Perhaps an Effective Determinant of Success in American Society?

A multifarious, multicultural melting pot comprising miscellaneous people defined by status categories: income, occupation, education, family position, gender race, and class, constitutes the identity of American culture.

statusThis diverse population characterized by profound culture assimilates the U.S., embraces its traditions, and eventually amalgamates as a collective nation of citizens. Relinquishing their former traditional culture, various ethnicities become homogenous as they integrate into American society, incorporating conventions which facilitate the development of a new identity.

Each person in society sustains a special status, position, and purpose within the socioeconomic structure. From a sociological perspective, this unique framework which forms the aforementioned status categories reflects cultural background. Demonstrating the general perception of people relative to their interaction with others, status directly determines personal reputation, social mobility, and financial success.

Status shapes the differences in overall demeanor, attitude, values, ideology, religion, and lifestyle between people. It distinguishes individuals in society.  Hence, as with any social structure, advantages, and disadvantages accompany the differentiating status between Americans.

Ironically, these differences among people, distinguished by status, both unite and divide society.  Every heritage offers a unique blend of common values which amalgamates similar groups who connect with it. Likewise, similar groups share their differences to enlighten others with perspective. Cultural differences also provide interesting insight regarding the lifestyle of others, which fosters experience, knowledge, maturity, and wisdom.

Wealthier individuals receive access to formidable education, medical resources, and comfortable, salubrious living conditions. Other poorer classes, despite their personal struggles and limitations, remain more satisfied with a simpler lifestyle than wealthier groups. However, such differences also instigate conflict, a competitive power struggle between the dominant, sometimes prejudiced majority and inferior, often jealous minority who envy them. Furthermore, a narrow naïve misunderstanding of the numerous differences between societal groups inhibits adaptation among dominant and marginal groups. Neither group truly learns to adapt.

The vainglorious affluent classes generally take basic necessity and privilege for granted.  Living well beyond their means, it becomes inexorably difficult for them to assume a lifestyle without luxury. Many humbler underprivileged minorities strive for survival whereas wealthier people rarely remain content with their material surroundings. To illustrate such differences, the benefits plus liabilities associated with status, consider my position in society, as a relatively privileged upper class individual, prospective law student, and native-born Caucasian American.

My Position:
In America, an upper class socioeconomic status constitutes, “the very wealthiest Americans,” with earnings that transcend, “$145,099”, encompassing, “5 percent” of all American households (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2002a). Surprisingly, my father’s income exceeds this amount. Although my family currently lives comfortably, void of such hardship surrounding lower income households, our environment in no manner compares to the exceptional affluence and fortune which “superrich” individuals savor. Such a luxurious lifestyle seems unfathomable to the imagination of most Americans.

However, as the text asserts, upper class Americans remain, “wealthy but not superrich,” (Giddens, Duneier, Appelbaum, 214). After all, the 2002 median family income totaled, “$42, 409” for “two jobs” (Impact of Social Class on Lifestyle, 1). Yet, the word wealthy even seems grotesquely overstated. While our earnings reflect the upper class social position, we mostly live an upper-middle class lifestyle. Our status seems no different from the upper-middle class in many respects. Nevertheless, our family epitomizes the upper-class archetype as described on page 214. We definitely live well beyond our basic means.

Obviously, as the only son, my family witnesses tremendous privilege not typically available to other households fostering several siblings.  My father, the executive of a prominent freight forwarding business which involves exporting consumer products to countries throughout Asia, including Japan, Korea, and China, reaps unprecedented benefits from his lucrative exchange. According to the text, upper-middle class individuals include individuals like my father, “who own or manage their own business,” (Giddens, Duneier, Appelbaum, 215). Yet, his annual earnings supersede “$154, 498”; the specified highest level of household income for upper-middle class Americans. In fact, my father stands salient among the top “1-3%” who occupy upper class net worth (Impact of Social Class on Lifestyle, 1).  The profound prestige that accompanies his position as executive of A&K Forwarding, Inc., delegates superior professional status, financial reward.

