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Maciamo
Mar 19, 2005, 23:19
It is a fact that any modern society is composed of people of more or less financal means, more or less educated, more or less cultivated, all sharing a variety of different interests, doing different jobs and dressing differently.

Contrarily to the belief of people who come from non-class-conscious societies (like Japan or maybe also the US), classes exist everywhere and are not defined only by money. I'd say that for British (or even French) people, classes are determined more by one's education (in the broad sense of the term, including manners, culture, etc.), hobbies, interests and way of dressing or speaking than by money. The main reason is that one;s financial situation can evolve with time (and usually does), while the way of thinking doesn't.

To simplify the task, I will briefly explain who is usually associated with each of the 4 main social classes : upper, upper-middle, middle and lower.

Many European countries still have a nobility system (even republics like France, Italy or Germany), so that nobility alone can increase one's social class just from birth. Let's say that most nobles do care to give their children an education suitable to their social class, otherwise it would be very possible for a noble to be considered lower class (many people of lower nobility are indeed middle or upper-middle class).

Some occupation are also often asscoiated with the upper-classes, such as president, minister, ambassador, governor, big company CEO, or to some extend also university professor. Prestige, be it by the (nobility) title or function usually qualifies for upper-class when combined with fortune and decent manners.

The upper-middle classes are sometimes called the "professional class", as most doctors, lawyers, bankers, accountants or managers belong to this class. Some call them the "chattering classes", because they are mostly intellectuals and like discussing anything from the latest cultural events to politics or the economy. Another word is "bourgeois", although often seen as negative and associated with materialsitic values (interestingly, in Japanese bourgeois as a positive connotation, but so does naive :p ).

The middle classes are most people with an ordinary job - usually not career ones, or with little chance of reaching high managerial positions. The largest part of the people are probably to be found here, from secretaries and office clerks to police officers, shop attendants or company staff.

The lower classes, more commonly known as "working classes", are most of the people with manual jobs, especially factory workers and builders.

Some people are difficult to classify. A priest/pastor would probably be (upper-)middle class because of their good education. A plumber or carpenter would be lower or middle class as non-intellectual, regardless how much money they make.

But it's important to remember that education, behaviour and interests are the most decisive factors, and that a doctor who swears, dresses like a homeless and is more interested in watching football at the local pub with a few beers and loud laughs, will be considered as lower-class, no matter how intelligent, educated or rich he may be.

More often it is one's personality and one's parent's socio-economic background that defines a person's way of thinking and class. It is easy to differentiate social classes even among 6-year old children. And it rarely changes considerably after that. As a result, it sometimes (often?) happens that even first cousins are in different social classes. That also occurs from parents to children. Add to that the many cases where the parents are not from the same social background (but often, there isn't a world of difference, as they would probably not come to like each others).

Let me give a few example of very rich and famous people and their social class, just to show how unrelated class is to money.

David & Victoria Beckham => working class
The Beatles => working class
Hugh Grant, Colin Firth... => upper-class or upper-middle class

In the US, it is sometimes difficult to asssess, as some people that should be classified as upper-class sometimes behave like lower or middle class. The best example is G.W. Bush. In contrast John Kerry would be upper-class, and John Edwards would be upper-middle class even coming from a working class family.

Jennifer Lopez => working class
Julia Roberts => middle class
Gwyneth Paltrow => upper-middle or upper class

So what do you think is your social class ?

lexico
Mar 20, 2005, 05:14
Two options obviously missing are 0) Royalty and 5) Slave & Outcast. That doesn't give me a choice, so I'm working class ! Damn it, and I have a bad mouth, too !
I'd say that for British (or even French) people, classes are determined more by one's education (in the broad sense of the term, including manners, culture, etc.), hobbies, interests and way of dressing or speaking than by money. The main reason is that one;s financial situation can evolve with time (and usually does), while the way of thinking doesn't.I can't say anything about the British or the French, but I would say this is hard to generalize. Materialist philosophy states that the material condition of living determines the culture; the substructure determnines the superstructure. If I should follow your model, eventhough the substructure changes, the superstructure doesn't change. For instance, Puyi, the emperor of the late Qing dynasty was deprived of everything he had and became a proletariat, of the lower class. Of course one could argue that it was his re-education that did it, nevertheless, he literally lost all material possessions which caused his drastic fall from royalty to the lower class.
"bourgeois", although often seen as negative and associated with materialsitic values (interestingly, in Japanese bourgeois as a positive connotation, but so does naive)What should be so wrong with being a bourgeois ? The financially independent city dwellers, with enough money for the guns and ammo, were the catalysts and engine for social change from medieval monarchy-aristocracy to a more equal democracy. The wealth to purchase guns were primarily resonsible for the fall of the feudal system because the knight's armory were now easily penetrable. In that sense, the Japanese are quite alright in viewing the bourgeois as a positive thing. And what's wrong with being naiive ? Do you actually believe that people who are quiet, cooperative, meek, and trusting are in reality stupid or lacking the intelligence to think on their own ? Do you seriously think that the opposite who are full of suspicion, doubt, and sarcasm are necessarily more educated, better mannered, productive, responsible, and intelligent ?

Anyway I agree with your general idea that it is the action and mode of thinking that determines the person's value. For example the kind of restraint, caution, and tolerance that this forum excercises should be some prime examples of noble existence. I believe that was what your were trying to say with this thread.

Maciamo
Mar 20, 2005, 10:32
Two options obviously missing are 0) Royalty and 5) Slave & Outcast.

Royalty is upper-class (not higher). Outcast is about cats, not class. Slavery is not related to class, as anybody can/could become a slave regardless of their previous social status (ever seen the movie Gladiator?).

And you are not working class. You way of thinking and wide range of intellectual interest makes you upper-middle class (as I said it is not realted to money). I just don't know how you dress and behave in society. :p

misa.j
Mar 21, 2005, 11:34
A plumber or carpenter would be lower or middle class as non-intellectual, regardless how much money they make.
I think plumbers or carpenters can be intellectual, since they have to know what they are doing. There is a plumber who is also a judge in my town.

I've heard that in Norway, to become a house painter you would need a University degree.

quiet sunshine
Mar 21, 2005, 11:48
I never care about that and had no idea before, but recent years I did have some feeling. According to your definition I should belong to the middle class but I feel my status is even lower than working class.
Upon the Chinese standard, I think I'm far far below the middle class.

Mal
Mar 21, 2005, 11:50
I think plumbers or carpenters can be intellectual, since they have to know what they are doing. There is a plumber who is also a judge in my town.


This is quite an American view actually. We have almost a pathological aversion to intellectualism unless it is couched behind a "folksy" veneer. The flip side of this is that its quite easy for us to accept someone as an intellectual despite whatever their day job might be.

There are basically 5 classes in America that I can put my finger on.

1) The Poor
2) Working Class
3) Middle Class
4) New Money
5) Old Money

The strangest thing is that many people identify themselves as belonging to the "middle class" regardless of how much money they make or what level of education they posses. For instance, a dual income working family that makes over 100k a year doing a job that requires a highschool education will consider themselves middle class. Inversely someone with a college degree who makes 35k a year will also consider themselves "middle class".

Very few people will identify themselves as working class or poor - even though they quite possibly are. It's really quite a contradictory system. Also the distinctions between new and old money are for the most part completely irrelevant for anyone except for people who exist in those classes.

Sometimes people put qualifications on the class here, such as "lower middle class" or "upper middle class". This also is highly subjective. A family that makes a definite middle class wage, but is lacking in education may be termed "lower middle class" while a family that makes the same wage but has college degrees may see themselves as "upper middle class".

Also oddly enough, many families that are acqually quite rich (making 10x or more of median income) will identify themselves as "middle class" or "upper middle class". I think this may have something to do with the WASPy American aversion to flaunting wealth.

It's very hard to determine class in the States, but I do feel that mostly society is stratified along socio-economic grounds.

misa.j
Mar 21, 2005, 12:21
The flip side of this is that its quite easy for us to accept someone as an intellectual despite whatever their day job might be.
Exactly.
Like great artists can be poor but have the deepest knowlege and skills that is earned by their intellect.

Maciamo
Mar 21, 2005, 12:32
I think plumbers or carpenters can be intellectual, since they have to know what they are doing.

I guess that anybody who has a job knows what the are doing, or they would be fired or lose customers. "Intellectual" means someone interested in academic subjects, like history, psychology, medicine, law, (theoretical) sciences, etc. It usually involved to be cultivated (i.e. being refined and well-educated, especially regaring the fine arts, history, geography, politics, etc.)


There is a plumber who is also a judge in my town.

Doesn't a judge need to be a specialised LLM (Master of Laws) in the US ? Well in Europe I think it's impossible for anybody who hasn't graduated in law to become a judge, and unlikely for someone who has not studied plumbery to become a plumber.


I've heard that in Norway, to become a house painter you would need a University degree.

Maybe not "university" but higher education diploma. And it is normal in most of North-Western Europe. I heard that in Spain anybody could become a real-estate agent without qualifications, while in France, the Benelux, etc. that is impossible. Even to own a restaurant or a hotel, people need to graduate in catering (3 years, I think) in most Western European countries. And even with a further education degree, these people are not called "intellectuals" (except if they are, but then are unlikely to choose this kind of orientation).


Exactly.
Like great artists can be poor but have the deepest knowlege and skills that is earned by their intellect.

I wouldn't consider most artists (except some writers) to be intellectuals, not matter how good they are at their art. But that's just my opinion. Intellectualism requires reasoning (left-brain), while artists need creativity(right-brain). Of course, it is possible to be both an artist and an intellectual. But one does not usually include the other. :p

Maciamo
Mar 21, 2005, 12:48
1) The Poor
2) Working Class
3) Middle Class
4) New Money
5) Old Money

This is not the kind of social classes I am referring to. In Briain social classes are not related to money, so the Poor, New Money and Old Money could really be anywhere on the scale. Many upper-class nobles are poor or not very rich nowadays. But many people calling themselves working class are dirty rich (including most of the famous pop/rock singers, football players, etc.)


The strangest thing is that many people identify themselves as belonging to the "middle class" regardless of how much money they make or what level of education they posses.

It doesn't matter as money is not related to class. But this tendency of American and Japanese people to think of themselves as "middle class" reflects the fact that they don't really care about classes. In the UK, it would be easy to divide the society in about 10 classes, but I chose just 4 so as not to confuse people who are not used to think about classes.

Another important thing is that it doesn't really matter which class one think they belong to. Classes have such well-established criteria that it is almost impossible for someone to hide their class (just by the way they dress, walk, talk, emotionally react, their topic of discussion, family background, etc.). That's why I can actually say, this or that person belongs to this or that class, even if I have never met them, and regardless of their income or what they think.

For example, the typical working class people have bad tastes for dressing* don't like intellectual discussions, listen to dance, rap or hip-hop music, might like low-brow TV series, hang out in pubs, watch and talk a lot about football (=soccer), are little concerned about what's happening around the world (rarely watch the international news), gossip about celebrities, etc.

Upper-middle class people tend to be well-spoken, well-mannered, dress more conservatively, listen to classical music or jazz, go to the theatre, art exhibitions or museums, discuss novelties in sciences, literature, politics, read a lot of non-fiction books, prefer cultural holidays (sightseeing) than beach or wild party holidays, play tennis or golf, etc.

Upper class people are similar to upper-middle class, except that they usually have (political) power, a lot of money or influence, probably a high-rank hereditary nobility title, a castle with vast expands of land, and tend to be more unconventional than the upper-middle classes regarding the way they speak or behave. A common joke in the UK is to say that only the upper classes and the lower classes would go in slipper and night-gown in the street to buy their newspaper.

Avtually even the food one eats and the place where one lives (standing of the area, regardless of the size of on'e house) can determine the social class. The upper-middle and upper-classes tend to prefer French food, while the middle and lower class might eat more fast-food, fish'n chips, burgers, burgers, etc. Of course, eating French food regularily doesn't make someone upper-class, and eating junk food doesn't necessarily make one lower class either.

* eg. Chavs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chavs) in England, a form of lower-class, do wear brands but so tastelessly (Burberry shirts with jeans, gold rings and Nike shoes) that they can only be lower-class.

