Ch. 7 Defined by Our Socioeconomic Status and Class

Fyodorov played a big part in this chapter with his talk with Roxanne Coss that included his confession of love, which was all translated by Gen. During his story he had prepared for Roxanne, Fyodorov mentioned several things from his childhood, really his life story. These were things that he had experienced and believed to be things that defined him as a man worthy to love her. He mentioned at one point that when he visited the Opera as a young man he stood at the back, because that was all he could afford. When he got older and got a job he got actual seats at the Opera, and then when he got an even better job he got proper seats, which are an upgrade from what he was able to afford preciously. This got me thinking about economic classes and how people are defined by how much money they make. People’s perspectives and first impressions of others are affected every day based on how much money another person they come in contact with may have. Why? Why do we implicitly evaluate people based on where they fall in regards to the social class scale?

This unconscious bias that continues to pervade through our society affects every single person. Those who are higher tend to receive a status that elevates them and continues to push them further and further away from those who are lower on the scale. It affects education, health care, the labor force, and virtually every other walk of life. This has lead us into an era where social exclusion is a massive issue that seems almost impossible to recover from. People of lower class have less opportunities and are not given the benefits that the higher class individuals are receiving. This isn’t just because they can’t afford the things higher class individuals can. It’s because they are treated differently because of the psychological perception that they are not as valuable to our society as those of higher status.

Education is a very interesting topic to discuss on this issue because we know the issue at hand and it seems we are unwilling to do anything about it. A study was conducted in England that found lower class individuals to be receiving lesser attention in the classroom and therefore underachieving (Whitty). After years of conducting more studies, Whitty believes that his findings have not diminished the gap between working and middle class education. He believes that even though his research, and others, has been shared among the educators of his country the gap has likely increased during this time. I understand that “ignorance is bliss”, but our educators must take the knowledge they are given and make changes to the amount of time they divulge in to each student and policy makers must find ways to even the playing field if we are ever to diminish social exclusion within education.

A recent study was conducted in Australia that concluded there was a substantial socioeconomic inequality within the healthcare in Australia. Not all sectors were affected equally, but many services were not selected by disadvantaged individuals because of certain policies that existed that did not make those options as easily available to them do to monetary reasons (Korda, Banks, Clements, and Young). Medicaid in the United States, in regards to ambulatory services, has been set up in a way that makes it less likely for an individual who is socioeconomically disadvantaged to call an ambulance. Medicaid will not pay for an ambulance ride if it was not absolutely needed for the patient. The members of our society in the lower class are generally misinformed that ambulance service is not of good quality compared to hospital services. The service that is given inside the ambulance is also much greater in expense than service inside the hospital, so many people will choose to get to the hospital themselves rather than pay all of that money even when in an emergency situation. This can greatly affect these individuals health, and also hurts our healthcare system (Kangovi, Barg, Carter, Long, Shannon, and Grande). So why do we not have any policies in place to address this problem?

I was unable to find very much information as to why we think the way we do about individuals who are of a different socioeconomic class than ourselves. However, I plan to start researching more on this as I continue through Bel Canto and move in to my final paper. I believe that we have an implicit evaluation about others we come in contact with based on their economic status. However, I also see stereotypes that are formulated based on explicit evaluations that are often times defeated as we find facts that defeat them. I look forward to what my discoveries will entail next week as I dive deeper into implicit and explicit evaluations and how they relate to unconscious bias.

 

Works Cited
1) Kalmijn, Matthijs, and Gerbert Kraaykamp. “Social Stratification and Attitudes: A Comparative Analysis of the Effects of Class and Education in Europe1.” Social Stratification and Attitudes: A Comparative Analysis of the Effects of Class and Education in Europe. The British Journal of Sociology, 7 Dec. 07. Web. 14 Oct. 2015.
2) Kangovi, S., F. K. Barg, T. Carter, J. A. Long, R. Shannon, and D. Grande. “Understanding Why Patients Of Low Socioeconomic Status Prefer Hospitals Over Ambulatory Care.” Health Affairs 32.7 (2013): 1196-203. Web. 14 Oct. 2015.
3) Korda, Rosemary J., Emily Banks, Mark S. Clements, and Anne F. Young. “Is Inequity Undermining Australia’s ‘universal’ Health Care System? Socio-economic Inequalities in the Use of Specialist Medical and Non-medical Ambulatory Health Care.” Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 33.5 (2009): 458-65. Web. 14 Oct. 2015.
4) Whitty, Geoff. “Education, Social Class and Social Exclusion.” Journal of Education Policy 16.4 (2001): 287-95. Web. 14 Oct. 15.
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2 thoughts on “Ch. 7 Defined by Our Socioeconomic Status and Class

  1. dgromels says:

    This is a very timely topic as we hear our presidential candidates, particularly Bernie Sanders, questioning why such a high proportion of the country’s total wealth goes to such a small proportion of the people. As you pointed out in your blog post, the system seems to be set up so that the rich get richer, and you stated that it is because there is a perception that the middle and lower classes are not as valuable. I think that this is certainly an accurate statement, which you backed up with your research on healthcare and education. It seems that the wealth gap can be attributed to these biases in combination with the fact that vast majority of the people who make decisions about the structure of our economy are wealthy themselves (which in itself is partially the result of bias). I would encourage you to try to find more information about why we have these biases, like you said in your post. I would also be interested to see if the level of bias correlates with a person’s relative wealth and also the way bias against the poor is related to political party preference.
    You could also investigate whether people of lower classes have biases against people of the upper class. From my observations, it seems like we tend to idolize the top one percent in some ways, yet demonize them in others when in fact many wealthy people make significant monetary contributions to our society through donations. In American politics, the lower class is constantly characterized as lazy freeloaders while the upper class are described as being selfish and privileged. To what degree are our conscious and unconscious biases influenced by political rhetoric? Does our two-party system divide the classes and pin them against one another? I would argue that it does, and I think this could be an interesting perspective to add into your research. Perhaps you could even look at the role of implicit and explicit biases in politics since that seems to be where your interests lie.

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  2. annawallace003 says:

    Bryson,
    I really enjoyed reading your post this week. I think it is safe to say that ones status and class is analyzed almost everywhere whether we realize it or not. Along with being analyzed I believe that we also can find ourselves analyzing others, which as I learned from you last week would be considered an unconscious bias.
    I was glad to see that you were able to incorporate what you learned from last week’s research into what you researched this week. I know you were interested in first impressions but this is also an interesting route to explore.

    I like that you chose to focus on education and healthcare because they are two elements that make a huge impact on a person’s life. I was shocked to see that even children who are born into a lower class family have to suffer in an academic setting. Teachers have the ability to shape a child’s future and it is a shame that this is a common occurrence as well as what you mentioned with health care.

    On a not so serious note, the first thing I thought of when you first mentioned how people are treated differently based on class is in a department store. From personal experience, when I go shopping and choose to dress nicely I find that I receive more attention from the sales associate due to the fact that I appear to be of a higher class compared to when I am dressed casually in say athletic gear.

    Anna

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