Topic 12 - Work and Home
All complex societies have some system of stratification which unequally ranks people which is generally known as social class.
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.
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.
Occupations - some occupations (careers) carry more prestige than others. Usually higher prestige means higher salaries - but not always: Similarly - Higher paid occupations generally require more education, though not necessarily in every case. While becoming a physician requires eight additional years of education after high school, becoming an entertainer or union president requires much less. The kind of education we receive also says something about our social class - anybody who could spend four years in college (whether or not they get their way paid) is obviously in a preferred position of higher status.
Social Class Consciousness - we are very aware of our standing in the community in terms of social class. While all citizens of the United States are equal in the democratic sense, some are more equal than others. Our Occupation, Education and Income imply a lifestyle, something about family background, special responsibilities- , and certain privileges that are enjoyed. We use our social status to get us things - we wear status symbols as a means of recognizing membership in our class. Since we all look alike basically under our clothes - we use cars, opulent surroundings, special and expensive clothing, etc. - to dress according to our class. After all - the rich can smell different from the rest of us if they want to - they spend more time on THEMSELVES - pedicures, pretty feet, skin treatments, time on the golf course, spend less time doing the dirty work of life.
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, speech, 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 if they were from different planets - he or she is surrounded by uneducated persons, who speak a language 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 home life. - 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:
2004 HHS Poverty Guidelines
SOURCE: Federal Register, Vol. 69, No. 30, February 13, 2004, pp. 7336-7338.
One way to think about social class is to consider what their income purchases.
During the emergence of the industrial economy, paid labor became a primary source of income and the essence of the meaning of work. What women did in the home was no longer defined as work. Since the rise of industrialization, there has been a tendency for “his” work to be paid labor outside the home and “her” work to be that of the homemaker. This is not to say that all homemakers loathe what they do, but a great number of women have not found the role to be adequate to their needs.
Patterns of work have changed.
At the turn of the century, only about one in five adult women were in the labor force. Today, more than half of women aged sixteen and above are now in the labor force. While the participation of women has been steadily going up, that of men has been steadily going down. Some women are in jobs and some are pursuing careers. Women have opted for worker - as well as homemaker - roles. Some women who work have jobs; others are in careers. The distinction between job and career leads to the important distinction between dual- earner family and dual-career family. The dual-earner family is one in which both spouses are involved in paid work, and one or both view the work only as a job. In the dual-career family, both spouses are engaged in careers, which means that both are committed to employment that has a long-term pattern of mobility. With a declining proportion of men in the labor force, a growing emphasis on egalitarian marriages, an increasing number of women who work outside the home and contribute to the support of the family, and a decline in the proportion of Americans who believe that women rather than men should take care of the home. In spite of the progress toward equality, wives who work outside the home are still likely to spend substantially more hours than their husbands on housework.
The Pay has dramatically changed
Since the middle 1970s, while the number of dollars represented by the family paycheck has increased, the actual buying power of the family pay check has declined. The reason for the decline has, in large part, been the result of the forced decline of labor unions. While the number of people employed by labor unions never reached higher than about 35% of all employed person in the U.S. in the 1950s, the unions had a buoyant effect on wages in general because such workers could afford to purchase "luxury" items and had disposable income to spread around the economy. Beginning in the late 1970s, conservative forces in the economy and government assaulted the labor movement in order to reduce the cost of labor to the industrial economy. This long term action widened the gap between the rich and the middle class, between the middle class and the working class, and between the working class and the poor. (the difference between that $2,000,000 average income for the very rich and the $75,000 average income.
Coupled with the deregulation of the credit industry, allowing families spend more money than they make and to feel richer than they actually are, has served to pack the middle class while making everyone but the two top income brackets less affluent. How Credit Card Interest Works - http://www3.uakron.edu/witt/flm/credit.htm
II. Budgets and the Use of Credit
Families can combat these forces and maintain both a higher standard of living and reduce the chances that they will end up in poverty one day.
It all begins with living within one's means - actually living somewhat below one's means. A family of three or four should not feel safe unless in has at least six months income in savings, plus insurance for all members, and a plan for retirement (when income becomes fixed). With savings in mind, think about a realistic budget:
Example Monthly Budget - Family of Three
Prop. Tax $250
Home Repairs $50
Health Ins. $600
Life Ins. $50
Car Ins. $200
Nat. Gas $100
Car Payment $500
Vehicle Regis. $10
Car Maintenance $40
Cell Phone $85
Other Savings $200
Credit Card Debt$200
Notice what this list doesn't include:
III. Marriage and
Working Women in the United States
Married women who work outside the home face the prospect of less leisure time for themselves and less leisure time than their husbands have. One motivation for married women to work outside the home is clearly economic. Like men, however, women work for a variety of reasons other than economic, including the power that is gained.
2. The Women's movement, working off of the momentum of the other civil rights movements of the 1960's have illuminated the differential treatment of men and women.
3. Geographic mobility of the average family in the U.S. has led to isolation of the nuclear family.
4. No-Fault Divorce - disallows financial support for divorced women in theory.
5. Fluctuating employment rates - unemployed husbands
There are more
dual-earner families in America than single-earner
There are different types of dual-career families and differing structural arrangements, perhaps the most radical of which is the commuter marriage.
There are a number of challenges of dual-career families
In spite of what might be regarded as a gloomy picture, there are a number of satisfactions in the dual-career family, including benefits that relate to the need for a sense of control over our lives and benefits to the family generally as well. The potential satisfactions, rewards, and problems of the dual-career family are great.
There are various problems
and challenges faced by dual-earner couples, including
the effects on marital satisfaction.
Symbolic interactionists talk about role-making, the
process of working out the nature of particular roles in
the course of interaction. As the number of dual- earner
families has grown, the issue of role negotiation has
become more important. If you are in a dual-earner
family, you are at greater risk for separation and
divorce, but marital satisfaction among dual-earner
couples is common. The dual- career family, which poses
somewhat greater challenges than that of dual-earners,
can also have a high degree of marital satisfaction.
Saving for Specific Things: http://www3.uakron.edu/witt/flm/saving.htmA note about Inflation:
Saving for the Future - Retirement: http://www3.uakron.edu/witt/flm/future.htm
How Inflation Works: http://www3.uakron.edu/witt/flm/inflation.htm
66 Ways to Save Money: http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/money/66ways/index.html
This means if you made $10,000 in 1964 you would have to make $50,00 a year to have the same standard of living. Every single item of goods and services for sale in the country is increasing in cost right along with inflation. 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.
Meaningful work is one of the crucial bases of our well-being. More and more Americans are expecting their employment to be fulfilling to them. The effects on life satisfaction of one or both spouses working outside the home are somewhat different for men and women. On the whole, men and women in dual-earner families do not differ from those in single-earner families in overall life satisfaction. Having the option to work outside the home is important for wives. On the whole, wives who work outside the home are mentally and physically healthier than those who do not. Given an equitable relationship and agreement about work status, the partners in a dual-earner family will still benefit from using certain coping strategies to deal with various problems.