Mal
Mar 21, 2005, 13:55
This is not the kind of social classes I am referring to. In Briain social classes are not related to money, so the Poor, New Money and Old Money could really be anywhere on the scale. Many upper-class nobles are poor or not very rich nowadays. But many people calling themselves working class are dirty rich (including most of the famous pop/rock singers, football players, etc.)


This is the thing though, in America social class is largely dictated by money. Why do you think we coined the phrase, "He was a scoundrel and a gentleman?"

In order to understand this you have to understand the entemology of the word "gentleman" in American English. Originally it didn't refer to a person specific mannerisms, but to the fact that they were landed. They owned property. Hence it was entirely possible for someone to be both a "scoundrel" and a "gentleman".

This additude as pretty much carried over into modern times. For instance, the skank-tastic ***** of the universe - Paris Hilton. Heiress to an enormous Hotel empire that bears her family name. She is definately considered upper-class by most Americans regardless of the fact that she is for the large part uneducated, uncultured and generally uncouth.

And its not that Americans are not aware of class, we just qualify it differently than Europeans do. Yes, here it is all about the money. You may disagree with it being a "class system" based on your Euro-centric view of what constitutes class, but you can't really deny that in America it is what constitutes our class system (or relative class system).

Also, when you talk about Chavs or Yobs... one of the most amusing things about American culture is that people who are from higher classes often affect the mannerisms and tastes of people who are from the lower classes. Its very common here for an established middle or upper class family to have offspring that affect the mannerisms and dress of a poor or working class urban american. Infact, its so common that no one even bats an eye at it anymore. Sometimes it can really be quite bewildering how fast things change over here since such behavior was definately not acceptable even a mere couple decades ago.

TheKansaiKid
Mar 21, 2005, 15:15
think the notion of class has not had the required time to separate as clearly here as perhaps elsewhere. Most Americans can trace their roots to immigrants from the last 300 years. Someone considered "upperclass" is unlikely to immigrate to another place looking to improve their lot in life, so essentially all Americans come from a place in society that might be considered "low". The stratification of this society started quickly and the difference in education opportunity for the "haves" and "have nots" are only one indicator of a move towards classes here in the USA. That being said in actual life there are an infinite number of classes in every society with each class feeling superior or inferior depending on their economic or social position.
When my daughter (who is way too young to have a boyfreind) came home and said "Billy asked me to be his girlfriend" I was shocked not because she is too young (the reason I should have been shocked) but because I knew Billy's Father and always felt like he was not in the same class as I was. That sounds horrible and when I realized what was making me feel that way I tried to push it out of my mind, but I think it shows that the human race has an innate tendency to class everything and everyone. I think it is an unhealthy attitude, and I am doing my best not to pass it on to my children, because it is this attitude that can also lead to many forms of discrimination (be it racially or otherwise motivated) As it stands now I accept that she thinks Billy is "so it" whatever that means. Man, I hate getting old.

Maciamo
Mar 21, 2005, 22:55
Most Americans can trace their roots to immigrants from the last 300 years. Someone considered "upperclass" is unlikely to immigrate to another place looking to improve their lot in life, so essentially all Americans come from a place in society that might be considered "low".

That's a good point. But many have had to time to become very rich, well-educated, powerful or influencial... or even poorer, stupider and more violent. I'd say the gap between the top and bottom is bigger in the US than anywhere in Europe (and the UK already has teh biggest gap within Europe).


...but I think it shows that the human race has an innate tendency to class everything and everyone. I think it is an unhealthy attitude, and I am doing my best not to pass it on to my children, because it is this attitude that can also lead to many forms of discrimination (be it racially or otherwise motivated).

I don't think that being class-conscious is unhealthy at all. It helps organise the society and group people who think similarily (as it's what it's all about, and not just money) together. Maybe that is because Americans try to hard to repress these 'natural human tendencies' that violence is so widespread. Look at the UK or India, both of which are very class-conscious and have huge gaps between the top and bottom; both are incredibly safe societies considering their socio-economic, class-cultural and ethnic diversity.

Mal
Mar 22, 2005, 00:06
I don't think that being class-conscious is unhealthy at all. It helps organise the society and group people who think similarily (as it's what it's all about, and not just money) together. Maybe that is because Americans try to hard to repress these 'natural human tendencies' that violence is so widespread. Look at the UK or India, both of which are very class-conscious and have huge gaps between the top and bottom; both are incredibly safe societies considering their socio-economic, class-cultural and ethnic diversity.


I can say without a reservation that class has both little and almost everything to do with American violence. However, not in the way that you seem to posit. If we can accept my asertation that "class" in America is based mostly on socio-economic factors, then its pretty obvious what "class" commits the greatest degree of violence. This has always been the "lower class" in our society, regardless of what ethnicity has mainly held that distinction.

Currently the lower economic rungs in this country are held by African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans, in the past this was held by groups such as German-Americans and Irish-Americans. During both relative periods the general consensus in the country that was that these people were commiting the majority of the crime. As earlier generations of citizens acquired wealth and the subsequent status that went along with this, they rose through the "class system" and their now vacant rungs have been occupied by later generations of immigrants.

You can see this enacted pretty much daily where I live (The SF Bay area, one of the most multicultural places on the face of the earth). There is a divide in this nation that is focused pretty heavily on wealth and the privelege that goes with it (higher education, more home stability, safer neighborhoods, etc). If you get a bunch of middle class Whites, Blacks, Latinos and Asians together in Golden Gate park, chances are they are going to throw the frisbee around, talk about their mutual funds, retirement accounts and how little Suzie is doing a piano recital next month. Put the same racial mix of people in the same situation, but make sure they are all dirt poor and its almost inevitable that violence will break out in one form or another.

The telling part is that when you examine the first group of people who are getting along with each other, they can have pretty much nothing in common other than their average earned income. I know many people here in the Bay Area that make incredibly comfortable livings who have never even finished college, people who have never left the area, people who have left the area (and came back), people born from other countries, different religions, traditions, you name it. They all get along. They may not harbor any specific love for each other (especially if their old ties to animosity run deep), but generally speaking everyone starts off atleast neutral.

The same thing cannot be said for the people on the lower income rungs, and frankly this has become a topic of much debate amongst sociologists and public figures in our nation. Due to the sensitive nature of the issue, its not often discussed on most public media, but still if you listen to more intellectual radio or television you can quite readily see that some of the greatest (and sometimes not so great!) minds of our nation are trying to identify exactly root of this problem is. Practically the only thing they can agree on is that there seems to be some magical watermark of success, that once you achieve it you become fully invested in American society. Invested to the point where ones desire to commit to anti-social behavior is outweighed by a more powerful desire to improve ones lot in life via socially acceptable ways.

Pretty much they are just re-iterating what we as a country have known forever. That is - if you believe that you have the capacity to raise your lot in life, then you are less likely to commit a crime and jeopardize that future. Really this belief in what people call the "American Dream" is the glue that holds our massively multi-ethnic society together.

This is the conundrum of a Meritocracy as well as a Democracy. Let me explain:

Both systems require a simple belief for them to function - Namely you have to believe that the system works. If everyone believes that Democracy works, then it does. Once people stop beliving in the system, they can no longer trust it, so they cannot participate. When people stop participating in the Democracy, it falls apart at a rapidly increasing rate as voices go silenced and entrenched power drives the agenda of the nation. The same can be said for the Meritocracy. So long as everyone actually believes that we have a Meritocracy - it works! If hard work and dilligence pays off, then the obvious conclusion for most people is to work hard and be dilligent! It's my belief that we are seeing a decline in the belief of the Meritocracy in the lower classes of society. They feel that the system does not actually reward merit, but instead favors those with "privelege" or "money" or the right "social connections", or even the right "race". Once you believe the system no longer works, you must take stock of your situation. Here you are at the bottom of society, there is no way for you to escape the bottom rungs (or so you believe!) so at that point what reason is there to even participate in society. This kind of thinking leads straight to being alienated from society and almost definately into a life of crime.

I think this is a fundemental thing that people from other nations do not understand about the United States and how it colours our view of the world and our reaction to threats. Our entire nation is built upon the premise of self involment, or investing yourself into succeeding. People always like to talk about American individualism, but they fail to see that a nation of people with strong individualistic tendancys is exactly what it takes to hold together such a diverse group. I'll try to explain it this way -

The US runs what is nominally refered to as a Meritocracy. That is people will rise up as far as they can based on their own natural abilities. This assumes that most people will want to push themselves to such places naturally. Obviously this is not the case for all man-kind. Not everyone is prepared to struggle just to rise to the top, correct? Btw - say that to most Americans and they will assume you are some sort of communist just for stating the fact that not everyone wants to be wildly successful at wealth acumulation. :-) Anyway, in such a system there will always be loser and winners. The problem is that the way it is set up right now, the situtation can look very hopeless for the people who are the "losers". Historically to combat this we have always had fairly low bars so that people who were only "marginally" successful could compete with the truley driven individualistic citizens. However we now find ourself at a bad spot: our poverty rate is too high, there are not enough social programs around to help people turn their fortunes around and there is an overwelming disaporia that is spreading out from concentrated areas of poverty that is spreading violence and crime in its wake. Combine this with increasingly demanding levels of education and skill sets in order to compete in our high technology industries and you have a pretty lethal cocktail.

Quite frankly, America is definately not for everyone. However its our national challenge to figure out a way to make it so that it is. My personal belief is that the best way to combat that malaise that is eating away at our cities is to make sure that everyone has access to the best educational insitutions in the land as well as attempting to lower the poverty rate in this country to below double digits. Hell, in a perfect world we need to get it down to 0%, don't you think?

Anyway, this is why America sometimes elects leaders who seem extremely conservative by European standards (hell, even our elected liberals are fairly conservative). They are quite literally straddling a ticking time bomb between American-style no-holds-barred free-market capitalism, and American-style do-it-yourself-democracy. The two can co-exist peacefully (they have for many decades!) The reason why you guy see so many free-trade marketeers comming out of our country is because there is a political line of thinking that if you can make the country wealthy enough that you can expand the middle class, lower the poverty rate, and give people more opportunity. Now people can disagree on if this is actually happening or not, but this quite frankly is the course of action our leaders are trying to embark on. Essentially they are trying to acomplish the same level of European income re-distribution, but doing it by increaseing the overall income of the nation instead of through social programs. Very Maverick of course, and totally American. My personal belief is that they wont be able to ride that tiger all the way to the finish line, but I do have to admit that in essence they are attempting to do the right thing by their citizenship.

Confusing I suppose... but what isn't these days.

Maciamo
Mar 22, 2005, 16:11
Thanks for this very insightful explanation on the "American way", Mal.

You start your argument by saying that the lower classes are the cause of most of the crimes. I think what you mean is just "poor people", regardless of their way of thinking (eg. class-related way fo thinking). Do you think for example that a well-educated person who has lost everything and become one of the Poor would be likely to cause troubles in your example of the park ?

Anyhow, why call economic differences "classes" if you can just define them as the poor, the less poor, the moderately rich and the very rich ? The idea linked to classes is a way of thinking that one acquires in their childhoos and keeps for life. The Beatles were lower class, and insited that they still were even after becoming rich and famous. The point is that they won't change their family, hobbies or way of speaking just because they have become richer (some do, but only because they want to change class, turn their back on their past, on their family and friends and become a new individual - but these are exceptions). That is why it is also possible in Britain to be a scoundrel and a gentleman. Any man born and raised in an upper-class family is a gentleman, but that does not prevent them from committing crimes (why did Lord Archer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Archer) end up in prison ?).

British people like clubs, because that's a good way of like-minded people, and that is certainly related to classes too. I think that people find it easier to socialise with people of a similar education and sharing similar hobbies than just people sharing a similar income. As you said, the people with good jobs in the park get along, but share little in common. Class in about sharing something in common. If we want to enter stereotypes, we could say that lower and middle class people like football (soccer) and soap operas, while the upper-middle and upper classes like tennis and go to classical music concerts. That's a bit too general, but a gives an idea of the differences. Rich people also watch football and soap operas, and poor people also play tennis and listen the classical music. If a certain number of criteria are met (dress code, manners, education, family background, hobbies, interests, job, money, pronuciation, formality of language, style, morals, personality, etc.) one can be said to belong more to one particular class than any others.