However, my father, an erudite college graduate from Fordham University, barely possessed access to higher education. From a middle-class Irish-German upbringing, graduate school education heavily surpassed his parents’ financial capabilities. Yet, my father landed a formidable occupational position, as partner executive, immediately following college, witnessing the unprecedented opportunity of social mobility and achieved status.  Previously we lived in Katy, Texas, a small, rapidly growing suburban city just outside Houston. Related to the oil industry, my father’s business transferred down there in late 1989. We lived in a burgeoning residential community known as Cinco Ranch. Public education offered there compared with any remarkable private institution anywhere in the U.S. Obviously, real estate remains financially inexpensive in Texas compared to New York. Our former home, priced at $150,000, might easily cost $1.5 million if not more up here.

After high school, my mother and I returned to New York where we reconnected with extended family. My father continues to support us financially with his lucrative business concentrated in Texas. Fortunately, for him, our family remains most grateful. As the spoiled single child, he naturally accommodates my best interests. Due to his financial success, we presently reside in a cozy Westchester community, own two relatively expensive automobiles, and my father bestowed me the privilege of private education, at Pace University.  As a prospective law student, too few people experience such superior access to education.

My father invests about$30,000 per school year without accepting loans to provide higher education for me. He even appropriates funds for LSAT preparation, subscribing to a highly qualified independent course instructed by several prominent lawyers. Dad intends to facilitate my aspirations because he recognizes potential, and anticipates only a successful future for me as the first attorney in our family. Actually, fulfilling these lofty expectations renders me the first person in my entire extended family, on both sides, to even attempt graduate school, let alone law school. Therefore, the potential of surpassing my entire family at least in educational status, if not social mobility, and achieving enhanced, “inter-generational status,” seems more likely than not to happen for me (Impact of Social Class on Lifestyle, 1).

In addition to advanced education, a warm comfortable home with the luxury of books, music, exercise equipment, expensive living room couches, my own personal computer, queen-sized bed, stylish apparel, cellular phone, car, and television, among various other material commodities, such status also offers impeccable medical coverage. During high school, my parents afforded extensive orthopedic work, between braces, surgery, etc. to correct teeth and jaw alignment. Consider the overwhelming benefits of upper-class medical accommodation. Seasonal illness occasionally threatened my health. Severe seasonal allergies, susceptibility to pneumonia, respiratory infections, accompanied by sustained periods of illness, and several surgeries throughout the past few years, periodically imposed considerable financial burdens on my father, as we sought medical attention not ordinarily available for lower income families.

My medical bill alone fluctuates and often ranges well into the $1000s. Yet, the middle class typically receives accessible medical treatment and even professional psychotherapy for sensitive individuals who require mental attention (Impact of Social Class on Lifestyle, 1). While most middle-class income individuals possess access to quality insurance which enables proper treatment, limitations in coverage apply, causing extensive, near unaffordable financial constraints.

Meanwhile, the working and lower classes which collectively constitute roughly, “60-70%” of people in America, lack basic medical resources needed for survival (Fitzgerald, Social Stratification and Social Class Notes, 4).  Household income for this bracket ranges from, “$17, 970 to $33, 300” (Giddens, Duneier, Appelbaum, 216). The working class includes, “factory workers, mechanics, secretaries, office workers, sales clerks, restaurant/hotel workers,” among various others who earn, “a modest weekly paycheck,” but possesses minimal control over, “income or working conditions,” (Giddens, Duneier, Appelbaum, 216). The 2007 poverty line, based on “nutritional adequacy” equals “$20,000” for a family of four (Impact of Social Class on Lifestyle, 1). Poorer working class people who lack insurance, “wait for treatments until symptoms advance,” (Impact of Social Class on Lifestyle, 1). Unbelievable!!

The chances of survival seem highly improbable for a working class American who contracts pneumonia. Accompanied by severe fevers, and compromised lungs, their weakened withering immune system deteriorates without receiving the necessary medicine to panacea the illness, foreshadowing inevitable perish. Medical attention seems mainly inaccessible for most Americans.  With staggering infant mortality rates, “3 times higher among destitute Black children,” and transitory average life expectancies, ages, “60-62”  basic living conditions appear abysmal for working class Americans. No wonder, “25%” of all American children live in poverty (Impact of Social Class on Lifestyle, 1).

