I'm totally soliciting opinions here for my class, and for my own mental health to see if I'm really living in some kind of Reality TV bubble and can't tell my ass from a hole in the ground.
First, keep in mind that I'm going to school for my counseling degree... (in my best Miss America voice) "in the end I hope to save the world, one person at a time" by walking them through whatever it is that lead them to my office, punching them in the throat and telling them to exercise SOME form of common sense. Kind of like Dr. Phil but with much more profanity and finger-pointing. Believe me when I say, I will vote for myself for the Best Counselor in America award. You can take that to the bank!
Tonight is the beginning of my first class since my wonderful month and a half break. My semesters are totally different than traditional college students in that I'm in an adult studies program and we go to school constantly. There wasn't an available class in May that I wanted to take, so I got to skip 6 weeks and enroll in my next five classes starting in July. God willing, this whole going-back-to-school-in-my-30s-idea will be worth it and I'll graduate with my BS (lol I love that term) in 2 more years. Then I'm back at it for the MS... I suppose after that I'll get a real job and join the real world lol.
So anyway, last night I'm doing my required reading in Class Matters (interesting read actually) for my Social Class in America class and I sparked up a little debate with Andy. I asked him to rank his family members (because they are all close knit but seem to be vastly different) in whatever social "class" he felt which they belonged. He went down the line of his brothers and nephews, 5 families total, and put them all in a social class. (For their sake and Andy's, I will not say who was placed where. I don't want to piss any of them off; I'm not actually married-in yet and they might try to beat me up.)
It appeared to me there was no method to his madness in classifying peeps. People who weren't homeowners but have steady jobs were put in middle class, and people who owned their homes, but weren't concerned about having extra money were put in low class. I didn't get it. So I asked him the reasoning he used. Apparently, Andy thinks of social class as the availability of money and little to do with possessions or appearance. He explained further; the people in middle class have the means to take care of a financial issue if it comes up (car needs a new engine, have to call an electrician or other service technician, etc.), and the people in lower class blow their wads, have nothing to show for it, and never have any money in their bank accounts.
Social class can be broken down into a million pieces; available health care, financial stability, homeownership, area of residence, community involvement, possessions, education, etc. I think the social classifications are totally subjective, because while some of these things mean something to me, they may not mean that much to anyone else. In addition, the geographic location tends to play a big part. In Oklahoma, we don't buy condos. It seems stupid to "buy" a residence where you share walls. But in a metro of California, it's common to buy a condo. And if you are able to purchase in Cali, you are doing pretty okay -- hence the assumption of a higher social class.
To me there is much more to climbing the ladder of social class. I don't need a personal chef to be upper-middle class because I like to cook and I don't like fancy shit. I don't need a BMW sedan to be upper-middle class either, because that isn't feasible with four children. I don't do $700 blouses and if I paid $400 for a pair of Jimmy Choo's, Andy would slit my wrists for me. What I need is home ownership in a rural area within a low crime area and excellent school district, financial stability, college funds for the kids, an investment portfolio, funds available to make a moderate sized purchase without thinking I'd have to sell my soul to the devil to get, and a six figure income. There's much more but you get the point. That's how I would classify being in upper-middle class. I'm no where near there. We live comfortably, but we aren't even close to my definition of upper-middle class.
For my research paper in this class, along with the dreaded oral presentation I propose some questions:
In which social class would you put your household and why?
Would you self-describe your social class as the same, higher or lower than that of your parents while you were growing up?
Disclaimer: For your consideration and privacy, I promise not to use your real name in my research paper, however if I make it big and some fancy magazine wants to publish my work -- all proceeds go directly to me and my non-existent social status. Thank you for your time.