I think it could be difficult to assess what would be your exact class in Britain if you are used to think of class as money related. I think "formality" (of speech, clothing, tastes, style, etc.) is a good way of estimating one's class, the more formal, the higher the class, although the real upper class can be quite unconventional in their formality (quite a few eccentrics).

Kama
Mar 23, 2005, 03:42
I signed for upper-middle clas..

I do not agree with everything Maciamo said. Manners (etc) AND money are eqaully important.

if you have money and no manners you are only nouveau riche and that's not a good thing. :D Being a bourgoise is also a bad thing. :D

I can't imagine society without classes or other kind of hierarchy. It just can't exist. And yes, I do feel there is a difference in social status. I really hate "Titanic". The main heroine shouldn't make a misalliance. Even if they only had a good name in the end... :blush:

Mal
Mar 23, 2005, 08:11
Thanks for this very insightful explanation on the "American way", Mal.

You start your argument by saying that the lower classes are the cause of most of the crimes. I think what you mean is just "poor people", regardless of their way of thinking (eg. class-related way fo thinking). Do you think for example that a well-educated person who has lost everything and become one of the Poor would be likely to cause troubles in your example of the park ?


Well, you have to also realize that people self-identify in America. There is basically no formality, or way that someone can accurately judge where you are in society based on your manners or dress (or possessions). Flaunting wealth outside of your economic range is considered taboo. A conversation between say two middle class people will almost always touch upon economics or possession of wealth in some way, the same conversation between a middle class and a working class person is much more likely to revolve around popular culture, with any subjects relating to money being fastidiously avoided. People tend to segregate themselves into strata where they think that they belong. I think this has the general affect of people estimating that their position in life is better than it really is (Why is the middle class in a society always much larger in a poll than what statistics would indicate?). Also people who are well educated and then find themselves down on their luck are no more immune to the tempations of crime or drugs based simply on education - if that was true then crime and drug rates would be going down in this country as people increasingly become more educated. Most people here agree that the economy plays the biggest role in determining crime rate. When people are doing well - there is less crime, when they are doing poorly - there is more. Look at Japan for instance, a 15 year recession and increasing crime rates. The same thing happened here in the US but in the reverse, during the 90's we had a huge economic boom and crime dropped all across the nation. Hence I stand by my assessment that economic factors contribute more overall to crime and violence than most other things.



Anyhow, why call economic differences "classes" if you can just define them as the poor, the less poor, the moderately rich and the very rich ? The idea linked to classes is a way of thinking that one acquires in their childhoos and keeps for life.


We call them this because this is the system we have. The way the system works in society is almost analagous to what you know, atleast in terms of function. However the rules here are completely different. Still, it takes up the same place in society here as it does abroad. Think of it this way: Similar function in society, but with different rules. If you deny this to be true, then it would seem that America doesn't actually have a "class" system at all - which I think if you stayed here any particular amount of time, you would see is not true (No society is that advanced yet anyway).



The Beatles were lower class, and insited that they still were even after becoming rich and famous. The point is that they won't change their family, hobbies or way of speaking just because they have become richer (some do, but only because they want to change class, turn their back on their past, on their family and friends and become a new individual - but these are exceptions). That is why it is also possible in Britain to be a scoundrel and a gentleman. Any man born and raised in an upper-class family is a gentleman, but that does not prevent them from committing crimes (why did Lord Archer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Archer) end up in prison ?).


I'm not sure where you are going with this - we're talking USA not Britain. People in the USA do quite frequently turn their backs on their family history if its advantageous for them. Parents will often pass down "values" to their children, but here in the states that most commonly refers to religious values. Why do you think we are such a religious country? Even people who are not religious (or identify themselves as not belonging to a specific institution) often parrot religious views to their children. Almost always in this country people will judge you on the following: Wealth, Religious Piety, Education. Usually in that order. Generally the second two are only even worthy of mention when dealing with people of the same social-economic background as yourself. (A wealthy businessman usually has little, or no respect for say, a lower income College Professor, regardless if the professor has better manners and education than he does - although it is doubtful he will act so in public, any acknowledgement of class in our society is taboo).



British people like clubs, because that's a good way of like-minded people, and that is certainly related to classes too. I think that people find it easier to socialise with people of a similar education and sharing similar hobbies than just people sharing a similar income. As you said, the people with good jobs in the park get along, but share little in common. Class in about sharing something in common. If we want to enter stereotypes, we could say that lower and middle class people like football (soccer) and soap operas, while the upper-middle and upper classes like tennis and go to classical music concerts. That's a bit too general, but a gives an idea of the differences. Rich people also watch football and soap operas, and poor people also play tennis and listen the classical music. If a certain number of criteria are met (dress code, manners, education, family background, hobbies, interests, job, money, pronuciation, formality of language, style, morals, personality, etc.) one can be said to belong more to one particular class than any others.


Ok, here is another thing that people often get wrong about America. Our culture revolves around consumerism - everyone across the world seems to know this, but they don't understand how profound it is. Status in the eyes of your peers revolves around how much you can accumulate as well as what sort of acoutrements that people have. Dress, manners, education, interests, etc are far less cared about than for instance, what kind of car you drive, or if you own a home, or where that home is. Why do you think the SUV is so popular here, especially by wealthy urban or suburban people who quite frankly have no use for them >< It's a social status symbol - and its tied directly to wealth.

Obviously there are people who don't buy into this system, but they should be considered not the norm.



I think it could be difficult to assess what would be your exact class in Britain if you are used to think of class as money related. I think "formality" (of speech, clothing, tastes, style, etc.) is a good way of estimating one's class, the more formal, the higher the class, although the real upper class can be quite unconventional in their formality (quite a few eccentrics).

Of course you think this way, you are an European :-) And I agree with you, in Europe those things matter a great deal. In the United States - not so much.

Maciamo
Mar 23, 2005, 09:23
Thanks again for this explanation, Mal.


Dress, manners, education, interests, etc are far less cared about than for instance, what kind of car you drive, or if you own a home, or where that home is. Why do you think the SUV is so popular here, especially by wealthy urban or suburban people who quite frankly have no use for them >< It's a social status symbol - and its tied directly to wealth.


So what if you are rich and don't want to show it ? Does that make you of a lower social status. What of a millionaire that doesn't have a car, dress very normally and doesn't even have a job as he doesn't need it ? This is quite frequent among upper class people in Europe. I am just wondering what you call them or how they are seen in the United States.

Mal
Mar 23, 2005, 09:42
So what if you are rich and don't want to show it ? Does that make you of a lower social status. What of a millionaire that doesn't have a car, dress very normally and doesn't even have a job as he doesn't need it ? This is quite frequent among upper class people in Europe. I am just wondering what you call them or how they are seen in the United States.


If you are wealthy and don't show it then you are basically playing a game. People of your socio-economic level may act towards you in strange ways. Some may admire you if you profess to be doing it for "philisophical" reasons, and others will be somewhat beligerant since they may take your turning your back on material items as a commentary on their own avarice. It's a touchy subject. But once again, it only really matters to people who are of the same strata as you. Anyone above or below is very likely to not care at all.

Btw, Millionaires who don't work in our society are considered lazy and are looked down upon in private. People here like what they call "a self made man". That is someone who was poor or working class, and then raised themselves up through industrious behavior. These types of individuals are usually accorded the greatest amount of respect in public. Privately there may be some resentment (especially amongst upper classes, people at the top infrequently like to welcome new members), but no one would dare voice anything other than praise in public or on record. Infact it would be pretty scandalous to make any sort of derogatory comment about the person. For example, if they had a non cultured demeanor they wouldn't be refered to as "ignorant" or "uncouth" they would instead be called "folksy" or "down to earth". Negative traits then become positive traits and the only reason for it is because of money ><

Our President is a perfect example of this:

- Inability to observe nuance becomes "principled"
- Poor manner of speaking becomes "folksy"
- Lousy rationalization abilities becomes "determined"

See what I mean?

The "perfect" American would be someone who

- Has a moderate education. No more than a masters, or perhaps a law degree.
- Is wealthy, preferably through running a business or has business experience.
- Dresses in a middle class fashion.
- Professed love for rural "Americana" virtues
- Attends religious services
- Talks in a plain speaking manner

You just have to look at how we choose our political leaders to observe all or atleast some of those traits in every one of them. These types of people are popular and afforded the most respect by our society. I'm not sure how it is in other countries, but we have a small cottege industry here devoted to writing profiles and biographies of industrialists. Many of them are really quite famous and given celebrity status.

Maciamo
Mar 23, 2005, 10:28
If you are wealthy and don't show it then you are basically playing a game. People of your socio-economic level may act towards you in strange ways. Some may admire you if you profess to be doing it for "philisophical" reasons, and others will be somewhat beligerant since they may take your turning your back on material items as a commentary on their own avarice.

I know plenty of thrifty or downright stingy people, and many of them are quite rich. But can you say that it is a good thing in the US to be extravagant or at least care little about saving money ? Even the ultra-consumerist Japanese tend to save quite a big portion of their income, and don't mind not having a car or living in a tiny flat even if they could afford better.


Btw, Millionaires who don't work in our society are considered lazy and are looked down upon in private. People here like what they call "a self made man".

What if they become writers or (individual) researchers ? What if they organise some charities (look at the British royal family, who does'nt "work").


Infact it would be pretty scandalous to make any sort of derogatory comment about the person. For example, if they had a non cultured demeanor they wouldn't be refered to as "ignorant" or "uncouth" they would instead be called "folksy" or "down to earth".

In Europe people would be fast at criticising them. Look at someone like David Beckham, probably the most famous and richest football (soccer) player worldwide, who even got knighted by the Queen, is often looked down by the upper-middle or upper-classes as a "chav". It's also no wonder that GW Bush was so harshly criticised by so many Europeans. We just can't accept that somebody in a position of power be so uncultivated or ignorant. It conflicts with their status.


Our President is a perfect example of this:

- Inability to observe nuance becomes "principled"
- Poor manner of speaking becomes "folksy"
- Lousy rationalization abilities becomes "determined"

I guess that's mostly political correctness, especially when referring to one's own president. But most Europeans are not afraid of talking frankly about their politicians or any celebrity. Maybe that is why it becomes a scandal when an famous upper class person does something that would be ok for a lower class, but not for them (eg. swearing or spitting in public), even if they are not politicians.



The "perfect" American would be someone who

- Has a moderate education. No more than a masters, or perhaps a law degree.
- Is wealthy, preferably through running a business or has business experience.
- Dresses in a middle class fashion.
- Professed love for rural "Americana" virtues
- Attends religious services
- Talks in a plain speaking manner

And the perfect European would be like that (http://www.erothitan.com/press_info/2002-10-28_the_perfect_european_en.html) :p No, I don't thing there is any "perfect model" in most European countries.

Mal
Mar 23, 2005, 10:44
I know plenty of thrifty or downright stingy people, and many of them are quite rich. But can you say that it is a good thing in the US to be extravagant or at least care little about saving money ? Even the ultra-consumerist Japanese tend to save quite a big portion of their income, and don't mind not having a car or living in a tiny flat even if they could afford better.


Americans don't save. We have one of the lowest rates of saving in the developed world, and are personally at an all time low. Generally we're ok, because its been historically very easy to get land and a house in this country. Investment in property has been our version of saving for a long time, thanks mostly to two government agencies refered to as Freddy Mac and Fannie Mae. Because of this there are more Americans that own property and houses than any other nation in the world. Our return on investment in real-estate in this country is phenominal, its quite frankly the best investment any American can make (and the government makes it easy to get into it as well).



What if they become writers or (individual) researchers ? What if they organise some charities (look at the British royal family, who does'nt "work").


Probably not. I can't think of any famous philanthropists who weren't also great industrialists. Slate magazine publishes a list every year of americas top philanthropists, almost all of them are captains of industry.



I guess that's mostly political correctness, especially when referring to one's own president. But most Europeans are not afraid of talking frankly about their politicians or any celebrity. Maybe that is why it becomes a scandal when an famous upper class person does something that would be ok for a lower class, but not for them (eg. swearing or spitting in public), even if they are not politicians.


