Class Vs. Caste Essay, Research Paper
This essay will address the critical thinking questions of chapter six in the course text. It will address the terms class and caste systems, white blue and pink-collared jobs, the working and chronically poor, the truly disadvantaged, the culture of poverty, necessities, surplus, and absolute and relative poverty. Also discussed is the relationship that these terms have with one another and some personal reflections on how the puzzle of solving these problems can come into fruitation.
There are two types of stratified systems in the world today. The first of these is the caste system. The course text defines a caste system as a “fixed arrangement of strata from the most to the least privileged, with a person’s position determined unalterably at birth.” A widely used example of a caste system is in place today in India. Those who are born into the highest class can look forward to a very promising future filled with wealth and prestige. Those born into the lowest caste have a life of hard labor and no chance of advancement. The second type of social system is known as a class system. A class system is defined in the text as, “a system in which social standing is determined by factors over which people can exert some control, such as their educational attainment, their income, and their work experience.” Here in the United States we have the greatest example of a class system. With hard work and a good education, people in any class can better their position. Within each of these stratification systems lie three types of job classifications; white-collar, blue-collar, and pink-collar. White-collar jobs are those that require extensive formal education and usually take place in pleasant, indoor settings. Blue-collar jobs usually are more physically demanding than white-collar jobs and take
place wherever work must be done. Pink-collar is a new classification of jobs that have
historically been reserved for women. In the caste system of India a white-collar job would be that of a warrior, ruler or large land-owner. A blue-collar job would be that of an unskilled laborer or farmers. Pink-collar jobs are non-existent due to the woman’s place being in the home. In the American class system, the White collar professions are those of lawyers, doctors, and politicians. Blue-collar workers are mechanics, farmers, or some other laborer. In America, pink-collar jobs tend to be secretaries, waitresses, nurses, or other types of caretakers.
The U. S. Department of Labor describes the working poor as “individuals who have spent at least twenty-seven weeks in the labor force, but whose income fell below the official poverty threshold. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty threshold is $14,763 for a family of four. Any family that had one member employed more than half of last year and made less than $14,763 was considered part of the working poor. In 1995, almost six percent of the work force was considered to be part of the working poor. Those who fall below the poverty line and are unemployed are considered the chronically poor. Members of the chronically poor often turn to various forms of crime in order to provide for themselves. According to the census bureau, children made up forty-eight percent of the nations chronically poor in 1992 and 1993 and the elderly accounted for eleven percent. Twelve million people were chronically poor in this country in 1992 and 1993. A third classification of the poor is the truly disadvantaged. This class of people generally live in the inner city and continue to be
jobless, deviant, crime-ridden, dependent upon welfare, and unstable in their family life. One might argue, however, that this socially unacceptable behavior is not chosen by the truly disadvantaged but rather that it is a culture of their poverty. Culture of Poverty is defined in the text as “the set of norms and values that help the poor adapt to their situation. Culture of poverty states that a poor person might spend any money he or she attains very quickly because he or she has no faith in the future therefore immediate gratification is seen as the only way. This rapid spending would result in the person having to attain more money when it was time to eat, and if committing a crime is the only way to attain that money, than so be it. This all leads back to the vicious cycle that is referred to as the truly disadvantaged. The cycle that accompanies the truly disadvantaged affects statistics in a drastic way. For example, according to volume sixteen of the Cato Journal, a 1% increase in the population of the truly disadvantaged results in a .1% increase in unemployment and a .6% increase in violent crime, and a 1.7% increase in abortions.
If there is one thing in this chapter that all people can relate to, it is the difference between necessities and surplus. Necessities are those thing that we as humans cannot survive without. Our human necessities consist of food, water, shelter, air, and clothing. Surplus is anything above and beyond a necessity. Examples of surplus are your car, computer, bed, radio or anything else that you theoretically could live without. Often times, even the things that one must have in order to survive are absent. This situation is called absolute poverty. According to Absolute Poverty-Its Causes and Cures, Absolute
poverty is “the situation where the basic necessities for human existence are absent“. “Absolute poverty is characterized by inadequate nutrition, inadequate shelter, and poor or non-existent healthcare, poor sanitation and polluted water supply.” Oftentimes television commercials can be seen, asking for a few cents per day to help a child in need of clean drinking water or food. These commercials are really asking for help in releving absolute poverty. Absolute Poverty-Its Causes and Cures states that every minute of every day, fifty babies are born into poverty. Of the six billion people in the world, one and a half-billion are poor and the number is rising by twenty five million per year. Twenty percent of the world’s population lives on a daily income of less than one U.S. dollar. Relative poverty is a different condition than absolute poverty. The relatively poor are those that are poor only in comparison with others. A family with an income of $50,000 per year might be considered average or even upper-middle class in the rural areas of Kentucky. However the same amount of money might be seen as barely enough to survive in the urban city of New York. In Kentucky you would be normal whereas in New York you would be relatively poor.
In conclusion, all of the above mentioned terms have a close relationship with one another. It is because of this close relationship that the key to solving the problem of poverty is nonexistent. Many people feel that helping the poor financially is the answer. However, their cultural need for immediate gratification makes the money disappear almost immediately. Work programs provide the poor with a means to work in blue-collar jobs that even the blue-collar workers don’t want. The Cato Journal states that
“Poverty has increased in relative and absolute terms since the 1970’s in the world.” All of these factors make attempting to alleviate poverty very noble, yet frustrating. It seems that the poor will always exist and that there are no real solutions to destroying it. Fortunately, in our society, we have the opportunity to better our social status if we are truly committed to doing