I. The Genesis of Social Classes
A. All complex societies have some system of stratification which unequally ranks people. Social Classes grow out of a Division of Labor within a society: - somebody has to take out the trash - somebody has to repair our television sets - somebody has to approve loans at the bank.So there is a strong correlation between the type of work a person does and the amount of prestige that person enjoys and the amount of wealth a person accumulates
B. The Determinants of Social Class are: Occupation - Education - Income - A few people inherit large sums of money from their families. These folks are few in number, although it is true that the top 1/5th of the population controls over 50% of the nation's wealth - a lot of social power.
Upper - Middle - Working - Lower Class - The typical middle class child lives in a class subculture where he or she is surrounded by educated, cultivated persons who speak the language relatively correctly, enjoy books, music, travel and gentile parties. At school, the typical middle class child is greeted by a teacher whose dress, spech, and norms of conduct are more or less like his or her own. The environment at school is much like the environment at home: full of books, crayons, drawing paper, various developmentally appropriate toys, maybe a computer.
The typical lower class child lives in a class subculture that is as different from their richer counterparts as iff they were from different planets - he or she is surrounded by uneducated persons, who speak a lanaguage that is special to the social class, who barely read, and are unable to enjoy music (unless it is on the radio) and only travel to the funerals of their kin.
At school, the typical lower class child is greeted by a middle class teacher who may see an unwashed, unfed, unruly child who violates many of the educational system's rules. School is foreign and different from this child's homelife. - The behavior required for praise is unknown to the child - behaving in ways that are consistent with the lower class invokes punishment from the teacher - no support for education at home or in the lower class subculture.
The Relative Size of the Social Classes:
The significance of social class is this:
II. Budgets and the Use of Credit
Notice what this list doesn't include:
III. Marriage and Social Class
The Marriage Gradient - for men, income level is positively related to the probability of gfetting married. Men tend to marry down in social class. The proporiton of married men increases and income level increases. The Marriage Gradient suggests that men marry women who are slightly lower down the social class continnuum (younger, a little poorer, less educated). The pool of eligible mates decreases for women as they get older, richer, and more educated. The pool of eligible mate for men increases as they get older, richer, and more educated. Birth rate and Social Class - there are 94 births per 1000 women in the lower classes compared to 48 births per 1000 women in the middle classes.
Regardless of actual income - living within one's means increases satisfaction in marriage. It is indebtedness that causes marital instability - and the insistance of having more material goods.
IV. Work and Family
As we move further and further into a consumer economy, based solely on the purchase and use of goods and services regardless of need or actual benefit, conflict and disagreement about work (time spent away from family) will mount. Across all families and within any given family, more and more couples will torn between two domains - that of work and that of home and family.
The dilemma is simply put, work affords us money with which we finance our lives. It also can provide a measure of self-esteem, if we are good at what we do or see it as important. These are good things. Work also exacts a price on individuals and family members through time spent away from the family we are supporting, through energy taken away from family endeavors, through cognitive efforts spent on work-related concepts instead of the developing individuals in our families. Spend too little time at work and the family suffers - Spend too much time at work and the family suffers. Damned if you do, damned if you don't - so to speak.
The answer, if there is one, is to work smarter and jealously guard time set aside to family matters. You've heard the phrase, "I'm there for you". Being "there" means bringing all your faculties to the table when it is time to "be there". There are many fortunate children who have parents who nurture them every step of the way through life. There are many who don't - a child with two busy parents who find no time to consider the child, such a child might as well be parentless when it comes to family life.
V. Working Women in the United States
A. Reasons for the increase in the number of working women who are married, with children at home:
Effects of two paycheck families on traditional family life:
The last of the baby boomers - those born from 1960 to 1964 are the first generation of Americans that will not, as a group, increase their wealth relative to their parents. Inflation, a diamond shaped social class structure, an over administrated economy all share in the cause of this situation. Families have to learn to budget their resources in order to be successful today.