It's not all political correctness - on the part of the media (who knows better) it most likely is. On the behalf of the general population, this are the way they see it (or want to see it) - the exception of course being political partisans, but if it was their guy they would see it the same way. Also you may not know, but there was an event a few months back where the Vice President (on the floor of the senate no less!) told a Senator to "go **** yourself". There were some jokes made, but all in all no one really cared.



No, I don't thing there is any "perfect model" in most European countries.


Well, now you're just being silly :-) Of course every society has what they would consider a "perfect" representation of their ideal citizen. (Btw, that poster was funny).

Maciamo
Mar 23, 2005, 11:11
Because of this there are more Americans that own property and houses than any other nation in the world.

Please don't get carried away. I guess you meant in total number of people (because the US is by far the most populous developed country). However if you look at the home ownership rate (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/peo_hom_own) in developed countries, you'll see that the US may have a higher rate than Japan, France or Germany, but lower than Canada, the UK, Australia, and especially Italy and Ireland.


Our return on investment in real-estate in this country is phenominal, its quite frankly the best investment any American can make (and the government makes it easy to get into it as well).

What's the typical return rate (in %) for a real estate investment in the US ?


Well, now you're just being silly :-) Of course every society has what they would consider a "perfect" representation of their ideal citizen. (Btw, that poster was funny).

Well, I have lived in 5 EU countries and still can't think of any, as it depends too much on individual values. Sometimes I think that individualism also has a quite different meaning in Europe and America. While in the USA it means being able to succeed owing to your own efforts and possess things (mostly economical perspective), in Northern Europe it means not caring about what other people think of you, believe your own judgement (which involves a developed critical sense), or even mot minding travelling by oneself around the world. When I hear about American patriotism, the "American dream", the model of the "perfect American", the "American lifestyle" or the "American way", etc. I sometimes wonder if these values are as homogenous as they would be in a collectivist society like Japan. I think it is closer to Japan than to Europe anyway. In many European countries, people still associated more with their little region that with their whole country, and care more about their personal beliefs than some national values. That is partly why it is difficult to create a sense of European nationality based on common values (except very general ones).

DoctorP
Mar 23, 2005, 15:43
Americans don't save.

Please know that you are speaking for yourself and not ALL Americans! I personally save, and my whole family saves. I know of many families who save. Truthfully, those who can do, and those who want to...do, but there are some who just don't. Some people are content with living paycheck to paycheck, some of them by choice, but some because of conditions.

@ Maciamo...I looked at the site about home ownership, but I didn't see a good explanation as to what they considered a home...a house? A condo? A flat? I think Mal's point was that many people in the US own a house...and the land it sits on, while many people in Japan, England, etc...own their home, but it may be in the form of a condo or along those lines. Am I way off base here? Maybe you could educate me on something: If I own a house and it is leveled by an earthquake, I still own the land. What of people owning a condo or flat? If the building is leveled do they own anything anymore? Technically their property is gone right? (I am generally asking so that I can learn)

Glenn
Mar 23, 2005, 15:48
Americans don't save.

What Americans are you talking about here? Baby-boomers? Generation-X? It's my understanding that Americans in their 20s are much better informed than their parents, and are actually investing money and planning ahead for retirement more wisely than their parents. Do you have contradicting evidence?

fermento
Mar 23, 2005, 18:36
I signed for upper-middle clas..

I do not agree with everything Maciamo said. Manners (etc) AND money are eqaully important.

if you have money and no manners you are only nouveau riche and that's not a good thing. :D Being a bourgoise is also a bad thing. :D

I can't imagine society without classes or other kind of hierarchy. It just can't exist. And yes, I do feel there is a difference in social status. I really hate "Titanic". The main heroine shouldn't make a misalliance. Even if they only had a good name in the end... :blush:

this is my point of view exactly....
there will always be different social classes, you cant abolish them all.

but why would you because people need to be different dont they?

Mal
Mar 23, 2005, 18:53
Re: Americans Saving

I realize whenever someone makes a gross generalization on a Web BBS they ought to preface their statement with either "most" or "many" :-)

But honestly, the central bank has statistics pointing to the fact that we are currently at our lowest rate of personal savings as well as our highest level of personal debt. To top it all off, we've never been particularly good savers here. Like I said in my post, its not that desperate because of our national desire to own homes - They make fine savings accounts actually.

And while yes, more Americans today are savvy about what vehicles they have for savings (401k, IRA, Mutual Funds, etc) - they still don't save very much. I believe the nationa average is a whopping 50 dollars a month.

Yeah thats right, $50.00 a month :o

Honestly I'm surprised that one comment got more responses than almost anything else I posted :D

Maciamo
Mar 23, 2005, 22:37
@ Maciamo...I looked at the site about home ownership, but I didn't see a good explanation as to what they considered a home...a house? A condo? A flat? I think Mal's point was that many people in the US own a house...and the land it sits on, while many people in Japan, England, etc...own their home, but it may be in the form of a condo or along those lines.

In Japan, yes, but there are very few flats in England. English people usually dislike flats. As for the US, I don't think there are so many houses in places like Manhattan, so many people, even rich, will have to fo with a flat. But I agree in principle that land is cheaper in the States (or Canada or Australia) as there is more space. However in some isolated regions of Japan (Shimane, Akita...) land is very cheap too, and one prefecture even gives land for free to anyone who came from another prefecture and stays for at least 10 years (because of the exodus to the big cities).


Am I way off base here? Maybe you could educate me on something: If I own a house and it is leveled by an earthquake, I still own the land. What of people owning a condo or flat? If the building is leveled do they own anything anymore? Technically their property is gone right? (I am generally asking so that I can learn)

Not sure. Either you get nothing or the share you apartment represented in the whole building. Anyway there are no earthquake in most of Europe (almost only in Greece and Southern Italy).

Pachipro
Apr 1, 2005, 02:23
I very much enjoyed the discussion between Mal and Maciamo, but let me touch on a few things here. I ticked "Upper Middle Class".

Like Mal, I made a helluva lot of money in the 90's thanks to the dot com boom and lost quite a bit of it when the market tanked in 2000. Luckily I made most of it back these past 5 years and am now out of the market completely.

Coming from what might be considered a lower middle class working family, I pride myself on climbing the socio-economic ladder, so to speak, through a college education and wise investing and saving. I practiced what some might call "delayed gratification". Today I have no debt whatsoever and own my house outright. I am wealthy enough that I could chuck my high stress white collar job and take, and enjoy, what most would consider a blue collar, lower middle class job - driving a big rig. How would I be classified or even classify myself? I don't know.

According to statistics, my household income (from all sources) ranks among the top 15% in America, but no one who doesn't know me well doesn't know that. To them I am your average middle class working American and they, as well as people with my same household income level, would probably perceive me as just that. I live in a middle class home and drive a middle class car. Does it bother me? Not in the least. I could care less what others think.


So what if you are rich and don't want to show it ?

If you are wealthy and don't show it then you are basically playing a game. People of your socio-economic level may act towards you in strange ways. Some may admire you if you profess to be doing it for "philisophical" reasons, and others will be somewhat beligerant since they may take your turning your back on material items as a commentary on their own avarice. It's a touchy subject. But once again, it only really matters to people who are of the same strata as you. Anyone above or below is very likely to not care at all.
According to MAL I may be playing a game, but I beg to differ. I could go out tomorrow and buy a $500,000 house for cash and/or a couple of Lexus' for me and the wife, but I won't. Why? Because I don't desire them nor do I desire to flaunt my wealth just because I have it and can. The majority of my friends are not even close to me in wealth. I have only one friend who would probably be classified as being in the same "class" as myself as I find most wealthy people to be snobs.

Maybe it's because I never had any to begin with and everything I have was earned through hard work and investing instead of going out and buying the 42 inch plasma TV, the SUV's and stuff I really don't need. Am I a miser? No, not at all. I have everything I desire and if I need or want something I just go out and buy it with cash. I just can't see the logic in driving a gas guzzling SUV or Mercedes/BMW or to live in a ritzy neighborhood in a house that is too big for me just to show others that I have money when a 4 cylinder Toyota Solara does the job and a 2,000 sq ft house fits me quite well.

Mal mentioned that most Americans don't save and he is quite correct. They can't. The average American today is more interested in buying material things on credit than he/she is about saving for the future. According to the US Social Security Office, the average American today retires with only about $2,800 in assets!! And is totally dependent on the measly social security for retirement.

The average American family also has $18,000 in credit card debt at an average interest rate of 18%.

MAL is quite correct in that home ownership is at an all time high, and he also mentioned that the average American's debt is also at an all time high. I read somewhere that if if the economy tanked tomorrow, 70% of home owners would lose their house because of the refinancing boom these past few years. Alot of people refinanced for more than 100% of their homes value and alot of them are living "paycheck to paycheck" because of it. Personal bankruptcy is also at an all time high as well as the National debt. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are also under investigation for false bookkeeping. But this story seems to have disappeared from the news recently.


What's the typical return rate (in %) for a real estate investment in the US ?
Right now America is on the verge of a housing bubble that some are predicting will collapse like the dot coms. Depending on where you live, the return can be as high as (going from memory here) 20-30%/year or more in San Francisco where Mal lives, and New York and Los Angeles, to as little as 4-10% here in the Nashville, Tennessee suburbs.

My observation has been that alot of Americans are very materialistic and buy things they don't need, with money they don't have, just to impress people they don't like. They want to express an image that they are wealthy when if fact they are quite poor. They buy expensive SUV's, plasma TV's, and large houses that they really can't afford because credit is so easy in this country. How do I know this? Because I see it all around me. My neighbors and most of my friends and co-workers are in debt up to their eyeballs. Many husbands and wives are working two jobs just to cover their bills and debts. Many of my co-workers (drivers) are also driving on the weekends just to pay their bills! I really feel sorry for them as all they are doing is working and working and working. But they are still buying, and buying, and buying - on credit. Did you know that the majority of SUV's and higher dollar cars here in the US are leased? Americans are actually renting their gas guzzling SUV's and BMW's!


It doesn't matter as money is not related to class. But this tendency of American and Japanese people to think of themselves as "middle class" reflects the fact that they don't really care about classes.
I beg to differ here with you Maciamo. Here in the US "money" or at least the appearence of having it, is related to class. Most Americans, although they may classify themselves as middle class when in fact they aren't financially, do want to "show" others that they have more more money than they actually have. They want to at least give the appearence that they are of the upper or upper middle class when in fact they aren't. Even those in the "upper class" will spend more than they make to give the outward appearence that they "have" more than they actually do. Again, I know this from personal experience. I know a pilot for a major airline who makes more than $300,000 per year yet he's in serious debt because of his trying to live above his means.

Although they don't speak of it openly, nor will most of them admit it, here in the US, I have observed that most people are very concious of class. It is VERY important to most of them what cars they drive, where they live, what schools their kids go to, and what "name brand" clothes they wear. Much like the Japanese. The only difference is that a large majority of Japanese save 10% or more of their take home pay while a majority of Americans save nothing. If this were not the case people here in the US would not be in so much debt trying to impress others or living above their means.

This may have not made any sense, but I feel that I had to input my observations after living here in the US these past 16 years.

Duo
Apr 2, 2005, 22:36
Ummmmm, i'd like to think that i don't care about social class status, i treat everyone the same, but I guess we all find ourselves more comfortable with our own social group. Wealth wise i would say i come from a middle class family, however, intellectually and education wise i would say my family is on the upper elite part. At least my father and grandparents, i'm trying to get there :p. But seriously, i have found that I feel more comfortable with people similar to my status, who think like me, etc etc, and here in Belgium, being part of the international population I'd say that I get along much better with people who are in the same situation as me, expatriates living here. So, although we all like to think we treat everyone the same no matter the social status, i would say that there is a difference in the way we act, we all probably feel more comfortable and at ease and more compatible with people who are in the same educational and intellectual level as us, most importantly friends. I could see how we could have a significant other from a different class because the main interest would lie somewhere else, but with friends it's a bit different in my view, we need more than just sympathy, we need some kind of common ground to keep the friendship going. But back to the main question, i'd say that i don't really care about social status, but I have found that I get along easier with individuals with a similar backround such as mine.

