IDEA May 13, 2010. Social Class. Social Class. Stratification within a society based on a number of variables: Income Education Taste Heritage. Social Class in the United States. Largely denied by U.S. culture “Classless society”
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IDEA May 13, 2010 Social Class
Social Class • Stratification within a society based on a number of variables: • Income • Education • Taste • Heritage
Social Class in the United States • Largely denied by U.S. culture • “Classless society” • “The belief that the United States is a classless society or, alternatively, that most Americans are “middle class” persists . . . despite pervasive socioeconomic stratification” (Media Images of the Poor; Bullock, Wyche and Williams, 2001)
Denial of Social Class • Meritocracy (Regardless of Race) • Equal opportunity (Legal Blindness) • Upward Mobility • Overshadowed by other concerns • Race • Gender • Religion
Social Class Exists • Vast differences among Americans in their incomes, property, power • “Access” and Privilege are significantly influenced by social class at birth: • Education (legacy) • Technology • Networking (Equal Opportunity is a Fantasy; Polly Toynbee 2009
Social Mobility? • Mobility among classes is relatively common in the United States, but: • Children of the rich tend to be afforded a great deal of advantage in education, networking, ability to try and fail, etc. • People of different classes have fairly limited personal contact • Geographic segregation • Intermarriage across widely differing social classes is uncommon • Old money tends to maintain the class position of the next generation
Stereotypes • A stereotype is a widely held mental picture that represents an oversimplified, prejudiced, or uncritical judgment. • Usually negative • Not typically based on prolonged contact, but rather a generalization based on limited exposure • Very often influenced by media representation
Stereotypes Threat • A “stereotype threat” arises when one is in a situation where one has the fear of doing something that would inadvertently confirm a negative stereotype. • This preoccupation leads to decreased performance.
Stereotype Threat • Many studies have replicated and extended the finding first reported by Steele and Aronson (1995) that invoking group memberships associated with negative stereotypes can harm performance on tasks where poor performance might confirm stereotypes. • Stereotype threat produces numerous consequences, most of which are negative in nature. www.reducingstereotypethreat.org
Stereotype Threat • Stricker and Ward (2004) provide evidence that simply moving standard demographic inquiries about ethnicity and gender to the end of the test resulted in significantly higher performance for women taking the AP calculus test. • These effects could be substantial and significant when generalized to the population of test-takers. • If the ETS were to implement this simple change in testing procedures, it is estimated that an additional 4,700 female students annually would receive Advanced Placement credit in calculus.
Representation of Social Class • Over-representation of professionals and relatively well-to-do on TV • Occasional representations of lower class are often stereotypic Stereotypes • Not typically bases prolonged contact, but rather a generalization based on limited exposure • Very often influenced by media representation
When lower- and working-class people are depicted • Tend to be portrayed as foolish or ignorant • “Trailer trash” can be portrayed in ways that would cause significant outcry if applied to racial minorities, etc. • Archie Bunker • Homer Simpson • Seen as sexist, racist, violent, unintelligent and entirely lacking in taste • Jerry Springer • WWE • Blue Collar Comedy
Media Myth of a “classless society” • Presenting the interests of the well-off (e.g., stock, financial portfolios, and leisure time) • Downplaying the structural economic concerns (e.g., job security, income) of the working class and poor • Portraying the middle class as the norm, with little representation of interclass tension
Stereotype Threat • How will these representations lead to Stereotype Threat? • Class Dismissed Pepi Leistyna
IDEA Inquiry into Diversity, Empathy and Action Empathy is at the heart of diversity work. How we interact and engage with others that are “different” should be strongly influenced by our willingness to understand their experience.