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Class - America's dirty little secret?

 
 
patiodog
 
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Reply Tue 18 Feb, 2003 02:52 pm
Hmmm. I take class to be a subset of luck, but I'm really a bystander in this one and it's a semantic rather than a substantive observation, anyway.

And so, back to work, so I can keep funneling money back to the bank for stuff they bought me...
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nelsonn
 
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Reply Tue 18 Feb, 2003 10:57 pm
I never knew the class system in America was a secret.
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nimh
 
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Reply Fri 16 Jan, 2004 11:46 am
fishin' wrote:
nimh wrote:
Hmmm ... well, it's not so much my attempt at debunking the myth, but Gary Younge's that I picked up on. So what about his other piece of evidence: the research comparing the social mobility of parents / children in the seventies and nineties, that apparently shows an actual decrease in social mobility? [..]


Quite right.. Younge's idea.. ok.

Deciding what the "other piece of evidence" means is a bit of looking through a crystal ball. Without looking at the specific study and seeing exactly what was counted and how, it's impossible to determine what it actually measured. He doesn't bother to give a reference to what study he's talking about. In the article he mentions a quote from a Robert Perrucci. Perrucci has done several studies (this is his area of speciality..) but the numbers don't match anything Perrucci has published.


Found a citation ... he was talking about a study by by Earl Wysong, Robert Perrucci and David Wright, called "Organizations, Resources, and Class Analysis: The Distributional Model and the U.S. Class Structure". See here for more info.
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Portal Star
 
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Reply Fri 16 Jan, 2004 11:50 am
"Reality in the last half century has been quite different. [..] Comparing the incomes and occupations of 2,749 fathers and sons from the 1970s to the 1990s", a recent study showed that social mobility in America had actually decreased.


Does anyone have the actual study? The media tend to misenterpret results in favor of sensationalism. Not that it isn't true, I don't know that, but I would prefer to see the study.

Is that a large enough group?

Were they a random sample or all in one area?

Were they a random sample or all of one percieved class?
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nimh
 
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Reply Fri 16 Jan, 2004 12:33 pm
Portal, look one post up and you'll see a link to a webpage that has an exact reference to the study, with title and authors specified. That should make it easier to find the actual study.

Note, in any case, that the university where one of the authors teaches saw no problems in repeating the quote you mention on its website, without disclaimer - apparently, the university didn't consider the media in question to have "misinterpreted the results in favor of sensationalism", or it wouldn't have done so.
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rufio
 
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Reply Mon 19 Jan, 2004 10:38 pm
The reason no one talks about class in America, is it's more than money or income - people can jump tax brackets if they try hard enough, even with all the roadblocks. Of course, that depends where you start out, but it's been done. But just getting more money or a bigger house or moving to a nice neighborhood won't make you upper class if you grew up poor, and losing all your money won't make you lower class if you grew up rich. Just like every other subculture, it's a way of life that's vaguely based on actual realities but that doesn't strictly follow them.
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nimh
 
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Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2005 11:01 am
Quote:
Angela Whitiker's Climb

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2005/06/12/national/class/10angela.583.jpg

By ISABEL WILKERSON
Published: June 12, 2005
CHICAGO, June 10 - Angela Whitiker arrived early and rain-soaked at a suburban school building with a carton of sugar water in her purse and a squall in her stomach. It was the small hours of the morning, when the parking lot was empty and the street lights were still on. There she was alone in the darkness for the biggest test of her life.

If she passed, she could shed the last layer of her former self - the teenage girl who grew up too fast, dropped out in the 10th grade, and landed aimless and on public assistance with five children by nearly as many men.

She would finally be the registered nurse she had been striving toward for years. She could get a car that wouldn't break down in the middle of the Dan Ryan Expressway. She could get an A.T.M. card and balance her checkbook and start paying down her bills and save up for that two-story colonial on Greenwood that was already hers in her dreams.

She would never again have to live in that gang-run nightmare of a place, the Robert Taylor housing projects - where she packed a .38 for protection - or in Section 8 housing or in any government-subsidized anything. Her children could be proud of her and go on to make something of themselves too, once she proved it could be done.

But if she didn't pass. ...

Read on ...