Faustianideals
Apr 2, 2005, 22:51
I hate having so many labels for everything.
Homosapiens
-Male & Female
There is my label of everybody here.

Kama
Apr 16, 2005, 16:51
I hate having so many labels for everything.
Homosapiens
-Male & Female
There is my label of everybody here.

Don't you think that some people may be offended with this male/female labels too? :D There are some people who doesn't feel either man or woman, so why should you label them depending on their biological sex? XD

Apollo
Jun 9, 2005, 04:53
I have voted.
I won't tell unless you can guess which I belong to!! :-) :-)

Apollo
Jun 9, 2005, 05:05
OOps! I forgot to answer the question if I cared about social classes.

Answer:

No, I have noticed what I care about is their personality. I have among my circle of friends people from very different backgrounds; from working class to top upper class. One of my best friend is a nurse (working class) and her parents are both unemployed, and with no education. Why I keep her as a friend is the fact that she has a wonderful personality and she has struggled with her studies to become a nurse. She works in the biggest hospital in Denmark taking care of cancer patients.

Except from her, all of my friends are educated at universities across the globe.

What I look at is if we have something in common, or talk about. I do not go for a guy who has nothing to offer e.g. subjects to converse about. I like people with brains, no matter their background.

Tsuyoiko
Aug 2, 2005, 00:40
One of my best friend is a nurse (working class) and her parents are both unemployed, and with no education.

I would consider a nurse to be middle class, as they have to go to college for three years, and it is a very respected occupation.

The general conclusion I have come to over this whole discussion is that class is very, very subjective and it has no basis in reality. How would you classify me? My grandad was a miner, my dad a CAD engineer at Rolls Royce and my mum ran a school printroom. I went to university. My husband worked in a factory when I met him and now works in a call centre. By that, my family used to be working class, then middle class. I am upper-middle class, but my husband is working class.

BTW, I chose 'I don't care'. If people in the same family can have different classes, and if classes change in less than a generation then they might as well not exist.

Maciamo
Aug 5, 2005, 11:25
I would consider a nurse to be middle class, as they have to go to college for three years, and it is a very respected occupation.

I agree with that.



The general conclusion I have come to over this whole discussion is that class is very, very subjective and it has no basis in reality. How would you classify me? My grandad was a miner, my dad a CAD engineer at Rolls Royce and my mum ran a school printroom. I went to university. My husband worked in a factory when I met him and now works in a call centre. By that, my family used to be working class, then middle class. I am upper-middle class, but my husband is working class.

BTW, I chose 'I don't care'. If people in the same family can have different classes, and if classes change in less than a generation then they might as well not exist.

Yes, classes may change in a single generation, and there can also be different classes within the same generation of siblings, depending on their respective education and way of thinking. As I said before, classes are something that defines personality more than money. Usually once someone reached teenagehood, their class is already determined, well before they finish their studies and start making a living. In fact, I could easily tell the social classes of my classmates ever since primary school. When I met them later once they had grown up, they hadn't changed and would still fit exactly in the social class I attributed them then.

Psychologists say that personality and intelligence are shaped within the first 3 to 5 years of childhood. I think that social classes are also determined during that period. At least it has been true for all the people I have known since their childhood. I also think that parents determine the children's future in these first 5 years. If a child is raised as upper-middle class, their interests and orientation in life will be upper-middle class (i.e. usually university educated professional, cadre, etc.). If the family background is lower class, then the children will grow with lower class values and mindset. Of course parents are not the only factor. The toys or games one plays with, the kindergarten or school one goes to, the attention and care one receives, the clothes one uses to wear in childhood, etc. all influence the development of one's personality - and therefore social class.

Tsuyoiko
Aug 5, 2005, 21:10
Psychologists say that personality and intelligence are shaped within the first 3 to 5 years of childhood.

I would generally agree with that, particularly regarding intelligence. I certainly believe (to pick one example) that children who are exposed to books at an early age are more likely to grow into intelligent children and adults.


I think that social classes are also determined during that period.

I disagree here. It is hard to imagine an intelligent child growing into an unintelligent adult. But a working class child can grow into an upper-middle class adult. My husband's family are a good example. His parents are undeniably working class. His dad worked in a factory until last year and now works in a warehouse. His mum is a cleaner. His brother works in a shop. My husband was expected to go into the same factory as his dad when he left school, but he determined to go to college instead. After college, he ended up in the factory anyway. He now works in a call centre, but the fact that he went to college and is well read, takes an interest in politics etc, would probably make him middle class. His sister went straight into the factory after school and had her first child at 19 - very working class. BUT, she has now passed college and started at university to become a teacher, at the end of which she could arguably be considered upper-middle class. So the class of my husband and sister-in-law certainly weren't fixed at an early age, and there are many families around here that have a similar situation. It is very common now for people to go to university in their 30s and 40s, so their class will change at a mature age. My Dad went to university at the age of 39.


If a child is raised as upper-middle class, their interests and orientation in life will be upper-middle class (i.e. usually university educated professional, cadre, etc.). If the family background is lower class, then the children will grow with lower class values and mindset.

Again, I disagree. My husband's family are again a good example. He has totally different values to the rest of his family, because of interests he has developed on his own, and probably since he met me.

I think what you are calling 'social class' I would call 'personality'. You can use 'class' terms to describe the way someone acts, thinks etc, but I don't think these classes represent any real structures in society. Ultimately, any attempt to classify the human race is going to fail, as we are a bunch of differently shaped pegs and all the holes are round.

Maciamo
Aug 5, 2005, 23:22
I disagree here. It is hard to imagine an intelligent child growing into an unintelligent adult. But a working class child can grow into an upper-middle class adult. My husband's family are a good example. His parents are undeniably working class. His dad worked in a factory until last year and now works in a warehouse. His mum is a cleaner. His brother works in a shop.

I think you misunderstood me. I said that intelligence, personality and social class were all determined in the first 5 years of childhood. However, I never said that working class or non-intellectual parents forcedly bred working class and non-intellectual children. If the child has access to books, "good toys", and is made to become curious because of his environment (it is extrenely difficult to say what exactly give such results), then the child will become curious and intelligent and probably become a higher class intellectual, despite his working class background. Likewise, an upper-class child that is not taken care of and has little intellectual stimuli in his early years will grow less curious and intelligent, and may not fit in the upper class model his/her parents would hope for.


It is very common now for people to go to university in their 30s and 40s, so their class will change at a mature age. My Dad went to university at the age of 39.

I don't think so. Going to university is not the only factor determining social classes. In fact, I'd say that some people who don't go to university for some reason may be more upper-class than others who go, because of their personality. Intelligence is also not the only factor for classes. Personally I consider that all the "technical" subjects (mostly applied sciences) can never be upper-class. To be upper-class requires a literary and philosophic background, i.e. a good general knowledge and culture, as well as developed manners. A chemical engineer may earn more than a historian or a BA in classical literature or classical languages, but the image of the former will always be more associated with the lower or middle classes.



I think what you are calling 'social class' I would call 'personality'. You can use 'class' terms to describe the way someone acts, thinks etc, but I don't think these classes represent any real structures in society. Ultimately, any attempt to classify the human race is going to fail, as we are a bunch of differently shaped pegs and all the holes are round.

Social classes are more than personality, it's a way of living. It's the way you dress, talk, entertain yourself, your topic of discussion, your hobbies and tastes. Whatever you say, someone who dresses in suits or wool jumper, plays tennis or golf, listen to classical music, plays whist/bridge/chess, go to the theatre, speaks formally and politely, and is well cultivated, will always appear more upper class than someone who wears hooded sweatshirts and trainers, play football or skateboard, listen to hard rock or hip hop, plays pachinko, go to the pub, speaks very familiarily and swears.

Tsuyoiko
Aug 6, 2005, 00:32
I don't mean to be rude, but I really have trouble accepting that these are your true views as they seem so antiquated and parochial. I know sometimes people take a stance in a debate for the sake of argument, rather than to put forward their real opinions. Is that what you are doing?

If these are your true beliefs, it troubles me that you would pass such sweeping judgments on people, all based on your own bias.


Whatever you say, someone who dresses in suits or wool jumper, plays tennis or golf, listen to classical music, plays whist/bridge/chess, go to the theatre, speaks formally and politely, and is well cultivated, will always appear more upper class than someone who wears hooded sweatshirts and trainers, play football or skateboard, listen to hard rock or hip hop, plays pachinko, go to the pub, speaks very familiarily and swears.

The key word here is 'appear'. You are making assumptions based on appearance that in many cases would prove to be wrong.

Above all, what is the point of making these distinctions anyway? Why not just 'judge' people on the basis of "yes, I would like to get to know you better" or "I don't think we would get along", rather than trying to pigeonhole people in this artificial manner? What do your judgments of class help you to do?

Pachipro
Aug 6, 2005, 02:35
Sorry. I must reply here.


Social classes are more than personality, it's a way of living. It's the way you dress, talk, entertain yourself, your topic of discussion, your hobbies and tastes. Whatever you say, someone who dresses in suits or wool jumper, plays tennis or golf, listen to classical music, plays whist/bridge/chess, go to the theatre, speaks formally and politely, and is well cultivated, will always appear more upper class than someone who wears hooded sweatshirts and trainers, play football or skateboard, listen to hard rock or hip hop, plays pachinko, go to the pub, speaks very familiarily and swears.

The key word here is 'appear'. You are making assumptions based on appearance that in many cases would prove to be wrong.
I think Tsuyoiko is quite correct in her assessment in that the key word here is "appear". I feel that social classes are more than a way of living. They are just a way to repress the masses by compartmentalizing them based on outward appearences, birth, etc.

To me it's more about character and personality. Just because one is born into the upper class does not make one a better person just because he/she dresses a particular way, or attends the theater or plays bridge, etc. Ever hear of the phrase, "Before you pass judgement on another person, walk a mile in his shoes first."

As I climbed up the socio-economic ladder from lower middle-class I have dressed in suits or wool jumpers, I 've played tennis and play golf, I very much enjoy classical music. I can play chess and bridge. I still often go to the theater, enjoy classical concerts at the symphony halls and I speak formally when required to in a social situation. And I read at least 3 books a month. No one would ever know my background unless they did a formal investigation and I fit in quite well.

On the other hand, I very much enjoy wearing trainers at home, I enjoy hard rock as much as classical, I love to play pachinko, go to the pubs and I swear and smoke where appropriate.

I am perfectly comfortable in both social situations, but the biggest thing I have learned throughout the years is that the people who were born and raised in the upper echelons of society are nothing but snobs for the most part and look down and pass judgement on people of the lower classes without even getting to know them as Tsuyoiko said. This goes for American, Japanese, and European. And it is not aimed at you Maciamo. It is just a personal assessment based on experience.

I have been at many formal dining situations and gatherings with those of the "upper crust", so to speak, both in Japan and the US, and there basically is no difference. I was a member of a prestigious golf club, lived in the most expensive area, drove an expensive car, wore the finest name brand clothes, etc. and I was just appalled at the amount of gossip, phoniness, back stabbing, spousal cheating, and ***-kissing that goes on that it sickened me to the point where I couldn't take it anymore.

"So and so didn't donate much this year to the charity so they must be on hard times." "I heard that so and so is getting divorced. Did you know they were having problems? I heard her husband had a mistress." "I was really disappointed that we didn't get a mention in the paper (on the social page) when we were at such and such restaurant last week." Granted, they do do some good charity work and volunteering, but I discovered that nothing is done in the upper social class unless it is benificial and self-serving to the party or parties involved. To my surprise, quite a few, although they have money, are actually living on the balls of their *** and are as much in debt as those below them. Just on a higher scale. This I found most surprising as they had to "keep up appearences" and they did a pretty good job of it.

After several years of this so-called upper-class lifestyle we chucked it, sold the house and cars, cancelled the club memberships and moved to an upper middle class neighborhood where we are quite happy and satisfied. We drive 'normal' cars and do not flaunt our wealth. Don't get me wrong here, people here also try and live above their means, but they are more real and down to earth than the people we encountered in the upper class. They work hard and are more honest in their dealings with their neighbor. When a neighbor here helps you out he doesn't expect anything in return or accolades, whereas in the upper class you "owed them one" so to speak, and they often collected or they talked about you. Heck, I think they talked about you anyway just to have something to do in their boring lives.

