Tag Archives: class consciousness

Blog #1 Wealth Inequality in America

Considering the truths of both videos my response reflects my concern for the future of America. In the Land of the Free, Home of the Poor Americans were questioned to pick a pie chart that reflected the distribution of wealth. Most Americans were choosing the pie chart that represented the wealth of Sweden. In my opinion their motives for choosing the pie chart that actually reflected the wealth of Sweden was , considering the location of the poll of that time , that the opinion of a specific social class of elite status. At the end when two men that would be though of as low middle class, actually pick the right chart. This makes sense since the elite individuals in our society are not always or don’t want to be aware of how unequal is our society. This would point to Marx concept of class consciousness, where the proletarians become aware of their position and united to fight against the bourgeois. In the Wealth Inequality in America, they show the same phenomenon as the first video but the pool of people question is bigger therefore it is more accurate. The remark about communist lets the viewer know that they are not making propaganda for communist, they believe in capitalism but they do believe that something needs to be done. My concern is people’s ignorance about our reality, people tend to not want to admit how unequal our wealth distribution is and the gap keeps getting bigger. There is a need for class consciousness, even if is not to establish communism as Marx would want but just to be more realistic about our economic situation. In conclusion I enjoyed the videos very much and made me understand better the occupy Walt-street campaign.

Karl Marx and The German Ideology- Blog #1

Firstly, I would like to start by saying I have never thought of Karl Marx as a theorist. I have always thought of him as some socialist or communist from decades ago. After reading the German Ideology and researching Karl Marx, I have come to really enjoy his work and his ideologies.

Karl Marx was the first theorist to develop a social theory of a capitalist society. Marx’s ideas went against that of Hegel and Hegelian philosophers. Hegelian philosophers were interested in consciousness and abstract ideas. They were considered idealist philosophers because they also believed the ones independent existence shaped their social reality. This idea argued that a change in social reality can come about through a change in the manner reality is perceived. Hegel’s ideology focused on social change.

Marx had an materialist approach to the change in society. The German Ideology focuses on the perception that material existence influences social change. I tried to conceptualize this theory and apply it to modern time. I think that we are greatly influenced by our material existence today. Society is driven by money and the need to have it all. I agree with Marx’s theory. Our realities are shaped by the material items that we have or strive for. We work hard to have nice homes, cars and clothes. Additionally, we work hard to provide ourselves with a meaningful education in order to get a better paying job, to eventually provide ourselves with all we want.

Thinking in terms of capitalism, our nation has been deemed a consumer nation. We are almost bread to consume (literally and figuratively) and buy. At the top of our consumer nation is the “haves” and at the bottom the “have nots”. It is the goal of those on the top of the corporate pyramids to work their employees for the least amount of money while expecting them to make daily and monthly sales goals for their stores. Failures in making numbers could result in job termination for managers, cut hours for employees and lost wages. I worked as a manager in retail for a few years only to decide that it was not for me. Shortly after beginning working at a new store in Queens, I came to realize the corporate team was not interested in my success and growth in the company. They were concerned about me and my team making their numbers in a timely fashion. Corporations do not care about the consumer, they care about their sales and the money generated from their sales. This type of neglect from corporate offices, I’m sure has played a role in the heightening debts that Americans now experience. I do not like the idea of capitalism, but I agree with Marx in that our realities are shaped by what we have or what we strive to have.

House of Sand and Fog

This movie has shows a clear distinction between class and status (Weber) in the character of Berhani. He is blind to the fact that he belongs to a lower class or clearly does not belong to the upper class. He came from his country and lost both his class and his status. Though, he tried to keep that status and class of a General in America, it really meant nothing. He held on to it so much so he couldn’t see what he was here. In terms of status, he faked his ‘lifestyle’ in order to marry off his daughter to a well off man. They lived lavishly, way out there means . Everyone from the outside viewed them as an upper class rich family. This was just an allusion but nonetheless the status they owned. Weber definition of status meant someone’s lifestyle- meaning if you are ‘poor’ but you lived an extravagant lifestyle, your status can be viewed as high; or sometimes you can have a high status with no relation to income. An issue was that Berhani was ignorant to his class because of his past life. He definitely did not have class consciousness(Marx). Technically when he purchased Kathy’s home, he became part of the Bourgeoisie and left the Proletariat, but in modern views he would barely be considered middle class.

Blog #2: So You Think Your Middle Class, Ey?

imageHave you ever sat down and honestly asked yourself, what social class you consider yourself? Odds are unless you own a Dunkin Donuts or work down on Wall Street, you make up America’s working class. A whopping fourty-seven percent of Americans are working class doing jobs consisting of retail sales, clerical, and low skill manual labor. These are honest, lower-income, white-collar jobs.

