Class Awareness

Today Caroline Calloway- *pause*

CC. Hmm… Did you know that she legally changed her name at age 17 using her middle name as her last name? It really is a pretty alliteration…

Anyway! *deep breath* She discussed class and privilege today on Instagram (Sunday). And, now I’m thinking about it too…

Months ago (before I altered my blog) I wrote a very long, detailed post with references to (reputable) online journal articles and used lots of numbers to create broad and complex definitions of each social class in the US. My father was going to be an anthropology professor but decided against it. He completed his bachelors degree in sociology and anthropology though and was a favorite of his professors. So, I grew up hearing a lot about social classes and the history of class. It intrigued him. He was also a hippie (and socialist) until the early 1970’s…

Here’s my super abbreviated take on class (I was also a history major/minor and political science major in college for five years): There are three classes. The top of the heap, which is the upper-class, can be divided into two groups. The middle of the heap can be divided into three groups. AND the lower class is also basically two groups.

The upper: Financially there’s the group who have a net worth of less than $100 million and there’s the group who have a net worth of over $100 million. Now, socially describing social class…is extremely complicated. I won’t even bother touching on that facet right now because as I’m writing this it’s very late and I could write a book about it. Another time. But, getting back to the money let’s just say that if you’re net worth isn’t at least 2.4 million US Dollars you’re most likely from an upper-class family and you’re “unique”, “an impoverished aristocrat”, you’re at least fairly young/sort of youngish (under 50 for certain) or…you’re just simply not in the upper-class. …Also, it’s flipping hard to truly get into the upper-class (based on the social aspects). Keep that in mind when reading the previous thoughts on this class.

The middle is not easy to quickly describe. I can say that if you’re not earning over $100,000.00 a year you’re not in the upper-middle class for certain unless you’re younger than 30 (or you were born into a firmly upper-middle class family and you’re younger than 40) or you’re single and younger than 50 and earning above $65,000.00 or you’re older than 50 and have a decent retirement savings and you’re earning over $65,000.00. That being said, the middle-middle is somewhat nebulous… At what point does one climb from the lower-middle to the middle-middle? Perhaps if you’re making over $30,000.00 a year and you’re single you’ve entered the middle-middle class unless you’re old and without a retirement? The lower-middle is anything before actual poverty…. I’d include the working-class in with the lower-middle. But regardless, there’s some measure of safety and stability to your life provided by your resources if you’re in the middle-class. At least, there should be.

Poverty. The lower-class is poor. But there are two kinds of poor. There’s “how-in-the-world-are-you-alive?” Poor and “I’m-going to-make-it-somehow” Poor. The first tends to be chronically homeless or deeply impoverished. The second might be temporarily homeless or be working towards finding stability in some way but they’re just not quite in the working-class yet. They just need that bit of assistance from someone for a while and they’ll eventually push themselves into the lower-middle class. The border between poverty and the lower-middle class in the US is partly where the government stops offering aid, but placing government financial assistance in a class context is complicated by people who fit in with the middle class in every other way but don’t have nearly adequate financial resources… There are plenty of very well educated people (numerous degrees) who can’t buy groceries, unfortunately, and it’s been like that for far too long in the US.

Anyway! The Pew Research Center made a calculator. Use it if you’re curious to see where you might be. And I say “might be” because I find class more nuanced than just a salary and location (as I’ve said), but I think it’s a good enough place to start…

I’ll post something more pleasant and agreeable tomorrow. *smile*

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