The U.S. Upper Class (Henslin ch.35, p.395-406)

The upper class, known to many of us as the 1%, they carry different attitudes, means, and everything down to the way they walk. According to the chapter The U.S. Upper Class, in Henslin’s book “Down to Earth Sociology,” the upper class is a group of solidarity, equals, who tend to side Republican and have much different lifestyles than their counterparts (lower classes). 

The upper class even goes as far as a social register, and you may only be a part if they deem your lifestyle upper class worthy. This is an attempt to separate themselves from the rest of the classes, and it aids in this by confirming who is “in” or who is “out.” According to their social register if a person’s wealth runs out and they cannot keep up with the lifestyle they are demoted in terms of class. In other words when someone like MC Hammer lost all his money and filed bankruptcy  he also fell out of the upper class (more like social elite 1%) and probably off the social register. On the other hand class and social order are not completely dependent on wealth (but mostly).

It is prevalent that class has a role to play and is usually coherent through generations, and possibly more so through generations of the upper class families. This starts in private schools which can be seen as a surrogate for the family empire (provincial family surrogate). The way a private school like this can cater to the upper class is by making tuition so high that only those of the upper class can afford it. Also within the school the principles of the upper class were structured into the school in a sort of hidden curriculum way. Because the schools are structured and only really open to the wealthy, those are the only people the children socialized with. Donald Trump once attended a private school and was raised in, and continues to be a large part of the upper class. His father was a wealthy man and because of his wealth and status sent his son Donald Trump to a prestigious school. In this institution he was almost guaranteed to be taught upper class values and only exposed to those deemed acceptable. 

Similar to upper class quality private school this is similar with prestigious colleges, being; Harvard, yale, and Preston. Whether upper class or not everyone recognizes these schools as prestigious. This is because a lot of the time acceptance into these schools is not based on ability of mind but on status, name, or money. For instance not to say that I couldn’t be smart enough to attend one of these schools, but I do not have a well known prestigious name, a high social status, or a lot of money. What is also widely recognized as prestigious is many sororities, fraternities, or eating clubs. Some of these groups or clubs can be seen as a sort of social hierarchy or a class system itself within the school. There is one club which former president George Bush was a part of and seeing that Bush is a part of the elite he was easily omitted. These clubs are a way for the elite to establish social solidarity and  connections with other elite. In other ways it also gives them an upper edge (not that they need it) by establishing these relationships and because they have the prestigious names of the school and club behind them. 

There are other things that support the lifestyle of the elite or upper class. Things like religion, debutante balls, and the previously mentioned social register. Religion has a tie with the wealthy dating back to the Anglican protestant time of the church. Debutant balls have always been know to be prestigious because the people are screened to ensure upper class quality, the also often cost a lot of money making them only feasible for the wealthy. Lastly the social register like all these other things are indicative of social isolation for the wealthy. A lot of what the wealthy do and are seen for is in their own interests; social isolation, values and beliefs of the elite, and their solidarity. 


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