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.