Socioeconomic Class in the US-Determinant & Why it MATTERS GREATLY!

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  1. gmwilliams profile image84
    gmwilliamsposted 24 months ago
    In the late 20th & early 21st century, socioeconomic class is a determining factor as to whether one has educational & career opportunities.  Socioeconomic class is even more entrenched now than ever-whatever socioeconomic class one is born into-one is MOST LIKELY to remain in his/her socioeconomic class of origin i.e. if one is born rich, h/she will in most circumstances, remain rich. Conversely if one is born poor, h/she will remain impoverished. Socioeconomic class matters in terms of avenues of success.

    People who are born poor are less likely to attain educational & socioeconomic success than their more affluent counterparts who have boundless educational & socioeconomic opportunities for educational & socioeconomic success.  A rich C student is more likely to be highly successful than a poor A student who has little or no chances of becoming successful. Studies substantiate this.   Poor students no matter if they are gifted seldom, if ever, become successful-they remain as poor as their ancestors.  According to sociological studies, poor students only attain a very small modicum of success.   To believe that poor children achieve educational & socioeconomic success is an unrealistic pipe dream in the late 20th & early 21st century.  If one is poor, h/she WILL be poor for his/her lifetime.  The only classes who will attain phenomenal success are the upper middle & upper classes.  Even the solidly middle class won't be as successful as the two aforementioned classes.  Your thoughts?

    1. Nathanville profile image89
      Nathanvilleposted 24 months agoin reply to this

      It’s interesting that you’re suggesting that people in the USA are most likely to remain in the socioeconomic class that they are born in?

      If that is true for the USA then it certainly is a sad and depressing picture.

      I can’t speak for the USA, but life across the pond, in Europe and Britain, is a lot rosier than the picture you paint.

      In Britain people do move through the classes, up and down, so nothing is set in stone.

      •    My father’s side of the family were predominantly working class.
      •    My mother’s side of the family have been middle class for generations.
      •    My parents were lower working class, so I was bought up in a working class environment.
      •    My wife’s parents were upper working class.
      •    I and my family are Lower Middle Class.

      In Britain, everyone regardless to wealth (or lack of it) all have equal opportunity to a good (free) education until the age of 18; so everyone, regardless to class has an equal opportunity to do well at school and college, and get a good education to get a good job.

      1. gmwilliams profile image84
        gmwilliamsposted 24 months agoin reply to this

        That is reality.  Most people remain in the socioeconomic class they were born into.   Although in the past, a few lucky ones who were born into the lower socioeconomic strata advanced into more affluent socioeconomic classes; however, they were the MINUTE percentage.   

        There was more socioeconomic fluidity in America after World War II with the advantage of the GI Bill & more socioeconomic opportunities for poor people to become middle class.  However, in the late 20th & early 21st century, such socioeconomic opportunities for lower income people are scarcities.   Poor people in the early 21st century have a scant, even no chance of ever becoming middle class or above.  They are doomed to be poor for the remainder of their lives.    Only the upper middle & upper class will succeed & thrive in the 21st century.  Thank you for responding.

        1. Nathanville profile image89
          Nathanvilleposted 24 months agoin reply to this

          That may be the reality in the USA; but its not the reality in the UK. 

          I can assure you that in Britain, it does not matter what class you are born into you have a good opportunity to get a good education, get good qualifications and get a good job.

          I was born into the lower working class, but I, as many of my class mates from all social classes including those from the working class families, got a good education, good qualifications, and good jobs; many (like myself) becoming middle class families.

          1. gmwilliams profile image84
            gmwilliamsposted 24 months agoin reply to this

            Yes but recently, those who are successful educationally & socioeconomically come from AT THE MINIMUM solidly middle class families.  Children from lower class families i.e. lower class proper, working class, & the lower middle class have a scant chance of leaving their socioeconomic class.  The educational & socioeconomic opportunities belong to the upper middle & upper classes.  Children born into such classes have myriad opportunities to succeed at the highest levels possible while children from the lower socioeconomic strata have to settle for crumbs, even being marginalized in society.   Children from the lower socioeconomic classes have a bat's chance in hell to succeed no matter how gifted & smart they are- the ODDS ARE AGAINST them.

            1. Nathanville profile image89
              Nathanvilleposted 24 months agoin reply to this

              That may be true for the USA? 

              But it’s NOT true for the UK.

              As I keep stressing, it defiantly is NOT true for Britain.  In British Society ‘all’ have an equal opportunity to a good education, getting good qualifications and a good job, regardless to the  social class they are born to.  And in Britain people from poor background who are gifted and smart are just as successful in live as those who are born into wealthy families.