Social class status directly impacts, “marriage, stability, family size, sexuality, political attitudes, religious affiliation, participation in social acts, the criminal justice system, and philosophy of a person.” (Impact of Social Class on Lifestyle, 1). Obviously, poorer people remain financially unable to support a larger family, which may impose tension on marriage. Marital instability appears high among poorer Americans. High dissolution rates pervade poor working class environments. Some poorer lower class people may even lack the financial support to even get married. For upper-class individuals, marriage appears adequately stable.

Working class women and racial minorities particularly suffer status constraints even in contemporary American society. As a young, upper-class Caucasian male, my position derives particular benefits that exclude me from such constraints.  The U.S. still retains some degree of traditional patriarchal elements that inhibit opportunity for women. The conventional family unit, during 19th and 20th Century America, typically compelled gender specialization of labor. Women primarily specialized in maintaining the home. Their responsibilities entailed bearing/raising children, performing routine house work and chores such as cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc. In the 19th Century, women remained subordinate and subservient to men. During this period, wives subsumed their husband’s identity, relinquishing property rights upon marriage. Women also assumed a passive role in citizenship. They remained restricted from educational, occupational, and political opportunities.

However, in the early 20th Century, women acquired voting equal rights. The advent of contraceptives also catalyzed women’s rights. Thus, birth control and eventually abortion rights guaranteed greater democratic choice to women than previously permitted. Yet even today, though actively involved in both business and government related functions limitations still confine their roles. Entry and exit from the labor force to raise children inhibits their socioeconomic opportunities. Thus, women on average still receive only $.74 per every dollar a man earns for equal positions. U.S. estimates indicate that women receive “89%” of the thousands in salary which men earn (Gender 2007, Comparative Salaries). Nevertheless, women living in financially supportive upper-class households appear exempt from the typical problems that accompany gender wage disparity.

As in my family, husbands accommodate their needs.  As of yet, no female or African American in U.S. history ever obtained Presidential incumbency. Race also plays an instrumental role in status, since many marginalized groups, including African Americans, suffered certain societal restraints throughout history that previously prevented their advancement. Some poorer Black minorities remain socially immobile due to the past injustices of slavery and racial inequality which characterized early American history. Although less prevalent and to a more isolated extent than in the past, African Americans still suffer backlash resulting from their former oppression. As a young White upper-class male, my status secludes me from such problems and proves overwhelmingly advantageous to future success.

An upper-class status also bestows the benefit of generosity for individuals less fortunate. Individuals from upper echelons exhibit a degree of inquisitiveness, “responsibility, dependability, and autonomy,” unavailable to lower working classes. Their character exudes, “creativity, initiative, and leadership” (Impact of Social Class on Lifestyle, 1). Upper class status citizens possess the power to pursue community service initiatives and provide philanthropic contributions. We possess the capability to organize our own private committees that promote active civic engagement and community awareness. It remains our obligation as informed citizens to accommodate those in need. As in the poignant words of former President Ronald Reagan, “Life begins, when one begins to serve.” Active community participation proves an unprecedented benefit for empowered upper-class individuals to assist others. Such service may include volunteering for elderly individuals at residential facilities, offering services to homeless shelters, donating clothes and nonperishable foods. Other volunteer opportunities perhaps entails visiting school age children, and promoting Anti-drug/violence programs such as DARE, while possibly initiating a similar independent organization.  Even organizing a special educational event, such as reading books, to young grade school children, at the local library encourages profound social and community development.

Politically active upper class citizens possess the private influence to coordinate their own conferences and discuss pertinent, social/community-related issues affecting American society. The potential for public debate in addition to soliciting sponsorship from prominent politicians/government leaders may prove an invaluable non-partisan endeavor that facilitates betterment among underprivileged groups. Potential even exists to generate extensive attention from non-profit organizations, gathering social entrepreneurial support by establishing network connections with distinguished corporations and even small business companies who share a willing passion for preserving community offers inconceivable advantages for local neighborhoods.

