Saturday, August 14, 2010

Essay on Classism: The Reflection That Society Sees

Essay on Classism

The mirror image of two different classes, the reflection of the under class opposed to the upper class is highly seen through the eyes of society. In typical American society, classism is usually pointed in the direction of the upper class having the advantage, which is the way that the media exposes it. The society set the standards for the different classes, which is already biased because our political parties are made up of the upper class. There are two articles that I closely examined that perfectly fit the media's perspective of the reflection of the under class being at a disadvantage: "Family Struggles to Make Do after Fall from Middle Class" by Dirk Johnson; and "Media Magic: Making Class Invisible" by Gregory Mantosis. The first article expresses, very detailed, how it is to be a member of the under class, and how it is such a struggle for a family that fell from the middle class. The second article focuses on how the media promotes the position of the classes, and how they bring out the positives from the upper class, and the negatives from the lower class.

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"Counting all their part-time jobs, the Millers will make about $18,000 this year, less than half what Mr. Miller earned as a union sheet-metal worker. They have found the fall difficult to fathom, and even harder to accept." (Johnson 274) It is a clear fact the part-time jobs that are set out there are definitely not paying enough money for a person to live comfortably, let alone for a family to live comfortably. The sad thing about making a good income is that you must have a college education, at least. And some individuals come from families that are from the under class and can't afford to go to college. Besides that, some families are just brought up with different morals. For instance, I am from the middle class, and it was not a discussion whether brother or me wanted to go to college, it was like more of a norm to us. All of my mother's siblings graduated from college, and most of them went further. The Miller family was at a huge disadvantage from the beginning being as though they both didn’t go to college. And the media does a great job of stressing that the individuals who attend college are guaranteed to live life without any struggles.

"This media plays a key role in defining our cultural tastes, helping us locate ourselves in history, establishing our national identity, and ascertaining the range of national and social possibilities." (Mantsios 563) The media is at full fault of the way that individuals view themselves in society. They put this huge emphasis on how privileged the upper class is, and how the under class is a "menace to society". You look on the news everyday and you see the under class neighborhoods with trash all over the streets and the crime rate escalating by the minute. Yet, at the same time, the same types of things go on in upper class neighborhoods except for they are funded more by their communities. I live in Pennsauken, New Jersey, which is a small town right next to Camden, New Jersey, and is considered to be upscale compared to Camden, yet the two towns are right next to each other. The main difference between the two towns is the crime rate. When I look on the local news and read articles in the local newspapers, I see more coverage done on Camden crime rather than Pennsauken crime. If this is the view that the media sets out for society to see, than this is what we perceive of the under class.

After comparing the two articles "Family Struggles to Make Do after Fall from Middle Class" and Media Magic: Making Class Invisible", I analyzed that Classism is a justification of what type of life you have experienced, whether it be from personal circumstances or from the media. "We're Middle class people, it's just that we have a lower class income." (Johnson 274) The Millers in the first article now see how it is to go from the "normal" class to the "bad" class, and through this they find it extremely difficult to adjust. That aspect causes the media to continue to make assumptions and provide misleading information about the under class. "Those who own and direct the mass media are themselves part of the upper class, neither they nor the ruling class in general have to conspire to manipulate public opinion." (Mantsios 571) The upper class feeds into the media and supports them only to their own advantage. They just want to make sure that they stay in the "right" category and done become classified as nothing other than the "better" class.

Classism is a very invisible issue among our society today, and I found it extremely insightful that Johnson and Mantsios showed the reflections of the under class opposed to the upper class seen through the eyes of society. Johnson ends his article by stating, "For people like us, I'm afraid the good times are gone for good." (277) It is a shame that they feel as though they're happy life is over because they went down a class, but that is what they are accustomed to, to seeing the under class as being unhappy and always struggling. Mantsios ends his article by stating, "A mass media that did not have its own class interests in preserving the status quo would acknowledge the inordinate wealth and power undermines democracy." (571) This can be simply broken down to mean that the maybe if the media took a second to analyze more than they put out there, they would care more, but since there class isn't being demolished, they could care less.

I was highly affected by the two articles. I live in a neighborhood that views to be middle class, yet we have a mixture of classes in scattered throughout. The reflection that the society sees of both the under class and the upper class is a vision of what society wants to be seen. They want their class to be seen as living well and comfortable. And they set a terribly bad image of the class that is under privileged. I just strongly believe that classism shouldn't play such a big part today's society, especially since we are overcoming so many "old" issues.


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