              You have to remember that the rest of the world is not a mirror image of the USA; that every country is different – so what’s true in America may not be true in other countries.

              1. Mike Grindle profile image95
                Mike Grindleposted 24 months agoin reply to this

                While I get what you're saying, Nathan, I don't know if it's fair to say that everyone has "equal" opportunities in the UK. In fact, stats and studies show that the UK has one of the poorest rates of social mobility in the developed world (though the situation is worse in the US), thanks largely to years of conservative austerity.

                The fact is, the child born to a wealthy family is always going to have a better head start in life (at least economically and career-wise) than a poor one. Some countries do a good job of leveling the playing field a bit, but I'm not so sure the UK could be considered one of them.

                Edit: although I will say the situation is not nearly as dire as OP suggests that it is across the pond

                1. gmwilliams profile image84
                  gmwilliamsposted 24 months agoin reply to this

                  It is DIRE.  Since the late 1970s, socioeconomic lines have become more rigid than it was before the 1970s.   A child who is born into a poor family has a slim chance, if any, of become middle class or better.  H/she is doomed to be poor like his/her parents, relatives, & grandparents.  It is especially DIRE in this century.   Poor children will be left behind.  They will become either slaves, prisoners, or cannon fodder for future wars-those are the facts.   Only children who were born into the upper middle & upper classes will thrive educationally & socioeconomically.

                  1. Mike Grindle profile image95
                    Mike Grindleposted 24 months agoin reply to this

                    "They will become either slaves, prisoners, or cannon fodder for future wars-those are the facts."

                    I agree that things need improving ,but I think this statement is just a tad extreme.

                    There will be always be obstacles to social mobility, but you can either despair or do the best with what you have and try to make things better where you can. While some may have to struggle more than others, no one is "doomed" to anything.

                2. Nathanville profile image89
                  Nathanvilleposted 24 months agoin reply to this

                  Yeah, it's not just the conservative austerity following the worldwide financial crisis 2008, I also remember all too well the conservative oppression of the working classes under Thatcher in the 1980s. 

                  Yep, while gmwilliams is painting an extreme picture of hopelessness for the working classes, I’ve been trying to point out to her that you are not doomed if you are born into a poor family.  Yeah, there are obvious advantages if you are born to a wealthy family, for sure; but being born poor doesn’t prevent you from being successful and wealthy in life.

                  I’m perhaps a little bit more optimistic because I was born to a poor family, and in fact we lived in a slum until I was 10; so a visit to my grandparents where I could have a proper bath rather than in a tin bath in front of a coal fire was a real treat.  In fact we were so poor that at one point we survived on nettle soup for two weeks.  I was also illiterate at 10, not the schools fault, as all my friends who lived in the same street could read; I was just a slow developer!


                  Yet, at 10 all that changed; my father became self-employed in gardening, we got a new home (a tied cottage) and for Christmas my grandparents bought me a 360 page ‘science book’ which I couldn’t read; a different scientific topic per page – and that was the catalyst that got me reading e.g. I was determined to read a page a day for a year; which at first was a real struggle, but after a year reading became easy - And from there the school was able to take over and give me an extra push to help me catch up; so that by 15 (just five years later) I’d moved from the bottom 6 in my class at school to the top 6 and passed enough of my ‘O’ levels (GCSEs) to get into the civil service and into the Lower Middle Class.

                  Looking back at my family history (genealogy) being a slow developer seems to run in the family on my maternal side; for example, my great-great grandfather was born to a working class family, but in spite his father being just a Labourer/ Collier (coal miner) they were able to afford to send their children to school, which was unusual for a Labourer in those days (early 19th century, before state education and before when schools became compulsory).   And although my great-great grandfather wrote in his diary that he left school at age 14 a poor scholar, not only did he become Middle Class in his professional, owning his own property and employing a nanny to bring up his children, but he was also a prolific writer (he published at least two books on phrenology).

                  Across the road from us is a person who back in the early 1990s was a single unemployed mother living in a council house and totally dependent on State Benefit.  Then in mid 1990s she and my wife both went back to college ‘as adult students’ to get the necessary qualifications for university and then both went to university together (as mature students) to do a degree in ‘Business Administration’.  Both graduated three years later; my wife used her degree to get a good job in Admin, while our friend across the road became a highly successful and highly paid freelance accountant; moving from the underclass (unemployed) to middle class status.

                  1. Mike Grindle profile image95
                    Mike Grindleposted 24 months agoin reply to this

                    Thanks for sharing your story. Nathan and I agree wholeheartedly that things are never hopeless. And as someone with dyspraxia, I can relate to the feeling of being a "slow-learner" growing up.