Compassionate pursuit, collaborative incentives, plus consolidated enterprise designed to stimulate positive social interaction which ameliorate community standards represents the greatest advantage for high-status individuals. Therefore, status may facilitate success for working class communities, if channeled to promote the quintessential opportunity for its people, as guaranteed by our constitutional foundation. Hence, as a result of status, such private utopian efforts, targeting underprivileged citizens, serve to strengthen the community and epitomize the quintessential democratic values this brilliant nation advocates, facilitating their flourish in American society. Yet, despite these overwhelming benefits, a person in my position also incurs several liabilities related to status.

After experiencing such privilege for so long, people generally become somewhat provincial and even pompous, overlooking the relentless realities plaguing meek, less fortunate individuals. Greed inherently drives human imperfection. Exposure to material possession manifests this innate predisposition toward selfishness. Consequently, avarice tends to surface from excessive privilege. Consider this voracious avaricious manifestation of materialism as evidenced by peaceful, primitive culture. “The Gods Must Be Crazy” exemplifies this same self-centered inclination driving human desire when exposed to material possession.

It elucidates the natural tendency for materialism to manifest corruption, demonstrating its detrimental impact on a pacifistic culture; the Kalahari.  After all, these African hunter-gatherer inhabitants represent the utopian ideal of peace aspired by industrialized societies. Though extremely primitive, their society ranks among the earliest, longest surviving civilizations in human existence. When a coke bottle dropped from the sky, they initially accepted it as some divine unknown gift possessing special powers. They considered this bottle an invaluable possession. Unable to share the single bottle with everyone, some individuals became jealous of others who used it more frequently than them.

Hence, for the first time, violence fomented among this once peaceful group who never previously exhibited such selfish tendencies. Essentially, the video illustrates how no one in society remains completely immune to hostility, an inherent imperfection plaguing the human condition. Yet, in its powerful, poignant message, this video advocates the foremost importance of simplicity; learning to embrace life with unconditional content and satisfaction, despite circumstances.

While my demeanor always maintained a sense of modesty and utter respect for such simplicity, occasionally we all tend to forget the miracles that surround our warm, sheltered lives in upper-class suburban America. We all neglect the unparalleled blessing bestowed to us by our superior status and privileged position.  Sometimes insufficient appreciation of privilege, and the simple positive aspects that encompass daily life, becomes a serious liability for upper-class status. Living well beyond our basic means, a voracious desire to aggrandize our possession and exceed previous expectations negatively impacts the character of wealthier classes.

With this unappreciative disposition sometimes accompanies a negative disposition that manifests during stressful periods, such as illness, injury, unemployment, witnessing occupational or even academic related failure, including relationship tensions. Sometimes we succumb to stress and cope with it in a negative manner.  Instead of accentuating the good, people tend to emphasize negativity.  I occasionally caught myself when overwhelmed, reflecting only on the negative aspects of my day, complaining about challenges such as a poor test score, after long, rigorous study. Rather than praising my invaluable learning experience, the new knowledge assimilated thereof, I harp on these frivolous, inconsequential, and, meaningless occurrences.

Then I finally return to my senses and realize the gift of my upper-class American lifestyle. We often take such privilege for granted. For example, many underprivileged working class Americans lack electricity a chair, couch, or even bed to sleep on at night. Other Americans lack proper thermostat regulation to adjust indoor temperature during frigid winters and/or sweltering summers. Worse, many impoverished lower classes suffer homelessness. Earning less than, “$17,000” income, these individuals strive for basic survival (Giddens, Duneier, Appelbaum, 216).

Therefore, pessimism proves a major potential liability for individuals who share my societal status. We need to thank God for our lives, and reflect on the vast joys that life offers. Yet, people in this position, too often forget how well they live. Everyone of similar status seems to worry excessively about their current condition, when impoverished people, especially within other countries, truly suffer. Yet, these destitute individuals who exhibit superior mental endurance possess better stress management skills than people in my position. Ultimately, they manage to persevere and overcome such struggle despite their predicament.   Poorer people appear more satisfied with their basic survival, and especially grateful for their life, than people in a more privileged, socioeconomic status.  Their more humble, respectable demeanor offers stronger faith and moral character to cope with their simpler surroundings.

