The Appearance of Social Classes after World War II

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The idea of “social classes” is predisposed as an awkward subject among Americans; therefore it is rarely talked about because it makes people uncomfortable. Generally when interviewed, people claim there are no classes in the area where they live (Fussell). Class and status are two completely different things because status associates a range of things and class is simply a unit (Goldschmidt). Americans often give away their class merely by the criteria they use to define what the word “class” means (Fussell). The United States’ ideology of a classless society has changed immensely over time. In modern-day America social class is concerned in everything from the diversity of citizens, mobility, and political issues. A class society is “one [a society] in which the hierarchy of prestige and status is divisible into groups each with its own economic, attitudinal, and cultural characteristics and each having differential degrees of power in community decisions” (Nisbet). Class in the modern-day United States of America is difficult to define. As guilelessly put by R.H. Tawney in his book Equality, “The word ‘class’ is fraught with unpleasing associations, so that to linger upon it is apt to be interpreted as the symptom of a perverted mind and a jaundiced spirit” (qtd. in Fussell). The three most commonly known classes in the United States society are upper, middle, and working. Factors used to determine class among people include: “rank, tribe, culture, taste, attitudes and assumptions, source of identity, system of exclusion, and simply money” (Scott and Leonhardt). It appears as though a person can sense when he or she is among members of his or her class; almost as if the two people are connected automatically. The idea has b... ... middle of paper ... ... Quarterly 124.3 (2009): 391. History Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 14 March 2011. Aronowitz, Stanley. How Class Works. New York: Vail-Ballou Press, n.d. Print. Domhoff, G. William. “Power in America: The Class-Domination Theory of Power.” Who Rules America?. Professor G. William Domhoff, April 2005. Web. 14 March 2011. Fussell, Paul. “A Touchy Subject.” Pbs.org. Public Broadcasting Service. n.d. Web. 14 March 2011. Goldschmidt, Walter. “Social Class in America—A Critical Review.” American Anthropologist 52.4 (2009): 483-498. Web. 14 March 2011. Nisbet, Robert A. The Decline and Fall of Social Class. California: University of California Press: 1988. Samuel, Larry. Rich. New York: AMACOM, 2009. Print. Scott, Janny, and David Leonhardt. “Shadowy Lines that Still Divide.” Nytimes.com. The New York Times Company, 15 May 2005. Web. 15 March 2011.
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