                    As a kid, I saw my mum go from a school dropout cashier to a manager working in social services, so I know first-hand that determined people can pull themselves out of poverty.

                    On the flip side, one of my first jobs after leaving state school was a catering role in a public school (that's a private school for any Americans reading), and I suppose seeing the difference between the two left something of an impression on me.

                    But yes, we should never let out class determine our future, and there are plenty of opportunities out there. I myself went back to uni a few years ago, quit my 9-5 and now travel while studying and working as a freelancer. I'm still working class financially, but I think I'm doing an alright job of living on my own terms.

                    I hope gmwilliams doesn't let her concerns about class become an obsession. And I would say that people concerned about these things to keep them in mind when it comes time to step into the voting booth.

        2. Credence2 profile image79
          Credence2posted 24 months agoin reply to this

          So, do you think that the rigidity of social class and the inability of one to rise to a higher social-economic status is not a problem?

          The rigidly of class structures creating opportunities for the few while discarding the many has brought more than a few nations to its end.

          What you present in the long term will be unsustainable.

          1. wilderness profile image95
            wildernessposted 24 months agoin reply to this

            It is a problem only if you can manage to convince everyone it is true.

            One of the errors in the whole concept is that the definition of the classes is mobile, always on the upward road.  What was middle class is now lower class, in other words, and that makes it difficult indeed to climb the ladder.  Take away just that one obstacle and the entire picture changes.

            1. Nathanville profile image89
              Nathanvilleposted 24 months agoin reply to this

              Yep, that sums up.

          2. gmwilliams profile image84
            gmwilliamsposted 24 months agoin reply to this

            It is a fact of life in the 21st century, the lower rungs of society will be left behind.  They will have no opportunities.  Only the upper middle & upper classes will thrive.

    2. tsmog profile image85
      tsmogposted 24 months agoin reply to this

      Interesting, yet kinda' statistically stating the obvious. One does not need to have any sociological background to understand this. It is quite obvious and believe me all members of all the classes know that by middle school.

      That is when a child makes a decision to how much effort they will place into getting an education, which is not only valuable, yet is key. A big factor in that choice is having a role model(s) to look up to either in the social network or even by reading. In other words it is up to us old fogies as much as it is the child.

      Of importance is those who guide them; i.e. parents, extended family, mentors such as teachers, youth group  leaders, and of course interactions with peers with their dreams too of becoming successful in their forming dreams as defined by each unique individual. Teens are generally not dumb or stupid. They are much more informed today than many think.

      A key is reading opening the doors to a vast world full of opportunity to better oneself as not only a productive and contributing member of society, yet one with success of achievement guided by their own unique aspirations and dreams for themself. And, they will of course pay taxes ha-ha which is reality.

      For instance my grand niece in a solidly middle-middle class family in the 5th grade loves math and is already in STEM classes. She is as familiar as I with the ability to use Google University and I am pretty fair at it. Interestingly that means she knows how to type, which I didn't learn until high school. So, she has a head start over what I achieved. She likes to read varied books from pleasure reading to stuff about the sciences.

      And, not oddly, down the block from me in a neighborhood pretty much upper lower class maybe lower middle class is Maria, a sixth grader, with the same aspirations as my grand niece, love of the STEM sciences, and love of math. She is particularly interested in NASA. Plus, from my understanding conversing with her on her walk home from school she is acquainted with Google University. She even has a slight advantage because she goes to a Charter School being closer than the public school. So, she is in a smaller class and opportunity to receive more attention than my grand niece. So, maybe things do even out.

      Anyway, yes, statistically one will most likely remain in their as you like to say socio-economic class to an extent. Why do I say that. If one moves from the bottom of a particular class to the top of a particular class that is 'progress'! And, importantly, quality of life improves and hopefully becomes or continues generational to their children who then take a leap of their own jumping into a higher class.

      In other words progress is not always with a snap of the finger making a jump with a boundless leap like an athlete or even a Rapper may do. Those are the ones that don't fit the statistics, yet are a reality.

      Just for giggles, there are tons of websites just for fifth and sixth graders as was demonstrated to me by my grand niece. Peek at this landing page for 'Learning Websites for fifth grade'. … ifth+grade

      And, this link is what NASA provides for elementary school kids. Think STEM. … dards.html

    3. tsmog profile image85
      tsmogposted 24 months agoin reply to this

      Yes, you are right the trend recently in at least the last decade in upward mobility in the U.S. is not what it was in earlier years. But, why is the question? Is it because of lack of education? Is it because of lack of opportunity? Is it because of cost like moving to where there is opportunity? Is it because it is class stratified not only by income, yet race, gender, ethnicity, or others? Why is the question for me not the condemning of individuals perhaps born into a carefully laid stratum by some government bureaucracy or sociological studies.