My cousin, a left-wing upper class atheist, faithless and shamefully unappreciative of our democratic society, epitomizes the corruption that results from material wealth. However, I love my cousin and despite his sentiments admire his kind, amiable character. Yet, sometimes he loses his ability to distinguish from the forest and trees. In his hypocrisy, he neglects the vast opportunity and status America offered to him. He forgets the national identity and good American people that fostered his financial success. For example, my cousin once claimed how despite his, “privileged position” he prefers to live in “socialist-communist Russia during the Soviet Union,” than, “America of now”. Again, the material wealth, power, prestige, and privilege that accompany upper class socioeconomic status tend to obscure perception in some individuals. They become pretentious self-centered and excessively engrossed in their crass, condescending demeanor, neglecting the opportunities that facilitated such success for themselves. As for my cousin, it all went to his head. His disgraceful deference in front of other high status family members references the potential negative attitude that surfaces when exposed to wealth.

Such differences in attitude and demeanor illustrate the corruption resulting from material wealth. Upper and middle-class people tend to discipline their children differently than working classes. For example, upper and middle classes generally exploit guilt to correct inappropriate behavior whereas lower working class individuals employ physical punishment as reprobation (Impact of Social Class on Lifestyle, 1).  The upper classes spoil their children, while lower classes maintain a sense of moral values, partially because they remain exempt from the overbearing corruption surrounding materialism. Working classes generally exemplify greater respect for authority as reflected from, “obedience, conformity, and politeness” (Impact of Social Class on Lifestyle, 1). Their humble subordinate status offers heightened submission to authority. William Chambliss’ prolific publication, “The Saints and the Roughnecks” exemplifies this difference in behavioral perspective between wealthier and poorer classes of people.

Differences in life experience between classes instigated disparate perception toward certain groups. For example, experience of “irate, upper-middle class parents,” who considered their son’s behavior nothing more than a mere, “prank” differed extensively from, “cooperative or indifferent, powerless, lower-class parents who acquiesced to the law’s definition of their son’s behavior,” (Chambliss, 156). Such differences in respectable conduct reference the corruption caused by material wealth, power, and prestige.

Since social status directly determines the attitude of people, a biased, elitist, and even prejudiced perspective directed against minorities presents potential liabilities to someone in my position.  Again, character varies extensively among different classes of people. Consequently, upper classes despite their potential leadership generally compromise the necessary, “obedience, good manners, honesty, and neatness,” of a truly whole person. The ambitious upper classes with their lofty expectations typically lack sufficient patience to interact with uneducated lower classes. Such impatience causes anger, discrimination, and ethnocentric sentiment toward individuals who fail to meet these higher expectations. For example, many minorities refuse to learn the English language. Their refusal to learn English and assimilate American culture irritates the majority upper class.

I tend to look down upon such minorities with contempt and opprobrium. It angers me that some service workers lack the basic language proficiency to understand consumer requests. They deserve no place in the U.S. These reprobates, particularly illegal immigrants who infiltrate U.S. borders, undermine our nation, with their refusal to adopt the culture, language, and conventions which define American society. Unfortunately, they receive positions that only our hardworking American citizens deserve.  Moreover, they not only steal occupational opportunities from our poorest American citizens, but expect us to accommodate their language, rather than learn English. To compound problems, they saturate fast food industry positions, and through their ignorance, instigate hostility even in daily interaction. Unable to understand English, their mistakes, confusing people’s food orders, irritate most upper and middle class Americans. This cynical, negative attitude toward certain groups represents a product of upper-class socioeconomic status.

My vociferous political disposition, a traditional libertarian, conservative ideology, also most reflects the corporate upper class disposition. It conflicts with the reversely discriminative affirmative action programs, socialist oriented welfare system that characterizes current American policy. Likewise, these programs outrage many similar upper-class Americans in my position. Therefore, a cynical discriminatory attitude that targets individuals instead of the flawed policies, illustrates another potential liability derived from upper middle class status. Our democratic foundation discourages such discrimination based on race, religion, and creed. Yet, our government encourages these unconstitutional measures.