            So what about America’s middle class? Interestingly enough, everyone wants to be part of America’s middle class however, our middle class only accounts for about fourty-two percent of our population. Most jobs offered to the middle class require higher levels of education, and most of the time a bachelors degree just doesn’t suffice. We’re talking about a Masters degree or even a doctorate just to rest in America’s middle class.
          Ultimately what does all of this have to do with famous sociologist Weber? Good question! Weber thought of class as self-identification, meaning that every individual can locate themselves within a class structure. Instead of a social class being assigned to each and every individual, the individual can decide what social he/she is in depending on their particular relations or attributes, such as wealth or occupation.
            Think your part of America’s Upper Class? Your odds are pretty slim here. To be exact, only 2.5 percent of Americans make up America’s Upper Class. Most European nations, such as Germany, split their wealth in somewhat of an even fashion depicting about twenty-or-so percent  of wealth within each of their five social classes. In America, we can narrow down our 2.5 percent of our wealthiest Americans, to the top one percent of our wealthiest Americans and within this one percent, they own about 37.1 percent of private wealth within the United States. Yes, you heard that right! Less than one percent of our country encompasses slightly over thirty-seven percent of our country’s wealth.
            Fundamentally, Weber brings an interesting, converse argument to the table. Instead of living in a society where socialism rules at its finest and the government assigns you your job, salary, and social class with it, you are free to live in America’s wonderful capitalist society in which you can identify your own class, using what he calls class as self-identification. So the next time some one asks you what you consider your social class to be, remember Weber, and freely define your social class.

Blog 4: Neo-Prejudice

When one looks at the evolution of racism from 1899 to 2012, one can find that a misrepresentation of a certain class is maintained, in order to exploit and limit social mobility. Du Bois understands that the representation of Negro’s in society is construed. In order for a class of people to be adequately represented, one must approach the study only searching for relevancy and evidence. In The Philadelphia Negro, one aspect Du Bois’s studies in the Negro community is the relations between whites, and their constructed image that limits them from excelling in society. Du Bois empathized that one must “seek to extract from a complicated mass of facts the tangible evidence of a social atmosphere surrounding Negro’s, which differs from that surrounding most whites of a different mental attitude, moral standard, and economic judgment shown toward Negroes than toward other folk;” he understood that there is a disparity in understanding among the classes, allowing for the class to be misrepresented (342). During Du Bois’s era, this race was the Negros; however, presently this race classifies Negros, as well as minorities and immigrants.

A reconstruction of a class’s reputation, allows for judgments to be controlled. The misrepresentation of a class, promoted through stereotyping, becomes common knowledge to ignorant and obedient citizens. Citizens in turn begin to profile people and treat them differently, isolating the class from social spheres. This “prejudice … is that widespread feeling of dislike for his blood, which keeps him and his children out of decent employment, from certain public conveniences and amusements, from hiring houses in many sections and in general, from being recognized as a man” (342). People of the class are treated as second class citizens and are effected by the wrath of the upper class. Those who maintain the corruption and support the idea of disparity among people. The class consequently suffers from the inability for society to recognize their worth and potential, which is reflected in their living environment. Today, minorities and immigrants suffer from the same fate of the Negros. They are treated as inferior, endure animosity from the public, and are continuously influenced by “the threatening problem of ignorance” (345). Moreover, minorities are then broken down to sub-classifications, and model minorities, especially immigrants, being to be distinguished from the rest of the class. These minorities are viewed by the society capable of performing and attaining social mobility. Competition is created among the class, in order to motivate and blind the people with an ideal to reach. Although people can find social mobility in a prejudice society, it is difficult for some who are socially unaccepted. Currently, the prejudice towards this class is more blatant, however, many people, from relations and communication are changing their constructed views. They are growing conscious  of the fact that someone may be different from them,  but does not necessarily mean that they cannot find a common ground of understanding. Although there are many people who still live under the influence of prejudice, through changing ones relation to another, we can change how we interact with each other, and consequently the world.!

Post #3: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat

Marx writes about things in such a way that make you feel inadequate, but not because of any other reason then the truth. I’m going to use my job as an example for some of his theories- I work full time at a Marriott hotel in Times Square as a front desk agent. Everything about my job is corporate, and my supervisors are very “to the book” when it comes to everything. The owner stays at the hotel from time to time, and the way he has all my managers stressed out making sure that the room is in perfect condition (they have 4 people inspect back to back), and making sure they accomedate him in every possible way is a perfect example of the bourgeoisie and proletariat theory. The owner of the hotel is the bourgeoisie, and everybody below him from assistant general manager all the way down the ladder to the housekeeping staff- we are the proletariat. In the review power point, the professor put, “other classes- landowners, petty bourgeoisie and peasantry- are eventually swallowed up by one or the other,” and that is the point I’m trying to make. No matter what you own, and no matter how high up you think you are there will always be somebody who sharpens your sense of class consciousness and makes you feel like the rich or poor. Ever since my first semester of sociology when I learned this I knew this would stick with me, because it’s something that is constantly in your face- from who your boss is to who you are the boss of.

In-class Movie

I was just making flash cards for all the terms we’ve learned or gone over during the semester and when I got to chapter four, on Max Weber the terms made me focus a lot of the movie we just watched. The terms are bureaucracy, class, status and party that really jumped out at me. This movie had such a focus on class consciousness. The characters main focus was about their class, and although the two main characters are very different- they do have some similarities that are evident.
Kathy and Behrani lie to their families about their money issues, and put up a front to act as if they are doing well, and do not need any help. They both make it seem as if they have everything under control until it all spirals out of control. They are both overwhelmed, and instead of coming clean or getting help it seems as if they dig themselves deeper. The whole reasoning is to keep their debt a secret. They don’t care who they step on to get where they need to go, whether it be not returning the house or using the officer to Kathy’s advantage to get what she wants/needs. The movie somehow feels like a small episode of survival of the fittest, the person who is able to battle it out the most will remain the keeper of the house.
It’s kind of funny how when you watch a movie on your own, you don’t dissect it to understand all the underlying messages but once it’s brought to your attention then it’s as if you can’t notice anything but this.