. 219). Bill Bear, a plumber is interviewed as blue collar. He gets offended when he goes to a restaurant or any business for that matter and people think he can’t pay his bill because of the way he dresses. (Producer),& Kolker A. (Director). (2001). People like us: social class in America(Documentary Film). In the text it says a century ago; most U. S. workers were in factories or on farms in blue-collar occupations, lower-prestige jobs that involve mostly manual labor.

Today most workers are in white-collar occupations, higher prestige jobs that involve mostly mental activity (J. M. 2009 pg. 219). The next interviewee the film interviews is Dana. She grew up in a small town with a family and a community that considered themselves middle class. Relating back the text as mentioned above it says, most average middle class men and women are likely to be high school graduates but the odds are just fifty-fifty that they will complete a college degree, usually at a less expensive, state-supported school (J.

M. 2009 pg. 229). It states that the average don’t move up in their class because their odds are fifty-fifty to whether they will complete a college degree. Well Dana is one of the few fifty-fifty who completed her college degree and moved up in class by moving to a city and wearing a suit to work. When she tells her story she has a nervous laugh when she talks. She is now a part of the white collar occupants. She is worried what her family and small town will think of her since she has moved up in class.

She doesn’t want them to think she is rejecting them when she got accepted to a high class school. The people of Dana’s community tell others not to forget where you came from and who you are. It will always follow you. (Producer),& Kolker A. (Director). (2001). People like us: social class in America(Documentary Film). The last part is called “Belonging”. It discusses belonging and relates experiences to high school life and teenager lifestyles. The film (People Like Us: Social Class in America) visits Anderson’s High where they interview different cliques.

Depending on what social class you’re in determines what crowd you’ll belong to or which clique you will hang-out with. Cliques force teenagers to fit in. The upper class teenagers have the more opportunities. Their parents supply them with cars, accessories, and often times gas. It is stated in (J. M. 2009 pg. 227) that the people who graduate these high schools and go onto college are the people who are higher in class. In conclusion, the film (People Like Us: Social Class In America) and the text (Society: The Basics) coincide with each other.

The film and the text both have very important key points although the film gives us a visual of the context. The film draws a picture of how society really is even though it isn’t often fair the ones who are in the lower classes; it is what it is. References Alvarez L. (Producer),& Kolker A. (Director). (2001). People like us: social class in American(Documentary Film). United States: WETA Washington D. C. in association with Independent Television Series(ITS). Date cited October 27, 2009 J. M. 2009. Tenth edition society the basics, Date cited October 27, 2009

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