Today, a more insidious inverse form of discrimination known as affirmative action, whereby businesses and private educational systems offer preferential treatment to racial minorities, including African Americans, Hispanics, etc., discriminates against the dominant majority society. In affirmative action, both schools and companies need to accept a certain number of racial minority groups, not for reasons involving achievement, ability, or aptitude. Instead, many Caucasian individuals of equal and often superior ability become obstructed from certain opportunities for exclusively racially motivated reasons.

Hence, such unconscionable behavior promoted by society, remains unconstitutional, since it violates the 14th Amendment which prohibits racially, ideologically, and/or religiously motivated forms of discrimination. Deliberately designed to accommodate certain marginalized individuals for past injustices, affirmative action represents a considerable problem undermining our democratic foundation. It inhibits equal opportunity by depriving Americans in both upper and lower classes of a particular position. However, rather than condemn the flawed policy, many upper and middle class citizens, including myself often tend to blame individuals who accept these programs. We occasionally criticize them instead of the government for replacing our opportunities. Why deny such treatment if offered?

Moreover, our government administers superfluous welfare and socialist oriented programs, rather than promoting vocational opportunities. These disconcerting socialist initiatives disappoint many upper class Americans. The government imposes heavy financial burdens on upper-class citizens, confiscating excessive funds from wealthier individuals, and presumptuously redistribute it for poorer, often “underclass” individuals, such as illegal aliens, who serve no purpose in American society.  Since illegal immigrants steal job opportunities from Americans, many more citizens, not to mention the appalling number of aliens who already receive it, need welfare for survival. Yet, welfare remains especially limited in a capitalist system.

After all, “a free lunch” never exists in the capitalist model. Worse, too many freeloaders exploit the welfare system to their advantage, illicitly receiving welfare while remaining unemployed. These loathsome, licentious leeches consume welfare, virulently feed off its system when not entitled to it, and deprive the good, hardworking, underprivileged poor of medical benefits, insurance, and higher education. Yet, the conniving conmen of America always manage to clandestinely conceal their fraudulent conduct and go unnoticed while impoverished, working class citizens witness decline. Thus, the poorest lower classes of Americans, with marginal availability of jobs and welfare, remain financially stagnant. However, again, as an upper class American, it becomes especially easy to generalize too often and direct anger against specific minority groups of people. Such negative overgeneralizations represent another potential liability incurred as a result of upper-class socioeconomic status.

An Invaluable Learning Experience:
Ultimately, this course proved an invaluable learning experience. It definitely reinforced my understanding of the difficulties endured by working and lower classes. However it also heightened my insight regarding the overwhelming differences in attitude between upper and lower classes. Yet, among all the vast information derived from my sociological studies, I never realized until now, a general lack of class consciousness that exists between people.

People follow their own “subjective” measure, or perception of social standing, rather than the definitive “objective” measure that determines class status. For example, most Americans, including myself, typically associate with the middle class. When asked to identify social class, most Americans perceive themselves as part of the middle class (Giddens, Duneier, Appelbaum, 215).  Until this assignment, I always considered myself an upper-middle class American.

Yet, my father’s net income and the social surroundings that accompany it apparently typify upper middle class socioeconomic status. Unless extremely affluent, people appear predominantly more modest than one might naturally anticipate. While the superrich maintain, “a highly self-conscious” perception of their, “uniquely privileged social position,” most Americans tend to deem themselves no differently from, “immediate family, friends, and coworkers,” (Giddens, Duneier, Appelbaum, 215).

For instance, many blue collar workers prefer to think of themselves as middle class rather than working class, while upper-echelon professionals, including my father, also consider themselves middle class. Since people seldom interact with individuals outside their social class, many individuals psychologically become inclined to perceive themselves, “like most other persons,” whom they also regard as “middle class” (Kelly and Evans, 1995). Rather, the middle class encompasses miscellaneous, “occupations, lifestyles, and people who earn stable, sometimes substantial incomes at primarily white-collar vocations,” (Giddens, Duneier, Appelbaum, 215). While the middle class once remained predominantly White, a progressively diverse, “both racially and culturally,” integration of people, it presently includes, “African Americans, Asian Americans plus Latinos,” (Giddens, Duneier, Appelbaum, 215).

