NY Times – Class in America

June 19, 2005 at 12:50 am 3 comments

The New York Times ran a series of articles on class in America about a month ago. I found this blog that provided a brief summary of it, with several paragraphs that caught my eye:

Where the paper’s argument gets interesting is in its examination of the American dream, or myth, of mobility:

“And new research on mobility, the movement of families up and down the economic ladder, shows there is far less of it than economists once thought and less than most people believe. In fact, mobility, which once buoyed the working lives of Americans as it rose in the decades after World War II, has lately flattened out or possibly even declined, many researchers say.

Mobility is the promise that lies at the heart of the American dream. It is supposed to take the sting out of the widening gulf between the have-mores and the have-nots. There are poor and rich in the United States, of course, the argument goes; but as long as one can become the other, as long as there is something close to equality of opportunity, the differences between them do not add up to class barriers.”

Pundits and politicians love telling Americans that through hard work, everyone has a chance to be mobile and move up to the next rung on the ladder. With the rising cost of living, the stagnation of the wage, and the bubble of the real estate market, moving up to that next rung is difficult, if not impossible for a working family.

Social mobility has always been a part of the American mythos. An old teacher of mine used to simplify things by saying: “You are economically mobile only by marriage. That’s it.” An over simplification, yes, but not too far from truth.

Sounds familiar no?


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Ramblings on the educational (JC) divide II The Old White and Green at Mt Sinai

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Unknown  |  June 19, 2005 at 3:03 am

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  • 2. Unknown  |  June 19, 2005 at 3:06 am

    Lol. So true.

    And like, it doesn’t take into accounts of race and class as well.

    People are already socialized into acting a certain way in a certain class and let’s say even if a poor soul did make a lot of money, what and how would that person use the money?

    They don’t even know how to use (or when to use) the many forks that are placed in a 5-star restaurant.

    They may also have no idea how to decorate their 5-bedroom house…and prob have it decorated tacky-like. “No class man.”

    (If I had paid attention in my social mobility class, I’d be a bit more informative. Too bad I wasn’t. I tried though.)

  • 3. Oikono  |  June 21, 2005 at 10:34 pm

    I think 3 years back, the Economist ran the figures for social mobility, comparing America with Europe.

    There was hardly any difference. I guess the plus of America is the belief and respect in the underdog who makes his way up.


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