Daily Sociology Diary: Understanding the Social Class

Daily Sociology Diary: Understanding the Social Class
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Todd Schoepflin

I was once asked when I found out about social class. It turned out to be an interesting question for me. My response was related to my high school years when I started meeting people from the affluent part of my hometown.

My childhood was mostly limited to a small radius around my working-class and middle-class neighborhood. When I made new friends 7 years oldth class, it was easy to see that they lived in larger houses that were further apart than in my neighborhood, giving people more privacy. Several of my friends had above-ground pools in the neighborhood, and new friends had underground pools. There were wooden fences in the backyards instead of the cheaper chain fences I was used to on my street. We learned to jump those chain fences if we hit the ball on someone else’s property or if we ran naughty through the yards. Being close to peers with parents who had higher incomes and seeing up close that money flowed freely for these friends increased the awareness of my social class.

I have a specific memory of social class from childhood. I remember playing baseball in the park where I grew up. When the team arrived, most of the kids didn’t have gloves, so we shared the gloves with them when they played defense. It didn’t occur to me that the kid wouldn’t have his own glove. In those days, you could buy good quality gloves for $ 20 or $ 30 and repair them to last longer at a local store called Cinderella Shoe Repair.

I lived one block from the park, so I walked or rode a bike. One of my sons is now playing baseball on a court that is not within walking distance of our home. He and his teammates get off the field from the SUV. Each child on his team has his own baseball bag that will hold a helmet, glove, batting gloves and a stick. Dick’s Sporting Goods bats range from $ 60 to $ 400. While most of my baseball life took place in a park near my home, my son’s team travels to many fields within an hour’s drive. We are also enjoying a country tournament that is our family vacation. It was at Cedar Point in Ohio last year (with beautiful turf fields in a sports park) and will be in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina this summer. We organize chicken steaks and other fundraising campaigns to cover expenses. Cedar point
When I think of the social class, the school of high school graduates comes to mind as I learn about and cultivate cultural capital in the classroom. At school, I studied the norms of the academic community and the behavior of teachers. Outside of school, friends taught me to use the subway system in New York, which was an hour’s drive from school. I got to know different areas and learned to browse the city.

It was during a date at high school that I ate sushi for the first time and learned to use sticks. My date was a surprise that I had never eaten sushi before. During those years of graduate study in Long Island, I had many new experiences, such as visiting Hampton and being overwhelmed by the vast wealth. I had friends who worked at a party supply company. Sometimes I got along with them and helped to organize parties in a luxury home. Living in Long Island was expensive, so I needed student loans to pay my rent.

Even as a resident of New York State, attending two relatively inexpensive public schools to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree, I am accumulating $ 50,000 in debt for a student loan. Many years after graduation, I paid only interest. A good friend advised me to double my monthly installments to succeed on the principle, but that wasn’t in my budget. That’s the year I finished paying off the loan, just a few months before I was 50 years oldth birthday. (If you’re watching the debate on student loan forgiveness, check out this short issue by Charlie Eaton and colleagues about how student debt cancellation is a progressive policy, and Tressie McMillan Cottom’s recent opinion on how the vehicle was sold to us as social mobility turned into debt. machine.)

Since graduating from high school, I have returned to my native region of Western New York. My parents still live in my hometown of Niagara Falls, and I teach at the University of Niagara, right next to the city of Niagara Falls, so I’m still connected to where I grew up. Tourists gather at the majestic waterfalls and enjoy an exciting ride in the Mistletoe, but as you drive through the city you will see many vacant buildings, closed factories, dilapidated housing and poverty concentrated in certain parts of the city.

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Nabisco Factory, Niagara Falls

On the American side, there is a casino in the center of Niagara Falls. I remember the promises of economic separation when it was built twenty years ago, but those promises were never fulfilled. In the shadow of the casino is a former Nabisco Shredded Wheat plant with an impressive history in my hometown. I know what it means to come from a stigmatized place. I hear insulting remarks about Niagara Falls, and a local radio show about Niagara Falls police mocking the behavior of residents. I am outraged by this and I would like to emphasize that the people of Niagara Falls did not ask for the decline in production and the jobs lost as a result, nor is it their fault that Main Street has deteriorated and the people of the Love Channel have not really asked. Don’t ask the corporation to throw away chemicals in their neighborhood, destroying their community.

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Main Street, Niagara Falls

I’m always thinking about social class. I’m thinking about questions like what’s in your fridge, how many refrigerators are in your home, and do you have access to quality grocery stores? I am alarmed by the horror stories of people who have accumulated much higher student loan debt than I am, and the horrific stories of huge medical debts in our country, where millions of people do not have health care. Meanwhile, the super-rich are finding new status symbols, such as the so-called trophy trees, and billionaires have flown to the edge of space. Elon Musk, a $ 200 billion man who could become the world’s first trillionaire, is probably another Twitter owner who has secured $ 44 billion to buy it.

NF lottery mark esbThe last example of my social class awareness intertwined with race is that I was treated with respect and I didn’t feel inappropriate in almost all public communication. In the article, Karyn Lacy discusses her research on middle-class blacks who deliberately prepare and speak in a way that emphasizes their class status so that they are treated fairly. As Lacy concludes, it is difficult to live in a society that is constantly exposed to racism and stereotypes.

Judging from my relatively favorable position, I have been disrespected by social class so few times in my life that I only remember it twice when it happened. One time, going to the furniture store and the next time to the outlet selling expensive wallets and handbags, the workers looked up and down as if signaling, “You don’t have the money to afford what’s here. “However, these are exceptions to the way I am usually treated as a customer. The Lacy article mentions a study he conducted News This shows evidence of discrimination against blacks in housing. 2019 The published study is a clear example of the persistent and harmful existence of racism and classicism in modern society.

How has your life experience affected your understanding of social class and how has your understanding changed over time?

Photos with the consent of the author

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