Social Class: Working Class / Lower Class Pages 85-94 Read the introduction (page 85 up to ?Upper Classes?) Define: Social Class A social class is a category of people who share a common economic position in the stratified society in which they live. What indicators identify classes? ownership of property or wealth, amount of income earned, the level of prestige accorded to work, and so forth? What are the structural aspects of social class? Social class reflects the occupations we hold (or depend on), the income and power they give us, and the opportunities they present or deny us. What are the cultural aspects of social class? The cultural dimension of social class refers to any class-specific values, attitudes, beliefs, and motivations that distinguish classes from one another. What are the psychological aspects of class? The internalization of economic status in the self-images we form and the self-esteem we possess. These may also be seen as consequences of other aspects of class position. What facets of our lives are affected by our socioeconomic status (SES)? Our health and well being, safety, longevity, religiosity, and politics are facets of our lives that are affected by our socioeconomic status. Identify various ways ?social class? is conceptualized and defined. 2 formulations of social class are mentioned: It is a person?s relationship to the means of production that defines class position. People are grouped into classes because of similar incomes, amounts of wealth, degrees of occupational status, and years of education. The important point about the concept of social class is that life is differently experienced by individuals across the range of identified classes and similarly experienced by people within any one of the class categories. 3. What percentage of the population occupies the social class your group has been assigned? About a third of the U.S. population is considered working class. An official estimate says that 12.5% of the population is in the lower class (poverty); however, a more accurate assessment might indicate that it is closer to 20%. 4. What are the subclasses in this group and what distinguishes them from the other broad classes and each other? The Working Poor The label working poor refers to people who spent at least 27 weeks in the labor force but whose incomes fell below the poverty threshold. 20& of the nation?s poor can be classified as ?working poor.? Single-parent families are more likely to be among the working poor than are families of married couples. Younger workers, people who fail to finish high school, and people who work part-time are more vulnerable to being among the working poor. The Ghetto Poor The ghetto poor are mostly inner-city residents, disproportionately African Americans and Latinos, who live in poverty. The behaviors, actions, and problems found among the ghetto poor are often responses to lack of opportunity, urban neglect, and inadequate housing and schooling. Poor Women and Children The feminization of poverty is a painful fact that has resulted primarily from high rates of divorce, increasing numbers of unmarried women with children, and women?s lack of economic resources. 5. Characterize this group in terms of the patterns found in the following: Marriage relationships Working Class Marriages are becoming more like their middle-class counterparts. There are higher levels of sharing domestic and childcare responsibilities, as well as greater male involvement in home life. Lower Class Marriages are the least stable in the lower class. Men are often absent from day to day life. Because of a high divorce rate and widespread nonmarital childbearing, a third of single mothers and their children are poor. Parents and Children Working Class They tend to focus less on developing their children and more on letting them grow and develop naturally, play freely in unsupervised settings, and spend time with relatives and in the neighborhood. Lower Class They are the most likely of all families to be single-parent families. Single parents may suffer stresses and experience difficulties that most don?t. Extended Family Ties In the lower class, kin ties may be essential resources in determining economic and social survival. Grandparents, aunts, and uncles may fill in for or replace absent parents, and multigenerational households are common. Fictive kin ties refer to the extension of kinship-like status to neighbors and friends. 6. Read ?The Dynamic Nature of Social Class? (p.94) and note important points. Individuals may experience social mobility, movement up or down the social class ladder. Children who in adulthood climb upward occasionally find their relationships with their parents suffering as a result. Mainly because generational tension and social distance can occur. Marital relationships can be altered by either downward or upward mobility.
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