Terms used to describe socio-economic status include upper class, middle class and lower class. To me, upper class means people who have much power and belong to the elite of society. According to Ferris and Stain, people of the upper class are “often highly educated, cultured and influential” (197). I agree with that. They have a thorough impact on the economy, politics and culture of the country. Besides, upper-class people are the wealthiest ones. Because of their wealth or the alleged capital, they are called capitalists. They usually take high positions in the workforce, being predominantly executives in different industries. Furthermore, they control the largest corporations and so they are “rich people who control far more than their personal wealth. They control the wealth of the nation…” (Zweig 132).
Middle class are people with middle income to me. These people live for wage, but their life is pretty comfortable. Middle call members can be professionals, supervisors or small business owners. They resemble workers because they are not self-employed. However, they have the degree of autonomy that the working class does not possess. Having enough money and autonomy, they can afford to live comfortably and spend their vacations with pleasure.
Lower class consists of hardworking and dependent people to me. Working class are people who are always supervised and have no control over anyone. They can take different occupations and most often they choose unskilled, temporary and seasonal jobs. These people know their job and do it with no questions. They have little power or authority.
These socio-economic differences are reflected in popular knowledge in an unrealistic manner. Instead of thorough analysis and showing realistic images of social classes media “plays class differences for lauh” (Kendal 139). What media tells people about the class is that the worth of the person equals his or her possessions. In media, rich are always rewarded, and poor are punished. Media show rich people as successful and make people identify with wealthy. MTV contributes a lot to that trend. This music channel airs the shows that reflect all the benefits of the wealthy life. TV-show My sweet 16 demonstrates the parties that only rich teenagers can afford. These parties gather many friends, and they have fun with no adult supervision. One whose birthday it is can afford any entertainment and receive expensive presents. This show depicts luxuries unaffordable to many. Meanwhile, MTV show Cribs displays the apartments of the stars. Their houses impress with size, design and rich decoration. Teenagers who watch shows like these are likely to resemble what is shown on the screen. They want to identify with the wealth and do not want to listen about the poor. Media does not like to show poor people. The reason is “low wages, lack of benefits and hazardous working conditions are considered boring and uninteresting topics…” (Kendal 141). Poor people have a negative image and media state it is their own fault. Poor people are shown as dumb and not intelligent. They have worse clothing, manners and speech patterns than rich do. It may not always be true because a person can be rich and then go bankrupt and become poor. As a result, media do not mirror society; they shape the society. Media has an impact on how people perceive class and spend their money.
From my own experience, I can say that social class plays an important role in alive of individual. Social background determines the attitude to the education. Since I come from the middle social class, I always had a desire to get a higher education. Both of my parents have college education, and they have always taught me about the importance of knowledge. In Chinaa, where I come from, the levels of social mobility are rather low. There is no idea of American dream, so people know they will live their entire life in the same status. Hence, poor remain poor and rich remain rich. Since I belong to the middle, I have rather high expectations from my education. There are few institutions in China that provide good and qualified education. So, I decided to go to the United States to study. Still, my social background determines my surrounding. I tend to develop ties with classmates of similar origin. I am likely to make friends with the people of the same cultural background. Apart from my future career prospects and surrounding, my social background influences my preferences in personal relationships. I want to find a partner of the same or higher social status. For some reason, people of the working class do not attract me.
In terms of symbolical interactionism, social status is reflected in different symbols – “our clothing, our speech, our gestures, the cars we drive, the homes we live in, the things we do on vacation” (Ferris and Stein 204). Besides, the social class is about the lifestyles the income can buy. I think that symbols associated with upper class include a mansion or penthouse apartment, designer fashionable clothes, jewelry, or luxury car, swimming pool and home with electric gates. As for their lifestyle, upper-class members are associated with first-class travel, children attending private school and holiday home abroad. Symbols associated with middle class are private house, one or two cars in the garage, and trendy clothes. As for their lifestyle, the marks include visiting museums, theaters and studying in good colleges or universities. Symbols associated with working class are crowded houses, shabby clothes, and old cars. As for their lifestyle, working class is associated with watching much TV, obesity and exhaustive work with little time for rest.
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