News coverage usually centers on the extreme outliers – the very rich and the very poor. We have plenty of news stories about how the children of the upper class and the lower class fare. Those in the middle, such as children in middle-class families, are often overlooked. How do middle-class children perform when it comes to social success? Is this a product of nature or nurture?
This definition can vary in different parts of the world, but in the Western world, the middle class typically refers to the individuals and households who fall between the working class and the upper class in terms of socioeconomic status. Middle-class people in Western cultures are more likely to have a college degree than those in the working class. They are usually also financially better off and may own property. Common professions for those in the middle class are civil servants, professionals and managers.
The definition for the middle class has shifted throughout history. While it once referred to the socioeconomic group with wealth that rivalled nobles, it has now changed to refer to the upper end of the working class. Additionally, the middle class has been rumored to be shrinking even further due to income inequality, which takes the wealth of the middle class and adds it to the upper class. Accordingly, the income gaps between the classes have been getting wider. To account for the disappearing middle class, some modern definitions of the middle class may also include the upper-middle and lower-middle classes.
In the United States, the middle class has declined over the past 50 years to comprise 52 percent of the population today. As the name suggests, middle-class people sit in the middle of the line in terms of their financial situation. They usually have enough spending cash to afford small luxuries such as vacations or restaurants, but they would probably have to save up or take a loan for larger expenditures, such as buying cars or homes. They can typically afford to send their children to college with the aid of bursaries or scholarships. Although they have enough money to live comfortably, they would likely also be saving up for retirement. In many ways, the middle class has the middle ground in financial situation.
When we think of social success, we may envision rich, famous, beautiful, brilliant or hilarious people. Such characteristics are often seen in the popular idols of today. Being a billionaire, gaining a huge following or earning a seat in parliament may be examples of what people would consider social success. Social success itself is often linked to wealth, partly because it is much easier to create a presence in the world and make money from an Internet following today.
However, middle-class children are hardly likely to stand out amongst their peers for their financial situation alone. While they are in no way tight for cash, they are also far from being the richest. As a child in a middle-class household, one’s future can go both ways, and the responsibility falls on the person to study hard, get a good job and work their way up the social ladder.
Times are changing, though. Middle-class children may actually be in the perfect spot to boost their social success now. Since they typically do not have to work to put food on the table, they can instead have more free time to build up their social circles. This can include picking up new hobbies, socializing with others and creating an online presence. Numerous Internet personalities have become well-known despite not having the conventional background one would expect that would pave the way to social success. These days, the chances of attaining social success has widened to include more people from other financial situations.
Achieving social success can also be done through getting a good education and securing a reputed job. Many people have risen to fame from their work as lawyers, doctors, scientists, developers and more. Although middle-class children may be at a disadvantage compared to upper-class children when it comes to the available options for their schooling, they still have a very good chance of earning a scholarship to top universities if they work hard. However, this guideline may apply more to white middle-class children than middle-class children of color.
The middle class is seen as a comfortable societal position where one would have enough spending cash to meet all their daily needs plus occasional treats. As more young people are graduating with a college degree, families of all sorts of demographics are finding themselves with new opportunities and increased social mobility. The middle class seems desirable and not at all the worst position. However, being in the middle class can be an awkward position for marginalized races.
Equal opportunity in America promises that all Americans, regardless of race or skin color, are equally able to excel in life if they work hard and invest in the future – but middle-class black people might disagree. Generally, those who hold a college degree are more likely to find themselves Despite the promises of increased employment rate upon securing a bachelor’s degree, black people still find themselves less likely to be employed than their white counterparts with similar qualifications. At the same time, these middle-class black people are still much better off than their other black peers in the working class and below. In fact, in Chicago, black people with professional degrees and doctorates are still more likely to be unemployed than white people with only a bachelor’s degree.
Considering the persistent disparity in income among different racial groups – black people still tend to earn less than white people for the same work – it can be contended that middle-class black people may not have it all that good after all. An affluent black household is more likely to live in a poor black neighborhood than alongside white households of any income level. Black people are also subject to challenges that a white person will never have to deal with. For instance, a high-earning black person is probably more likely to get pulled over by officials for driving an expensive car than a poor-looking white person would. This can severely impact one’s social success despite being in the middle class or higher. Unfortunately, one’s skin color can still speak louder than their qualifications.
In summary, we can see that the social success middle-class children have the potential of achieving depends on a number of other environmental factors. While it is still important for middle-class children to maintain good academics and work towards achieving social success, these children no longer have as large an advantage over lower-class people. Additionally, one’s ethnicity still plays a part in how society perceives them, and by extension, how far their social success can go.
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