Posted: October 17th, 2013
The aspect of social class influencing the sense of belonging to a particular social group warrants much debate. Social groups normally differ in terms of cultural, social, and economic patterns and resources. Members to a given group are known to identify with the group through shared interpretations on social orientations and practices. The boundaries between social groups are determined a number of factors including location and race. Social classification manifests itself through the differences between the elite, the rich, disenfranchised, and poor. These differences represent the lifestyle of each social class and this shows the boundaries between those classes.
One does not need to stroll through areas of the rich or poor and witness the vast differences in terms of social livelihood. For example, the rich are known to lead luxurious lifestyles characterized mansion estates whose prices range from thousands to millions of dollars. Most rich communities tend to settle in high-class stores, areas near beaches and similar places. The convenience of obtaining this lifestyle is rather easy since they have access to the means. Compared to other areas, the rich residential areas are normally guarded by top-notch security. In comparison, the lifestyle of the less well off in the society is harder, depressing, and less fortunate. Areas where the poor thrive have low class security systems. In this case, these areas are populated with people from whom the rich are protected. However, it is prudent to understand that the poor do not necessarily represent criminals, but the crime cycle is seen to repeat itself among them due to their inability to get out of the situation.
Indeed, this clearly pertains to the boundaries between social classes. The differences in lifestyle between the rich and the poor equate the boundaries. People in the upper social class live a virtually inaccessible lifestyle, both metaphorically and literally due to the financial status and security associated with it. For the poor or people with a relatively less financial resource, this lifestyle implies impassible borders that define social class boundaries. Just as communities in the upper class restricted to the poor, similarly, the communities in the lower social class are restricted to the rich. The rich have a wealthy status that limits them to living in high priced areas. Many people in this social class would feel unsafe in poor social class surroundings thus restricting them to neighborhoods of their nature. Ultimately, these factors create boundaries between social classes and segregate society.
Upstairs Downstairs is an example series that depicts social class boundaries. In the series, social class definitions on boundaries are mainly dependent on income or wealth numerical measures. Others put into consideration qualitative factors including social status, culture, and education. However, no consensus has been established over which among the variables should be regarded essential. Society in this Upstairs Downstairs is characterized by boundaries that create inequality through differences among people that make them regarded as higher or lower. In this case, people from the same social class grow in the same lifestyle and thinking thus forming a pattern, hence creating social class.
It is not possible to understand social class boundaries in the series without acknowledging the social stratification concept. This is because social class boundaries are determined by what people in a particular social group wears and the television shows they watch. Ultimately, social class position and boundaries affects one’s health, happiness, and even lifespan. The series depicts the lifestyles of people from different social strata, the aristocracy and the servants. One main theme in the series reveals the close entwinement of the two social groups and their reliance on each other. Notably, the interesting bit of the series comes through the two-war period when the relationship between the two social class groups changed. One class serves the other as the necessities of war were bringing out a new world.
Previous generations maintained a social class that required women to play lesser roles in the society compared to men. Since time immemorial, women have been associated with social roles including taking care of children and household chores. Social class maintained that women had lower ranking than men did in the society. Surprisingly, some communities in today’s world still uphold this belief. The recent breakdown of employment by sex analysis revealed that women are increasingly at the verge of becoming the majority compared to men. Over the years, both the bourgeois and working class women have worked towards achieving recognition and this is evident on the current emphasis on equality in terms of gender rights. It is prudent to consider the fact that the women working class in current society has significantly risen, with some holding senior positions in their professional fields. Ultimately, this progress has influenced the social and how society views. Currently, women are increasingly becoming recognized in their roles in society.
Karl Marx’s classical political economy described a commodity as any service or good produced by human effort and offered to the market for sale. According to Marx, capitalism in political economic system involves private sector control and ownership of the major features of the economy including means of production such as work force. Indeed social class plays a major role in his concept of employers treating workers as their property. The employer controls labor employment with workers no better than feudalism serfs due to the inherent extractive nature of the worker-employer relationship that permits the flow of social surplus to the superior class. Marx was awed by the capitalism ability of generating personal wealth, but the felt that the system was nonetheless fostered from social domination than rational exchange. Marx’s analysis sees the revolution in Britain as fundamental to its transition from a feudal to a capitalist state. The Upstairs Downstairs series supports this premise where social class dictates that employees are given harsh treatment with few or no benefits. In addition, one cannot overlook the fact that employers and employees, despite being from different social classes, depend on each other.
Binder. (textbook, page12)
Hotmail (class note, 7/32)
Hotmail (class note, 8/27)
Thomas, H., Lyn, E. (2010). Upstairs Downstairs [Television Series]. New York, NY: Universal Studios.
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