The Myth of Classlessness - Essay Example

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Course 17 February 2012 The Myth of Classlessness and the U.S. Society The large part of the U.S. society has historically come to assume that after the transformations brought about by the processes of the 1930s to 1970s, the Americans have become characterized by the pre-dominance of the middle-class values and that therefore the problems of class divide virtually ceased to exist…
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The Myth of Classlessness
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"The Myth of Classlessness"

The process of erosion of class barriers was effectively launched by the New Deal reforms and continued by the Great Society transformations in the 1960s. The development of the system of class compromise brought an end to the violent social conflicts that often shook the U.S. in the 1910s to 1930s, creating an atmosphere where class distinctions were thought of as secondary in comparison with those of race or gender. The 1960s were especially instrumental in this sense, as the development of diverse ‘New Social Movements’ that centered more on race and identity, rather than class issues, appeared to displace the class agenda from the minds of many Americans. The problem with the perception of the class in America lies in the fact that the majority of the population is accustomed to associating the class with the external distinctions in personal lifestyle, etc. The more fundamental economic distinctions, such as ownership of wealth, are taken to be secondary in comparison with the lifestyle preferences by the many. ...
Nonetheless, the changing social circumstances have shattered such optimism nowadays. The declining social mobility that was the result of the growing rise in corporate power from the 1980s on, dealt the harshest blow against the ideas of classless society in America. The growing transfer of manufacture jobs to China and other Third World countries due to higher profitability there undermined the basis for the steady income growth among the American working people, laying the foundation for a prevalence of unskilled jobs among the newly created work positions. Later on, this very process has been extended even to traditional white-collar jobs, undermining the previously secure positions of middle-class people. Such nations as Singapore or India are now more competitive on the global market in the field of IT specialists than the U.S. does. This creates the situation where job insecurity disrupts the previous sense of confidence, leading to social discontent and sense of crisis, as manifested, among other things, in recent Occupy movement, the members whereof are mainly young people that feel that their prospects to succeed in the ‘American Dream’ world are lower than ever in historical memory. The accompanying growth in poverty testifies to these fears. For instance, in 2007 17 percent of American children lived below the poverty line (Cauthen and Fass, 1). Nonetheless, if measured in accordance with the newly risen goods and services costs, it may be concluded that about 40 percent of American children may be defined as belonging to poor families (Woodhouse 521). This in itself may tell the external observer that the significant part of the Read More
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