I consider myself fortunate in that I have experienced the full spectrum from the lower to the upper class. Not the elite mind you, but high enough where most of my aquaintances (I wouldn't call them 'friends' by any means) had high six to seven-figure incomes. And I am more satisfied where I am now. I even chucked my high paying executive job to drive a truck as it is more enjoyable and satisfying! The people here may not be as "cultured" as some like to say, but, for the most part, they are real people who mean what they say and say what they mean.

I may have not been born into the upper class, but at least I experienced it. And if I was born there, I'm sure I would also have been taught to pass judgement on those below me and have sterotypes of people based on the way they dressed, the music they listened to, the pubs they attend, or what their educational background is without getting to know them first. I would have been taught that if they weren't born into "our class" they are definetly below us, no matter what, and I would have made irrational judgements.

For this I am grateful as I feel I have more class in my pinky than any of them will ever have as, to paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I don't judge people on their dress, race or educational background, or the music they listen to. I judge them on the basis of their character as, to use a worn out phrase, I have been there, done that. Thanks, but no thanks. For the most part you (the upper class) are too judgemental and haven't a clue as to how the other side lives or how they think. To them I say unless you've experienced what I have experienced don't judge a book by it's cover, as I may just be able to go toe to toe with you on any level. Plus I may just have more money and culture than you. I just don't flaunt it.

Tsuyoiko
Aug 6, 2005, 03:11
Thanks Pachipro. Your experiences show that Maciamo is mistaken when he says:

intelligence, personality and social class were all determined in the first 5 years of childhood.

By saying this, Maciamo, are you implying that if I am working class at the age of 5, I might as well not bother trying to improve my lot?

Maciamo
Aug 6, 2005, 11:35
If these are your true beliefs, it troubles me that you would pass such sweeping judgments on people, all based on your own bias.

Not really. This is based only on my own experience and observations, but all the people I have known since childhood have turned up exactly the way I (or my family, friends, teachers or whatever) had predicted when I was a child.



The key word here is 'appear'. You are making assumptions based on appearance that in many cases would prove to be wrong.

Again, not really, as social classes is almost only about appearance (and of course the personality that create this appearance).


Above all, what is the point of making these distinctions anyway? Why not just 'judge' people on the basis of "yes, I would like to get to know you better" or "I don't think we would get along", rather than trying to pigeonhole people in this artificial manner? What do your judgments of class help you to do?

What's the point ? It's a way of classifying people like any other. People seek other people with similar hobbies, interests, values, ideals, etc. Social classes are just a very rough division of society according to how cultivated, sophisticated or intellectual one happens to be. That is why members of a same family can very well belong to very different classes (especially nowadays, in the era of freedom, universla education, easy access to information and globalisation). Such classes have always existed since civilisations, knowledge and education exist, even in societies where people are not well aware about them. Denying the existence of social classes would be like denying that people can be different. For example the Japanese aspire to as much homogeneity as possible, and thus claim they do not have social classes. After a few years in Japan, I can tell you for sure that social classes do exist in Japan - it's just that people don't talk about it the same way as they would in the UK.

Void
Aug 6, 2005, 19:00
i think you are now talking about two different ways of classification of social
classes and this is causing the confusion. One based on income and another based on social roles.
But, i think in any case i am not determined from the early childhood what i am going to be. Maybe it is not true for some countries, but for those which tend to call themselves 'civilized world' it is so.

I can be born in a family with very low income, but due to the compulsory education i get my 1st chance to learn much more about this world. The second chance is the upbrinning - if my parents are not of narrow intellect and parochial attitudes the can explain that many things in my life depend on me, and my world is not limited to theirs and, certainly, i have more opportunities than them. Reaching afe of consent i can make a decision to stay where i am or to struggle and jump to a new state.

But for sure in many cases the amount of one`s bills cant be a measure to judge intelligence, cultural level and such. Some of blue collars have higher income than some teachers, and yet, some brutal looking truck-driver can beat a teacher in any of those fields (well, it is not a tendency, of cource, but still...) How to define the upper class then?



Social classes are more than personality, it's a way of living. It's the way you dress, talk, entertain yourself, your topic of discussion, your hobbies and tastes. Whatever you say, someone who dresses in suits or wool jumper, plays tennis or golf, listen to classical music, plays whist/bridge/chess, go to the theatre, speaks formally and politely, and is well cultivated, will always appear more upper class than someone who wears hooded sweatshirts and trainers, play football or skateboard, listen to hard rock or hip hop, plays pachinko, go to the pub, speaks very familiarily and swears.


Very often it is a personality. Even at my town i could take lessons of riding, but just because i love horses and not because i care much about nice jackets, boots or cap. Nowday it is nothing more than a stereotype that chess or tennis is for upper class (well, one can say chess is for intellectual upper class, though :D) - many parents now try to take their kids to tennis school. When i was young my parents couldn`t afford it, but to be honest my "goat weight" and muscles are much better for table tennis. In late years i bought the racket and asked some people to teach me, well... tennis racket collects the dust behind the sofa and we use balls to warm up before fencing. And i rather spend money on CDs (sometimes classical, btw) than on tennis lessons.
I will not spend a fortune of money on a suit with Valentino`s (or smth) label, i just can`t afford it, but i can buy decent looking staff fot lower money and i
am comfortable in sweatshirts and wool jumpers as well and have both - to go to job and outdoors

without spreading the thought any further. My way of living determined today by two things - my own personality and my income. If latter rises some other hobbies and interests can appear, even the way of dressing, and vice versa. So, according to my income i am middle class, according my social role - hell knows :D

and social stratification by roles, probably, got to have another name, or nowdays new classifactory criteria should be developed to continue using concept of "social classes"

Maciamo
Aug 7, 2005, 11:18
The second chance is the upbrinning - if my parents are not of narrow intellect and parochial attitudes the can explain that many things in my life depend on me, and my world is not limited to theirs and, certainly, i have more opportunities than them.

Exactly ! That is why I said that 1) class was not based on money, and 2) even born in a lower class and not very well educated family, if the parents can give their children a liking for learning or be curious of the world, then the child will become more educated then his/her parents. Nowadays, in the age of information (the Internet) and free universal education (at least in Europe), education does not depend on one's family's wealth, but on the willingness to learn. It's all in the attitude and personality. Someone from a rich family sent to a "good school" may not learn much if they don't care about learning, whereas a child from a lower class background with an unsatiable curiosity could become a great intellectual. It could be than classes are still a bit more based on money in the United States, as education is not always 100% state-funded like in most of Europe.


But for sure in many cases the amount of one`s bills cant be a measure to judge intelligence, cultural level and such. Some of blue collars have higher income than some teachers, and yet, some brutal looking truck-driver can beat a teacher in any of those fields (well, it is not a tendency, of cource, but still...) How to deibe the upper class then?

That is exactly why I said that classes are not based on money. Nowadays a plumber can make more money than a university professor. Likewise, drug-dealers, gangsters, etc. can become dirtily rich, but not even know the capital of their own country (some famous mafia boss couldn't even read and write). Then come all the nouveaux riches, like the pop stars, actors and atheletes. Most of them are from lower class background but have become richer than many true upper-class people. Some of them try to pretend to have become upper-class because they live in a several million dollar mansion, are driven in limousines, wear designer clothes and eat at top-class restaurants. What they don't understand (often because they are in fact not very well educated) is that money does not define class as much as one's topic of conversation, tastes, refinement, education and manners. For example, David Beckham will never be upper-class even living in a castle, firstly because he is a footballer (i.e. the very image of the lower classes), and the way he speaks and dresses influences mostly the lower class youth (known as "chavs" in the UK).



(well, one can say chess is for intellectual upper class, though :D)

Personally, I cannot consider someone with no intellectual hobbies (whatever their actual intelligence) as upper-class. But not all intelligent people are upper-class, as it's not the intelligence but the intellectualism (i.e. liking for intellectual activities) that defines class.

Maciamo
Aug 7, 2005, 11:49
To me it's more about character and personality. Just because one is born into the upper class does not make one a better person just because he/she dresses a particular way, or attends the theater or plays bridge, etc.

I see you have been raised in a society where the word "upper" necessarily means "better". However, I cannot see any link between social class and how good a person is as a human being. I have always been told since my childhood that there are good and bad people in every level of society. So I have never implied once that upper-class people were better people or the reverse. It's completely unrelated.



As I climbed up the socio-economic ladder from lower middle-class I have dressed in suits or wool jumpers, I 've played tennis and play golf, I very much enjoy classical music. I can play chess and bridge. I still often go to the theater, enjoy classical concerts at the symphony halls and I speak formally when required to in a social situation. And I read at least 3 books a month. No one would ever know my background unless they did a formal investigation and I fit in quite well.

On the other hand, I very much enjoy wearing trainers at home, I enjoy hard rock as much as classical, I love to play pachinko, go to the pubs and I swear and smoke where appropriate.

Thats interesting that you are so versatile in your attitude to life. Not many people are like that, I think. In my case, I used to like hard rock (and classical) as a child, but for some reasons, I stopped liking it as I matured (it just sounded like annoying noise afterwards).



I am perfectly comfortable in both social situations, but the biggest thing I have learned throughout the years is that the people who were born and raised in the upper echelons of society are nothing but snobs for the most part and look down and pass judgement on people of the lower classes without even getting to know them as Tsuyoiko said. This goes for American, Japanese, and European.
...
...
After several years of this so-called upper-class lifestyle we chucked it, sold the house and cars, cancelled the club memberships and moved to an upper middle class neighborhood where we are quite happy and satisfied. We drive 'normal' cars and do not flaunt our wealth. Don't get me wrong here, people here also try and live above their means, but they are more real and down to earth than the people we encountered in the upper class. They work hard and are more honest in their dealings with their neighbor. When a neighbor here helps you out he doesn't expect anything in return or accolades, whereas in the upper class you "owed them one" so to speak, and they often collected or they talked about you. Heck, I think they talked about you anyway just to have something to do in their boring lives.

I know what you are talking about. I was born in an upper middle class family (although I do have upper class relatives), but went to a school where a sizeable portion of the people were really upper-class, and I learned to know how hypocritical and snobbish some of them can be. But I'd say there are two kinds of upper-classes:

1) those who try to live above their means and pretend to like things they don't care for (e.g. classical music). These are the people you described. These are mostly social unfit, who were born upper-class but whose personality does not fit in the upper-class values. They are only pretending. These are the people who go to classical music concerts, but cannot tell Brahms from Schumann apart (I chose two contemporary composers on purpose). These are people who talk about philosophy but don't have any ideas of their own, and in fact don't understand a thing about philosophy. Just pretending, but actually making a fool of themselves when meeting people from the second group...

2) These are people who are genuinely upper-class by nature. These people usually don't care much about 'show-off' social gathering. Usually they are real intellectuals, who care about their job or have a deep passion for some academic subjects. It also includes some landed lords who have nothing to prove, do not need to work, but have a genuine passion for learning (people like Winston Churchill).


I consider myself fortunate in that I have experienced the full spectrum from the lower to the upper class. Not the elite mind you, but high enough where most of my aquaintances (I wouldn't call them 'friends' by any means) had high six to seven-figure incomes. And I am more satisfied where I am now. I even chucked my high paying executive job to drive a truck as it is more enjoyable and satisfying! The people here may not be as "cultured" as some like to say, but, for the most part, they are real people who mean what they say and say what they mean.

I totally understand you. As you may have noticed, I chose "upper middle class" in the poll, although I feel much closer in character to the true upper class than people in my family. But it's justly because there are so many pretending upper-class and they have such a bad image of snobbery and hypocrisy, that I don't want to be associated with them. Everyone on this forum knows how outspoken I can be, and this character of mine make me hate lies and hypocrisy with a vengeance.


For this I am grateful as I feel I have more class in my pinky than any of them will ever have as, to paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I don't judge people on their dress, race or educational background, or the music they listen to. I judge them on the basis of their character as, to use a worn out phrase, I have been there, done that. Thanks, but no thanks. For the most part you (the upper class) are too judgemental and haven't a clue as to how the other side lives or how they think. To them I say unless you've experienced what I have experienced don't judge a book by it's cover, as I may just be able to go toe to toe with you on any level. Plus I may just have more money and culture than you. I just don't flaunt it.

