Class consciousness in The United States
Within contemporary society, people live and do things based on where they are able to fit comfortably. Those who can afford that which is expensive life and prefer what is affordable to them and that trend cascades down the chain of economic muscle. It is out of such awareness that the discussion on class consciousness arises. From the Marxist theory, class consciousness denotes a set of beliefs held by a person regarding their social rank in economic terms, the structure of their class, and the interests of the class therein. One is able to identify with the class they fit in when they consider the existent social and economic characteristics and the group within a society which holds similar interests and aspirations as the individual does.
In the United States, society is made up of these divisions. There is the upper class made up of those with vast inherited wealth, and with recognizable family names. The other category is what is commonly referred to as the ‘new money who have earned their money other than inheriting it. This stratification goes down up to the poor who can hardly afford a meal and live in the streets. In between these levels of social stratification, there is resentment especially by those placed lower towards those who are ranked highly as they see them as being the ones who control the economy. Those in the upper class also see those below them as lazy and sometimes even as the key promoters of crime.
The United States, being a capitalist society fits within Karl Marx’s argument that the rich, bourgeoisie control the proletariat, or the workers. Though there are workers’ unions and movements that seek to ensure that the rich do not exploit them, one cannot be blind to the fact that the rich determine how the dynamics of society move. The United States is currently made up of a majority of the middle and the working class who earn a living working for the upper class.
Though the American dream promises an ever upward mobility in terms of social strata, one cannot fail to be alive to the divisions that exist. The tensions that exist across the various classes are also notable as well as the stereotyping and views held by members of one class against those of another. The debate should perhaps move to think about protecting the interests of those who lack economic power and giving them opportunities so they can make efforts towards realizing the American dream
Crossman, Ashley, July 25, 2019. “Understanding Karl Marx’s Class Consciousness and False Consciousness.” (Accessed January 30, 2020) https://www.thoughtco.com/class-consciousness-3026135