The American middle class subdivides into two groups; upper and lower middle classes. The Upper middle class includes highly trained professionals, such as lawyers and doctors, corporate managers, small business executives, etc, with a household income that ranges from, “$83,500-$154,498” (Giddens, Duneier, Appelbaum, 216). The lower middle class incorporates, “grade school teachers, nurses, salespeople, police officers, firefighters,” and other skilled positions whose earnings range anywhere from, “$33,314-$83,499”. While these individuals maintain a relatively high status, their relatively low income determines the lower-middle class position.

In American society, a social stratification which subdivides groups into unequal distribution of resources, classifies people according to income, wealth, prestige, and power. It ranks people hierarchically based on age, sex, ethnicity, occupation, education, family position, and the four abovementioned attributes.  In a highly competitive capitalist climate, such as the U.S. the unequal distribution of capital separates individuals into class categories according to status. Hence, status brands people into these specific categories which assess their personal reputation, social mobility, and financial success. Ultimately, status, which influences human interaction and differentiates people, reflects cultural background, accentuating the unique attitude, values, and lifestyle it molds among various classes of people. However, as with any sociological system individual status incurs certain benefits and liabilities. Strangely, the differences associated with status tend to both unite and divide society.

Status features the unique and diverse quality of culture between people. Its multicultural elements establish a common ground for connection that unites many similar groups of people. Additionally, people who share their differences heighten knowledge and prudence for others, which thereby facilitate profound intellectual growth. Yet, a general lack of understanding toward various differences separated by status prevents transitional adjustment. This provincial perspective divides the general population. Wealthier individuals remain unable to understand the lives of underprivileged persons and vice versa. Both groups fail to empathize with each other.

Many humble destitute Americans struggle for survival while affluent persons, seldom satisfied with personal privilege never truly adapt to their plight. Surpassing basic survival, the conceited wealthier classes with their self centered motivations, exhibit a rapacious desire to aggrandize opulence. They take their luxurious lives for granted, nonchalantly neglecting the predicament of many less fortunate others. Meanwhile, impoverished individuals forced to endure exceptionally arduous living circumstances, lack accessible food, water, shelter, let alone basic education and proper medical resources deemed fundamental for survival in America.

My status alone along with the experiences derived from it, emphasize such strengths and weaknesses that separate different classes of people. Nevertheless, the overwhelming benefits that accompany status overshadow any weakness attributed to it. Ultimately, status may prove an effective determinant of success in American society, when harnessed to promote the quintessential opportunity for its people which our preeminent Constitutional foundation and democratic principles advocate.


  1. Giddens, Anthony, Duneier, Mitchell, Appelbaum, Richard, “Introduction to Sociology – 5th Edition”, 1991, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2005, Library of Congress, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  2. Lifestyle Chart – “Impact of Social Class on Lifestyle”
  3. “Gender 2007 Comparative Salaries.jpg”
  4. “The Gods Must Be Crazy Video” – Brief reference
  5. Chambliss, William, J, “The Saints and the Roughnecks”, Massey, Garth (Ed), Readings for Sociology, New York: W.W. Norton, 2000, 3rd Ed.
  1. Avatar of Jack Eason
    Jack Eason says

    Interesting article Michael. But to me as a member of society within a western nation, give me human individuality over status every time. Within the context of ‘status’ you speak about, lays class and all its contemptibility for others perceived lower in the social scale. 🙂

  2. Avatar of Michael W. Staib
    Michael W. Staib says

    Mr. Eason, thank you for your candid, cogent, insightful response. Frankly, I concur with your conscientious conclusion, despite any apparent contradictons concerning this article and my subsequent comment. I value the inviduality of people ALWAYS before status. INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM epitomizes those, LOFTY, LUMINESCENT, LIBERTARIAN values which distinguish our formidable constitutional foundation!!!!!!!!

    Nevertheless, I wrote this article, hopefully, as a sociological paper, one that analyzes the influences of wealth, materialism, & financial position, on particular individuals within American society. Anyway, glad to see that you appreciated my article. – Michael

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