      Personally with my life experience I was upwardly mobile achieving more than my  parents in some ways. So, did my brothers and sisters. I don't have kids, though my brothers and sisters did and they are all college graduates whereas my brothers and sisters were not. And, those nieces and nephews just starting their careers are earning more than I was when I retired in equivalency. Most certainly providence says they will advance in their careers and financially too.

      Yet, we all remained in the middle class one of three classes - Low income, middle income, and upper income. Perhaps, if there were more classes there would be seen more upward mobility. I mean the middle class is vast is it not?

      Also, one thing to consider is, yes, the middle class is shrinking, but the upper class is growing according to studies. It increased by 14% in 1971 to 2021 at 21%. That is revealing to me. However the low income class also has grown, though at a rate less than the growth of upper class.

      So, yes, upward mobility 'seems' to be of naught in one sense, though is limited by definitions is it not? As said the middle class is vast compared to upper and lower classes. In other words it is a larger playing field. Also, one must consider is quality of life improving, even though income is not increasing by leaps and bounds. I mean everyone owns a smart phone today, right? I don't think there are many homes without a computer, however internet access may be lacking, which is not because of the individual yet the free market system.

      When looking under rocks for spiders one must consider there may be a lizard surprising us with new knowledge through discovery.

      1. gmwilliams profile image84
        gmwilliamsposted 24 months agoin reply to this

        Yes, the middle class is vast.  There are three categories of middle class- the lower, the solidly or middle tier, & the upper.   Life quality is improving because of mass production & the targetization or discounting of America.   However, in spite of the improvements, it will be the upper middle & upper classes who will thrive because they have the means to be educationally & socioeconomically proficient.

        Yes, the upper class has grown because they have the specialized skills, education, or risk tasking skills which are needed.   Those who lack the education, skills, etc. are filling the ranks of the lower class.  Yessss..... The upper middle & upper classes will rule America while the lower class will be slaves & cannon fodder.  Yes, the lower class will be disposable more or less.

  2. Stephen Tomkinson profile image90
    Stephen Tomkinsonposted 24 months ago

    What is happening these days seems to be an unintended consequence of Neoliberalism. The idea that free markets guarantee individual freedoms may well be true but applying neoliberal principles to other aspects of society has, ironically, left people adrift. I've just published an article about this should anyone wish to read it after this shameless piece of self-promotion.

    1. Credence2 profile image79
      Credence2posted 24 months agoin reply to this

      Steve, I am captivated by your article "Wild Predictions that have gone wrong". The topic has always been of interest to me and I am anxious to share my observations with you. I can't comment on the article so directly so I will comment soon here, if that is ok?

  3. Stephen Tomkinson profile image90
    Stephen Tomkinsonposted 24 months ago

    Of course, Credence. I'll look forward to it.

    1. Credence2 profile image79
      Credence2posted 24 months agoin reply to this

      Thanks, Steve

      I refer to it as the History of the Future … the-Future

      For a footnote.......

      I wanted to add that Jules Verne in one of his novels, Paris in the 20th Century (1960) spoke of what passed for an "internet" used by one of the characters in this novel. This novel was not published until after the death of Verne in 1905. This Internet was based upon some clever use of the telegraphy technology available at the time as the "wireless" was still decades away.

      Also while at a Colorado University in 1975, I stumbled upon a Popular Science article that was heralding the development of TV-typewriters. Quite a far fetched idea at the time, but look how it changed everything, since.

      I also remember messing around with the "Naturally Speaking" technology for voice recognition in the mid 1990s. It was clumsy, as you had to program the system to respond to your specific voice and enunciate in a way that was anything but naturally speaking. It got the words transcribed incorrectly most of the time. At the time, I said this was a waste of money. Yet, so much for that prediction.

      My prediction about the petabyte revolution was in error. I did not conceive that people would be storing vast amounts of data in the ether (cloud), so the storage capacity need not be with your computer. Also, a petabyte is a tremendous amount of data, we are talking "Library of Congress", here. I can't imagine most people needing more than 10 terabytes, let alone 1000. It would be like having a 747 jumbo jet parked in your driveway.

      Sorry, Grace, to hijack. I just find so few people interested in the many obscure thing s that captivate my interest.

      1. gmwilliams profile image84
        gmwilliamsposted 24 months agoin reply to this

        No problem, I love obscurity.


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