Personally, I do just the opposite. I observe people's character, personality, actions and behaviour, then judge which social class in more suitable for them. In fact, there is no need to even meet people to determine their class, I can usually tell just from what people write on a forum like this one.

Tsuyoiko
Aug 7, 2005, 19:16
even born in a lower class and not very well educated family, if the parents can give their children a liking for learning or be curious of the world, then the child will become more educated then his/her parents. Nowadays, in the age of information (the Internet) and free universal education (at least in Europe), education does not depend on one's family's wealth, but on the willingness to learn. It's all in the attitude and personality. Someone from a rich family sent to a "good school" may not learn much if they don't care about learning, whereas a child from a lower class background with an unsatiable curiosity could become a great intellectual. It could be than classes are still a bit more based on money in the United States, as education is not always 100% state-funded like in most of Europe.

This seems to contradict your statement that class is decided by the age of 5.

Basically, what you call 'class' I would call 'intellectualism'. There will be some differences though, like style of dress and some choices of activity. These depend partly on wealth, so I think your definition of class has to depend partly on wealth too. No matter how intellectual I am, if I have a low income I cannot afford to wear expensive clothes and go to the opera. I would probably pare it right down, and say the differences lie in love of expanding the mind, so what you call 'upper class', I call 'high intellectual' and define as putting the expansion of the mind before virtually anything else - on that definition many of us here probably are 'upper class', or as I prefer 'high intellectual'. And your very subjective judgments about what fits into each class wouldn't work for me. I love to learn above anything, but I also like rock music and hooded tops, I swear and speak in a broad regional accent - and I don't like to see men in suits, I suck at chess and classical music bores me!

Maciamo
Aug 7, 2005, 22:36
This seems to contradict your statement that class is decided by the age of 5.


Not at all. The personality and character, i.e. curiosity, willingness to learn, sensitivity to arts, etc., are mostly (not completely) decided by the age of 5. After that, it's just a matter of actually learning stuff. Until the early or mid 20th century it was harder for people with the right character and sensitivity to "become" upper-class, because they did not have as easy an access to information or education as nowadays. This mean that although they had the right predispositions, they couldn't fulfill their craving for knowledge, couldn't get the job that goes with it, couldn't get the money from that job, and ultimately were forced to stay in a lower class than their abilities or character would have wanted. But nowadays most people in developed countries have enough access to education and information to change class easily. That is why I said that classes (nowadays and in developed countries) are determined in early childhood.

Pachipro
Aug 10, 2005, 01:41
I see you have been raised in a society where the word "upper" necessarily means "better". However, I cannot see any link between social class and how good a person is as a human being. I have always been told since my childhood that there are good and bad people in every level of society. So I have never implied once that upper-class people were better people or the reverse. It's completely unrelated.
To be truthful, yes, I was born into a lower-middle class working family and was always told that "upper=better lifestyle" and that's what we should strive for as, "This is America! Anyone can become a member of the upper classes if they work hard enough for it. It's there for the taking if you want it." Therefore, I was the first one of all our combined generations to actually do something, attend a university (paid for by myself, no help), graduate, and move to an "upper class" so to speak. It set an example for my siblings and their children have followed suit and I am proud of that. My sisters and brother never attended a university, but their children did and I am glad they are not relegated to menial labor jobs as the previous generations were.

True, there are good and bad people on all levels of society, but your comment on on how one dresses and how they talk and what pubs they attend, etc. led me, and I'm sure Tsuyoiko, to believe that you were implying that dress, etc. = social class. I agree in that it is completely unrelated.


Thats interesting that you are so versatile in your attitude to life. Not many people are like that, I think. In my case, I used to like hard rock (and classical) as a child, but for some reasons, I stopped liking it as I matured (it just sounded like annoying noise afterwards).
I find it interesting as well in that I am comfortable in any setting. Why, at 50 yrs old, I still like head banging hard rock and todays rock is beyond me. But I also listen to the classics, jazz, contemporary, etc. If the music appeals to me I buy it or download it. My 20 something nephews love us as they think we are so cool and "with it" so to speak. The truth is I really enjoy the music. I am comfortable in a country western bar, a karaoke bar in Japan, or an upscale bar or restaurant. When I go out it is usually "sharp casual" and it seems to fit in almost anywhere.


I know what you are talking about. I was born in an upper middle class family (although I do have upper class relatives), but went to a school where a sizeable portion of the people were really upper-class, and I learned to know how hypocritical and snobbish some of them can be. But I'd say there are two kinds of upper-classes:

1) those who try to live above their means and pretend to like things they don't care for (e.g. classical music). These are the people you described. These are mostly social unfit, who were born upper-class but whose personality does not fit in the upper-class values. They are only pretending. These are the people who go to classical music concerts, but cannot tell Brahms from Schumann apart (I chose two contemporary composers on purpose). These are people who talk about philosophy but don't have any ideas of their own, and in fact don't understand a thing about philosophy. Just pretending, but actually making a fool of themselves when meeting people from the second group...

2) These are people who are genuinely upper-class by nature. These people usually don't care much about 'show-off' social gathering. Usually they are real intellectuals, who care about their job or have a deep passion for some academic subjects. It also includes some landed lords who have nothing to prove, do not need to work, but have a genuine passion for learning (people like Winston Churchill).
I completely agree with both these points that you have made and my experience shows that it is true. The people I have met in situation no.2 I really enjoyed. I just wish I could meet more of them. The people in situation no 1 seem to do these things because it is what is "expected" of them. Even if they were not born into this class, they feel that because they are now a member of it that they must go to the concert or opera, etc. but do not take any measures to actually learn about it. These people completely turned me off, but were whom I seemed to meet the most.

In my own case, I took the time to learn and read about these things not because I thought I was supposed to, but because I was genuinly interested in them. Once I had learned what was truely behind the music and operas and plays I became more interested. Once I learned the intricacies of chess for example, I became an avid player, not because it was expected of me, but because it was fascinating and utilized my brain. I will admit that I played tennis because I thought that's what people here do and it was "expected." But I soon gave it up because it didn't interest me. This surprised my so-called friends. "What? You're not playing tennis this weekend?" "No. It doesn't interest me."


But it's justly because there are so many pretending upper-class and they have such a bad image of snobbery and hypocrisy, that I don't want to be associated with them. Everyone on this forum knows how outspoken I can be, and this character of mine make me hate lies and hypocrisy with a vengeance.
Here! Here! I totally agree with you as I feel the same way. That's why I moved away from it. However, I appreciate your honesty and outspokenness next to Mike Cashs'. But sometimes your outspoken ways need to be clarified as it can give the wrong impression.


Personally, I do just the opposite. I observe people's character, personality, actions and behaviour, then judge which social class in more suitable for them. In fact, there is no need to even meet people to determine their class, I can usually tell just from what people write on a forum like this one.
Really? Interesting. How would you judge me if you happened to see me coming out of a pachinko parlor dressed in a leather jacket, jeans, and sunglasses with a cigarette in my mouth? How would you judge me if you entered a karaoke bar and I was up there, a little drunk, singing? Or if I met you and your wife in line for the opera dressed in "black tie" for example and didn't smoke or use foul language? Would my dress in either of these situations determine my social class? Does my writing reveal my social class? :blush: :wave:

Maciamo
Aug 10, 2005, 08:30
To be truthful, yes, I was born into a lower-middle class working family and was always told that "upper=better lifestyle" and that's what we should strive for as, "This is America! Anyone can become a member of the upper classes if they work hard enough for it. It's there for the taking if you want it."

Funny. Everytime I heard of the "American Dream" in Europe, it was about anyone being able to rise from poverty and become millionaire if they worked hard enough for it. NEVER have I heard someone explain it in terms of class - probably because the meaning of class in Europe is generally understood as the one I described. So one cannot change class by getting money (not more than one can buy love with money, if I can compare it this way).


True, there are good and bad people on all levels of society, but your comment on on how one dresses and how they talk and what pubs they attend, etc. led me, and I'm sure Tsuyoiko, to believe that you were implying that dress, etc. = social class. I agree in that it is completely unrelated.

It is not "comlpetely" unrelated, as there is a certain taste/style associated with each class (whatever the price of the clothes themselves). But it's good to keep in mind that a lot of real upper-class people (not pretenders) in the UK can dress quite badly. I was once told that in Britain there are two kinds of people who do not care enough about what people think of them to be able to go in pyjama and slippers buy their newspaper in the street : the very lower and upper class. Likewise, pretending upper-class as well as most upper-middle class tend to care more about "speaking well" than the real upper-class, who do not mind speaking in their own original accent. One of the best example of real upper-class person fitting this description is Alexander Thynn[\url], Marquess or Bath and resident of [url=http://www.eupedia.com/england/longleat.shtml]Longleat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Thynn,_7th_Marquess_of_Bath)


Really? Interesting. How would you judge me if you happened to see me coming out of a pachinko parlor dressed in a leather jacket, jeans, and sunglasses with a cigarette in my mouth? How would you judge me if you entered a karaoke bar and I was up there, a little drunk, singing? Or if I met you and your wife in line for the opera dressed in "black tie" for example and didn't smoke or use foul language? Would my dress in either of these situations determine my social class? Does my writing reveal my social class? :blush: :wave:

The point is that it takes some time to know someone well enough to determine their exact class. In some cases it's pretty straightfrward though. When I meet someone who speaks with a sloppy accent, dresses like a punk and tells me that his only amusement in life is to drink beer and eat pizza, the image is immediately that of a lower class. But that is not just based on appearance but on what the person tells me about him/herself, such as his/her values and interests.

In your case, based on what the content of your posts, my image of you is middle to upper-middle class. As for the situation you described above, let us not forget that the class we belong to are as much what we want them to be as what other people think of us. So if you change your behaviour, you can also change your class. Most people can't change their behaviour in an extreme manner (i.e. lower to upper class or vice-versa), but some with a versatile personality, gift for acting or who just happened to grow up in different milieux, could very well simulate different social classes. Their most natural and most common behaviour will determine their "real" class, I suppose (if such a thing exists anyway).

Revenant
Oct 4, 2005, 22:42
I was adopted into an upper-middle class family at age five. I did see and experience the luxuries of this class, having a father who had a very successful dental practice, and a mother who worked part-time as a speech therapist. My siblings and I grew up with a condominium in Victoria, a motorhome at one point, a cabin at the lake, and a larger than average house. We also took a lot of trips, and had been to places that most of my classmates could only dream of.

My current place? I'd say I make an average salary for someone my age in Japan, but that is at a whole lot less hours than someone of my age would be working. We are always just at the edge of not making our financial bills, in part cause we make trips back to Canada as often as we can (son's exposure to English important before he starts elementary school).

Anyways, at first, I didn't like not being able to buy things that I wanted, but after a while, I began to just not care. An mp3 player will quickly become obselete, but as long as it serves it's purpose, is still okay by me now. I couldn't go out on the town like I used to, but as I get older, that matters less to me now.

Sure, some money would solve some problems now, but life is always full of minor problems, and I refuse to get all stressed about them. We'll be alright, and eventually, we'll be finacially more stable (I'm sure of that). As long as we've got decent food, shelter, and a few luxuries (such as a couple beers everyday), I'm quite content where I am. Perhaps I lack ambition, but I am content.

Maciamo
Oct 4, 2005, 23:37
I was adopted into an upper-middle class family at age five. I did see and experience the luxuries of this class, having a father who had a very successful dental practice, and a mother who worked part-time as a speech therapist. My siblings and I grew up with a condominium in Victoria, a motorhome at one point, a cabin at the lake, and a larger than average house. We also took a lot of trips, and had been to places that most of my classmates could only dream of.

My current place? I'd say I make an average salary for someone my age in Japan, but that is at a whole lot less hours than someone of my age would be working. We are always just at the edge of not making our financial bills, in part cause we make trips back to Canada as often as we can (son's exposure to English important before he starts elementary school).