A shortened version of this story appeared in the New York Times fold-in extra to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung on June 20.

I thought it was a moving, striking story that gives you a deep sense of the obstacles that are thrown in the way of moving out of your class - and the personal strength it takes to succeed, in spite of them. And that strength that it takes, itself, illustrates how much a reality class still is.

I couldn't find the story I read anywhere online until I discovered (by Googling the woman's name) that it was a shortened, retitled version of a longer, original report, which appeared in the New York Times reportage series on Social Class in the US. The whole series looks very interesting.
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nimh
 
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Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2005 11:14 am
In the same extra, another NYT article was included that highlights an issue of race and class. To read it on the NYT website you have to pay, but hey, it's the Internet, so here's a couple of places where you can read it for free:

In County Made Rich by Golf, Some Enclaves Are Left Behind (The Ledger Online)
In county made rich by golf, some enclaves are left behind (lawlibrary.co.za)

The existence of "unincorporated enclaves" that are subject to "extraterritorial jurisdiction" - in short, the municipality gets to apply its restrive regulations on you, but it won't provide you with, like, sewers or garbage removal, with county and town shifting the responsibility to each other, kind of baffles me.
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Thomas
 
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Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2005 11:17 am
Re: Class - America's dirty little secret?
nimh wrote:
What do you think?

As much as it offends my ideological bias, I think they're on to something. I don't care too much about income inequality, as long as poor can get ahead by being industrious, thriftful, and risk-taking. But this mobility is stalling and even declining, as the New York Times has documented in a series called Class Matters. And not only that, the Wall Street Journal has confirmed this in a similar series. (Subscribers only)This very much runs against the general spirit of their editorials, so observing them acknowledge it anyway strikes me as strong evidence that it's true.

The only quibble I have is with the concept that this is a collective (class) phenomenon, as opposed to an individual (status) phenomenon. I see no good evidence for that. But obviously my biases got the other aspects of this wrong, so I'm prepared to get corrected on this one too.
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Lash
 
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Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2005 11:23 am
Interesting issue. I have long had a theory on this, but will test it a bit and read more closely before coming back.

Still. Good topic.
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nimh
 
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Reply Mon 27 Jun, 2005 04:09 am

I read the full story last night. Gripping. Much in it reminded me of A. (which just goes to show it doesnt need to have nothing to do with race).

And just like Angela got her nurse's diploma, A. will be a published writer some day <nods>
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nimh
 
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Reply Mon 18 Jul, 2005 08:39 am
The Economist has an interesting survey this week: Degrees of Separation.

This is from the accompanying editorial. I think they're putting it very kindly still.

Quote:

America's great sorting out
The missing rungs in the ladder


Jul 14th 2005
From The Economist print edition

[..] This dynamism helps explain why America has been growing so much faster than Europe. The difference now is that the process is becoming slightly more clumpy: successful Americans are sticking together more than they used to. Once again, this is not a question of "two Americas" leaping off the map: there are plenty of boom-towns and, especially, boom-burbs in every state. And, no, there is not an obvious racial dimension either: many blacks are still doing badly, but Latinos, who will account for one in five Americans by 2030, seem to be being assimilated just fine. But it does reinforce a fear: is America beginning to develop more of a class system?

If the American dream is based on anything, it is on the idea that anybody can make it to the top. Does that square with the past two elections, where George Bush (Andover and Yale) has seen off Al Gore (St Albans and Harvard) and then his fellow Skull and Bonesman John Kerry (St Paul's and Yale)? The 2008 race might even be another dynastic contest between Mr Bush's brother and his predecessor's wife. More worryingly, there has been a flood of statistics suggesting that income inequality is now reaching levels not seen since the Gilded Age in the late 19th century.

In 1979-2000, the real income of the poorest fifth of American households rose by 6.4%, while that of the top fifth rose by 70% (and of the top 1% by 184%).
As of 2001, that top 1% nabbed a fifth of America's personal income and controlled a third of its net worth. Again, this would not necessarily be a cause for worry, as long as it was possible for people to work their way up and down the ladder. Yet various studies also indicate that social mobility has weakened; indeed by some measures it may be worse than it is in crusty old Europe.
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