Social structure and the pecking order
Social structure is often divided into three strata, upper class, middle class and working class. Otherwise known as the rich, the middle income group and the poor. These different classes are often sub-divided. The rich can be aristocrats, those who inherited wealth or the capitalists who invest and have great wealth and power.
The next class is the middle class and they too are often divided into sub groups, the upper middle classes and the lower middle classes. The upper middle classes being white collar and having high incomes, while the lower middle classes will be managers in industry and possibly blue collar. The working classes are often divided into those who work and have sufficient income to survive and the poor who always struggle to survive.
There is a similar structure within families, the head of the family is an adult, often the father with the mother in a secondary role. When there is a lot of children, the older children have more money and power than younger children.
The higher the social class the more they are perceived as ‘better’ than the lower classes. They think they are ‘better’ and an elite and they are treated as an elite by the lower class. They are admired, hence the popularity of television series like Downton Abbey, that portrays them as so civilised compared to the working classes. They are even trusted more; there is a pecking order. To keep the peace, the lower classes defer to the upper classes, tugging their forelocks, doffing their caps and treating them with undeserved respect.
The Thatcher government capitalised on the desire of many working people to be better and allowed them to buy social housing on the cheap and invest on the stock market on the cheap. It was a social experiment that cost the government billions and it was coupled with other experiments in privatisation. Have these experiments worked? Are the lower classes better off? Are they more civilised? Or was it divisive?
There is a tendency to trust people with a ‘upper’ class accent and distrust those with regional accents. Is that justified? Are the ‘upper’ classes more honest? There certainly appears to be more crime amongst the ‘lower’ classes, but most of it is associated with financial gain. Are there more murders and rapes amongst the lower classes? More cruelty? More divorce?
Are people from the lower classes being denied opportunities just because of their class? Is class discrimination still alive and well and should we become more aware of it? Are the working class being denied education, opportunities and well paid jobs? We don’t see many people from the upper classes homeless or working for minimum wage.
What do you think of the divisions in society? Do you think all the money, rights, opportunities and decent education should be the birth right of an elite? Please share you thoughts and comment.
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