Sounds similar to me, except that I wasn't adopted (well, sometimes I wonder). :p


Anyways, at first, I didn't like not being able to buy things that I wanted, but after a while, I began to just not care. An mp3 player will quickly become obselete, but as long as it serves it's purpose, is still okay by me now. I couldn't go out on the town like I used to, but as I get older, that matters less to me now.

It's a long time I stopped caring about material goods (maybe since my trip to India ?). I am happy with the cheapest PC I find as long as it serves my needs. I hardly buy anything, so my money goes mostly into food and travel. Eventhough, I try for it not to be wasted and usually write online guides about the place I have visited or post pictures online (e.g. on wa-pedia.com and eupedia.com), so that it can serve for other people too (very unselfish and even altruistic use of money, I think). I am glad to have the Internet, and especially Wikipedia, so I can buy less books (imported books are quite expensive in Japan). I don't watch much TV, almost never listen to music anymore, dislike shopping and hate waste of money that can be avoided (esp. buying stuff we never use). That is because of all this that I say that money hardly matters for social class. I dress conservatively like an upper-middle class, think or have interests and hobbies of upper classes, but financially I am now more middle class, because I don't try harder to have more as I would not enjoy the free time I have now to cultivate and instruct myself. :-) And material goods are so much less important ! Indeed, iPods and other electronic goods are quickly outdated, clothes wear off or fall out of fashion, etc. But ideas and knowledge stay.

Tokis-Phoenix
Oct 5, 2005, 00:20
Hmm....An interesting thread, but difficult for me.

I know what it is like to be dirt poor and what it is like to be wealthy. I was raised in a wealthy family, i had a good education and all...
I have had to deal with many family difficultys throughout life, from my father being murdered 3weeks before my 6yr old birthday, my mum suffering manic depression and a compulsive cleaning most of her life, serious family fighting and issues between the 2 halfs throughout my life, my brother being a pyro maniac when he was little and suffering from ADHD/ADD and having to look after my mum and brother and the house from a very young age, i had to grow up very fast as a young child- too many issues in my family and near death experiences throughout my life i am uncomfortable i speak of currently.
When i was 14yrs old i had thoroughly decided i wanted to move out of home ASAP and made it my mission to do so, my mother used to pit me and my brother against each other by lying to us alot for her own enjoyment and using me to get at other family members and people she didn't like.
I used to get bullied alot at school because i was one of the first in my year to get spots(although they wern't bad at all when i look back at it now) and because i wasn't able to flaunt money around like all the other rich kids at school(i was sent to a posh/rich kid school) because although my mum was wealthy i never once got pocket money, i had to do hard work for any money and my mum was always cheating me out of my pay. I felt so bad once when a friend was complaining one day that her mum only gave her 30's pocket money a week and didn't buy her the dress she wanted last week, i realised i wouldn't even get that sort of money if i worked solidly for my mum on the farm for months- my mum giving my gifts such as dresses was completely out of the question.
So although i went to a posh school, came from a rich family with a big home, and should have been upper class, i lived a very poor life being bullied all the time, my mum never let me have friends around and because of her depression, she found enjoyment in making me suffer in many ways and i was never accepted by other upper class kids at school and neither by the middle clss ones.

When i moved out of home i left with no money at all, i lived with a boyfriend for a while who gave me 10's a week to live off. Some months later i was going seriously anorexic because i could barely afford to feed myself and my boyfriend, who was schitzophrenic(sp?) amoungst other things, constantly ground down myself confidence so i barely had to the will to get a job- it would have been pretty imposible to get a job too with the amount of subjects i was doing at college in an effort to please my mum.
The relationship ended some time later with him after he tried to disembowl me with a knife after he started seeing things, he continued to stalk me for months after that. I had been into drugs by then for many years, i had little will to live. My clothes were falling to peices and i often got drunk to escape my reality, even though i was only 16 at the time.
I had many bad relationships back then...But one day i met my current fiance at college. He is not the best looking guy in the world at all, but he showed me much kindness back then and we shared alot of feelings and things in common.
We started going out with each other after a very short amount of time and 3months later we rented out some shared accomodation and lived together.
The people at my first appartment were all lower class, my landlord and lady were an alchoholic couple that drank and smoked so much they were going senile and had vicious fights with each other every night- all the other people living in the appartment also had issues and the place was falling to peices literally- one of the beds fell through the ceiling once.
I guess at that stage in my life i was lower class although i was much better off than before, i had a job working at a scotch egg factory with loads of immigrant workers, my boyfriend worked at a hotel and we had enough money to always pay the rent and put food on the table and buy clothes and things.

We moved out some time later after the landlord tried to abuse me and other peoples social relations became unbearable to live with- one of the guys at the appartment got into trouble with a local gang after trying to sleep with one of the guys girlfriends while drunk, the gang then targetted our place and started throwing stones through our window for months even tho we had nothing to do with it etc- there are also too many similar events to list. A freind almost bled to death in my bedroom once after he broke in while high on pills and cut his arms to peices after smashing a window with his bare hands, don't ask me why he did it.

I quit my job when i moved to a new town with my boyfriend and we got our own appartment to rent in a secure location and he also got a new and better paid job. I concentrated on enjoying life more after some near death experiences, i decided to start spending time again doing one of my favorite hobbys- art.
I became a tattoo artist and illustrater for various things like books and artist in general, i would say i am very good at art because i have made alot of money from it, i now have my own house which i will move into soon once the decorating is finished.
I also hope to breed rare tropical fish as part of a living because i have been doing it for some time now although have only recently considered doing it seriously for money. I also get along with my brother well now days, although i have only recently started speaking to my mum- i hope to go into buisness with my brother and make a partnership with him soon.
I no longer do drugs or drink, although i admit i still smoke alot, and somtimes the superior herb although i havn't done that for some time now(can't be bothered)- but i am not concerned about that considering all that i have been through.
I would say i am now upper class because of my interests in life and how i behave. I would say i have good manners, my hobbys/interested include studying ancient culture and history of europe and asia, paleontology, archaeology, politics, writing and art, chillout music, and debating etc etc.
Although i came from an upper class family it did nothing to help me, i rose from being lower class and dirt skint to being who i am now.

One thing though- i would say it is very difficult for some people to admit they come from upper class backgrounds, that vast majority of people in england are lower class(like chavs and council estate people) and middle class people, i would say lower class people are far more predujiced against upper class than vice versa.
If you say you have money, everyone thinks you have had it easy in your life and you don't deserve it, or they just make you feel like an outcast for whatever reasons. If you say you are not wealthy, everyone imediatly accepts you and feels they have somthing in common with you. I know that some of the people i knew in the past would have never spoken or be-freinded me if they knew my roots, even though i was in no better situation than them at the time.
Ah welll "sigh"...

Revenant
Oct 5, 2005, 00:20
Hmmm....we are quite alike in a lot of respects.

I don't travel anywhere besides going back to Canada (expensive in itself). But I love debating, and even getting owned, to further my own knowledge (a debate of free will vs determinsim comes to mind, wherein I was argueing for free will using a common argument for determinism. Go me!).

Anyhow, the only other place that I differ is that I dress very casually, even for my job at Berlitz.

Interestingly, as goods became cheaper, and therefore easier for the average person to buy, people bought bigger houses to store all the goods, most of which they never used. Bigger houses equal bigger mortgage and more interest. I'll endeavor to keep my possesions to what I deem necessary for life.

I also watch little TV, but I always have my music running on the computer. I do have very selective taste in music, so I very rarely buy a new album.

Pachipro
Oct 5, 2005, 01:38
Tokis-Phoenix thanks for sharing your story and for your honesty. Very interesting to say the least. Even though you came from a wealthy family you never got share in that wealth and that is sad. I didn't know parents could be so cruel to their children, but I guess there are those like that in all social strata. My parents were no angels either.

I commend you for turning around your life and starting to persue worthwhile interests although, from your experiences, it's amazing you are still alive! It just goes to show that there is a purpose in life for everyone and maybe you have found yours the hard way. But then again, maybe you had to experience those hardships to be where you are at in life.

I wish you all the luck in the world in your businesses and to your new-found relationship with your brother and maybe with your mother in the near future.

Good luck and thanks for sharing again.

Tokis-Phoenix
Oct 5, 2005, 02:05
Thankyou pachipro for your words of kindness :bluush: .
Now days i try to be as kind to others as i can as long as they are good people at heart, i know what it is like to be in need of help when no one is there to help you, i do not care what social class my friends are from or are as long as they are good people at heart- i believe there is often not enough good people in this world and if somone would like to be a better person or is a good person but is in need you should always support them, whatever their class or social standing or past history may be.
As for my mother, she has done alot of bad things to me in my life time but i accept most of it was probably down to her manic depression and attention seeking. She isn't all there in the head even so, she did alot of things in the past which don't even now have much logical reasoning to their actions, like once when i was about 11yrs old a birth mark on my thigh started going bad- i was very worried because it started to bleed and go itchy and didn't heal, my mum did not listen to me for months while i tried to tell her and when i finally got the chance to go to the doctors they said it had gone cancerous.
The day before the operation to remove the cancer my mum was specifically told by the nurses to not feed my anything with sugar or salt in it, preferably nothing at all.
I did not know this being so young, my mum went and fed me 4 mugs of hot chocolate and 3 peices of toast with chocolate spread(although i was quite miffed as to why she was being so nice)- when she told the doctors this they were very angry, saying the anasphetic(sp?) might not work or somthing. Because my mum ignored me for so many months while i had the cancerous birth mark, i am now at a much large risk of getting cancer, and i now have to see the docter soon about a tumor growing on my chest, which is hopefully dormant "fingers crossed", although i will probably get it removed anyways.
But yeah, somtimes i am realy suprised i survived my childhood :relief: .

Pachipro
Oct 5, 2005, 02:32
Now days i try to be as kind to others as i can as long as they are good people at heart, i know what it is like to be in need of help when no one is there to help you, i do not care what social class my friends are from or are as long as they are good people at heart- i believe there is often not enough good people in this world and if somone would like to be a better person or is a good person but is in need you should always support them, whatever their class or social standing or past history may be.
I wholeheartedly feel the same way and I practice it whenever I can. Even if people have wronged me, I somehow find it in myself to forgive them as I feel that this is one of the reasons we are born into this plane of existance regardless of our, or their, class or social standing. A few times I have regretted it, but more often than not, it turned out to be the right thing to do.


The day before the operation to remove the cancer my mum was specifically told by the nurses to not feed my anything with sugar or salt in it, preferably nothing at all.
I did not know this being so young, my mum went and fed me 4 mugs of hot chocolate and 3 peices of toast with chocolate spread(although i was quite miffed as to why she was being so nice)- when she told the doctors this they were very angry, saying the anasphetic(sp?) might not work or somthing.
Wow! This would make me think that, heaven forbid, she wanted you to die or something! That is indeed scary. Maybe she needs some serious medical attention. I do hope she can overcome her illness if it is still afflicting her.


Because my mum ignored me for so many months while i had the cancerous birth mark, i am now at a much large risk of getting cancer, and i now have to see the docter soon about a tumor growing on my chest, which is hopefully dormant "fingers crossed", although i will probably get it removed anyways.
My fingers are crossed also and my thoughts are with you that it is just a benign tumor. Good luck to you.

Tokis-Phoenix
Oct 5, 2005, 02:49
I think most of what she did with the whole cancer thing was down to her attention seeking, she appears to be much better now days but i do not know her that well now days because i have only recently started speaking to her, she is a nice person when it comes to helping non-reletives out ironically, she is keeping herself busy right now giving charity money and stuff to the people of iraq suffering from the war.
She trys to act very posh though, she is very old fashioned in that sense- she often refers to people of the lower class as "common people" and realy looks down on them and makes stupid assumptions about them and other classes of people which she realy has no realy basis to make them on. It does bother me from time to time about the way she behaves, it did little to make my situations throughout life any easier, but also, she may have to move closer to town as she gets older and she is definatly not very streetwise.
Even though she has done bad things to me in the past i still worry that she might, i dunno, trip down the stairs and die and no one will find her for ages since the farm is very issolated. The local town has also grown realy yobbish recently and i get worried she might offend people with her posh ways and get into trouble.
ps: hope i am not going too off topic here, i will stop if i am.