Social class to me, was just a way to section people off into varied incomes, and albeit true, there is much more to it than just statistics and that is what makes social class an interesting topic. Personally, when talking about social class, I usually don’t think on how I would categorize my family. The defining lines of “poor” and “wealthy” were too broad to make and I just suggested that if my parents were able to purchase items I wanted, then I didn’t believe I would have been categorized into the lower classes. But besides statistics on class based on average incomes of whatever race or education, what is more interesting to me about the topic is how it’s shaped our culture. Some questions I thought of such as, Would rap music even exist if it wasn’t for the economic standing of African Americans today, or even if our economic system was entirely different? How would fashion trends change or would they even change at all if our economic system was different as well? This is what piqued my interest on the subject of class and Is why my paper is based on how certain events have affected social class over the past 80 years.Social Class is the term used to describe a grouping of different incomes in forms such as working class, middle class and upper class.
Social, meaning “relating to society or its organizations” and class, meaning “a set or category of things having some property or attribute in common and differentiated from others by kind, type, or quality”. The most common interpretation is the 3 class system that contains upper class, middle class, and lower class (also by the name of working class), However, there are other more complex systems that judge social class based more on a specific listing of categories. When looking at statistics at America’s social classes it’s obvious that the working and middle class are the larger populated classes of the 3. Social classes throughout the world are different but similar in their own ways. Such as the Roman hierarchical system where specific or vague jobs are what determines a person’s class. As for the indian caste system is not different but is controversial due to its prejudice against its lower classes. Albeit evident, a country’s economic system changes its conception of social class as well such as Marxian economics.
One of the events, and arguably the most devastating market crash in American history, is one of the key parts in understanding the impact on social class. Beforehand, Mentioning that the banking system during the 1920’s and before are significantly different is vital. Most banks were small companies that had their own individual institutions that had to rely on their own resources, thus making them unstable and easily able to go under.
During the roaring 20’s, The stock market has grown at exceptional rates. Dow Johns, an industrial stock market index, steadily grew into being worth $400 per share, with adjusting for inflation would be near six thousand dollars. With the overproduction of agricultural goods(BBC) and multiple industries declined, many investors began to predict a crash. With the London Stock Exchange crash, this further reinforced the coming of a crash on Wall Street. A large dip in Dow Jones stocks was the first indication and many Americans began to sell their stocks.
Companies began to pour money into industries stocks in order to halt the imminent crash (STOCK). But nonetheless, The crash continued and banks had no more physical money to give, and led to a wave of banks closing down. This froze the credit system in the US and led to massive deflation in the economy in which helped spiral into the great depression.
This divided the social classes even more with record high unemployment and the rich losing their wealth. However this united people more due to the circumstances of the issue and changed the outlook on different social classes at the time, not seeing someone as a wealthy man mostly because practically all people were in the same predicament. The great recession of 2008 proved to be a significant recent event in which the US economy further divided its social classes thus showing the fragility of the US economy. After negotiations between Wall Street executives and government officials, Lehman Bros. collapsed into bankruptcy, And so did AIG.
Merrill Lynch was forced to sell itself to Bank of America (Picardo). With this and a housing crisis in which an 8 trillion dollar housing bubble burst, had an overall contribution to the crisis. As consumer spending and business investment dried up so did massive job loss as followed. The U.S Labor Market lost approximately 8.
4 million jobs. With all this damage done it took three and a half years in order restabilize the economy. Even after the recession the economy still had 5.12% fewer jobs than before the event (Rich). With the effects that took place, family incomes have dropped, as well as a housing crash and a drop in the stock market led to family wealth dropping significantly and further dividing the social classes.
This has affected modern culture artistically and fundamentally, providing a base in which people have expressed their ideas around social status and has equally detrimental and benefited families and people around the US.The numerous economic events in the US has altered the state of social classes not just statistically but culturally as well. Social class doesn’t just depend on the wealth you have but rather the clothing you wear, the music you enjoy, and the school you go to. This plays a major role in shaping who you are.
As culture influences Social class, same can be said vice versa.