Blog #4: New Money vs. Old Money

Today’s class discussion about status immediately got me thinking about status in modern America. I believe the video played in class did a great job of describing American’s and their competitive strive to pass somebody who is a couple steps ahead of oneself in the social ladder. Unwillingly, we become envious of those who seem to have a little more than us.

The idea of how people with money who typically inherit their money, look down at people who have to work for it, is perfectly shown in one of my all time favorite books and movie: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The status of people in The Great Gatsby is divided between the “New money” and “Old money” or the “West Egg” and “East Egg.” Fitzgerald does a great job in explaining Weber’s theory of status. Although Gatsby is filthy rich and has wealth, he still does not status in society. Nobody knows where his money came from, and a humble background is not much appreciated. He struggles and competes with Tom Buchanan, who comes from a socially solid family, and has immense status, although he has not really done anything to acquire his money. In the end, Daisy ends up choosing Tom because he has status and class unlike Gatsby. Gatsby may be wealthy, but by the standards of society, he is not worthy. Although Daisy actually loves Gatsby, choosing him over Tom would be a social downgrade for Daisy. This directly correlates with Weber’s theory of how although someone may be wealthy, they still do not have social status.

Whether we are talking about the 20th century, or the 21st century, Weber’s theory still applies. Acquiring wealth is magnificent, but status is what holds the key to satisfaction. This is why Americans are so obsessed with social status. In the case of Gatsby, he lost the girl of his dreams because of his status. Whether we realize it or not status affects the lives of everybody everyday. We try to achieve high social status as a means to an end.

 

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5 responses to “Blog #4: New Money vs. Old Money

  1. Connecting Weber’s theory to The Great Gatsby was so brilliant! I also love the book and movie! I agree with you in that status hold the key to society and wealth is almost a subjective satisfaction. Social status and/or social class are everything in society today, and most Americans strive to be on the top in terms of wealth and social class. When Daisy chose to be with Tom Buchanan over Jay Gatsby, that was a great representation of peoples loyalty to others and peoples motivation, when social class is involved.

  2. I also agree that you did a great job connecting The Great Gatsby to Weber’s theory and the video played in class, ” Status Anxiety”. Feeling envious is natural but it is sad that everyone feels the need to compete with one another. It definitely is not fun to watch people you consider your “equals” to succeed, because you just compare it to your situation. I also agree that everyone tries to achieve high social status and appear to be what they are not. For example someone may live in a tiny house and spend all their money a nice car to appear rich when they leave their house but in reality they are not rich at all. It is sad that this is what is important to American’s today.

  3. The great gatsby was a great representation of this! Also from another stand point of the movie Gatsby actually did a lot of illegal things just to raise his social status. What people want is to at least feel like they are high social class, and this is putting them on the wrong path of life. Competition indeed helps the bigger companies but what about the economy as a whole? its hurting us because they are selling young people a dream which puts them in more debt only to hurt the economy even more.

  4. Great catch, M! The Great Gatsby perfectly captures the distinction between status and economically-based power (money), and the greater prestige assigned to “old money” vs “new money.” I’ll be using a clip from the film next time I teach this!

  5. Thanks guys! I’d also like to add on how Nick, the narrator also understands the idea of status, he becomes intrigued by the fast paced life style(prestige, money, parties) but in the end realizes how people who only care about money and outside appearances are so shallow, such as Tom and Daisy.

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