In the present day society, the untold wars between the two classes created by virtue of capitalism has eaten deep into the enjoyment of the quality of life of persons who are not privileged enough to afford a comfortable existence. In ancient times, there was a severe distinction between the rich and the poor, the privileged and under privileged, the haves and the have nots, the bourgeoise and the proletariat,
and a host of other names to compare the two sets of people in the society based on the amount of wealth amassed by these classes.
Without further ado, this article focuses on segregation of these classes which has thwarted the growth and development of the contemporary society we live in, the efforts of the governments to restore the classless societal norm with socialism, and the untold wars between the haves and the have nots in the society.
What Is Segregation?
In a bid to define the keyword segregation, recourse is taken to the Oxford Dictionary of English which defined the term to mean, “the act or policy of separating people of different races, religions or sexes and treating them differently”… Also, “the act of separating people or things from a larger group.”
Class discrimination, also known as classism, is prejudice or discrimination on the basis of social class which still occurs in societies around the world today. It includes individual attitudes, behaviors, systems of policies and practices that are set up to benefit the upper class at the expense of the lower class or vice versa.
Class stratification is a form of social stratification in which a society tends to divide into separate classes whose members have different access to resources and power. An economic and cultural rift usually exists between different classes.
Class stratification is a form of social stratification in which a society tends to divide into separate classes whose members have different access to resources and power. An economic, natural, cultural, religious, interests and ideal rift usually exists between different classes. People are usually born into their class, though social mobility allows for some individuals to attain a higher-level class or fall to a lower-level one.
Class and race
It can be argued that segregation between black and white ethnic groups is so strong in some countries that they are different classes, and thus that segregation is a form of class stratification. Although there is a definite divide in some countries between races, those countries will also have poor people of the “upper class” ethnicity.
Social class is usually regarded as being conceived of as sets of positions rather than as individuals who happen to fill them at any particular time. Class structure is the “empty spaces” that persons occupy without altering the shape of the class structure.
Erik Olin Wright produced class schemata, in attempts to retain a Marxist approach to class analysis. In Wright’s first schema he states that in capitalism simple production exists alongside the capitalist mode of production. In this schema the bourgeoisie, the self-employed working who engage in simple production are one class. In the model there are two distinctive classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie owns the means of production, and the proletariat are the exploited workers. Both of these classes can be broken down into six classes that make up Wright’s first schema. The supervisors and managers are in a contradictory class because they dominate over the proletariat and yet they are still dominated by the bourgeoisie.
The small employers are both petty bourgeois and bourgeois; and the semi-autonomous employees while they do not own the means of production, they benefit from having more autonomy over their work than the normal proletariat. These classes are based upon exploitation and domination. Exploitation exists between those who own the means of production and those who do not. Domination is measured according to the amount of autonomy that can be exercised by the workers and to which extent they are supervised.
Wright’s second schema involve a 12-class schema and is based upon exploitation. In the second schemata exploitation has three dimensions: ownership of the means of production, ownership of organization assets that permit control and coordination of technical processes of production, and ownership of skills or credentials.
John Goldthorpe’s class schema is to differentiate positions within labor markets and production units, or more specifically to differentiate such positions in terms of the employment relations that they entail. Goldthorpe schema distinguishes the employers, the self-employed, and employees. Within the group of employees eleven classes are defined on the basis of the employment relationship they enjoy. The aim of the schema is to group occupational title/employment relations, and the employment relationships joined by given combinations may differ cross-nationally.
As the theories relate to class stratification, the common characteristic shared by the actors involve the position they occupy in relations defined by labour markets and productive processes.
Class has often been defined as the significant determinant of life chances. The deliberate acts of individual actors are undertaken from a position of social power which is determined by class membership. The resources an individual possesses and the constraints they face and the course of action they take leads to having a higher probability of being undertaken than others. These processes lead to class position becoming a powerful predictor of many kinds of behavior.
The divide between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ is not just a matter of bank accounts. More and more it determines where you live.
We’ve all heard about racial segregation. Whites live one place. Blacks live in another. There are all kinds of ethnic neighborhoods. But in the last 40 years, racial-ethnic segregation has moderated somewhat–although it is still high. But socioeconomic segregation, segregation by class, is on the rise.
“Well, the biggest change is, of course, the shift in the income distribution. We’ve become a much more unequal society in the past three decades,” said Douglas Massey, a Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton.
He was the lead author of a study about this trend toward class segregation which was published in the ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. He said that in the past few years, you can really see the shift as people lose their homes to foreclosure and have to move.
“As fewer and fewer people are in the middle and more and more people are in the extremes, housing markets tend to produce higher levels of social class segregation, higher levels of segregation on the basis of income,” said Massey.
Some people are moving on up and others are moving to the wrong side of the tracks.
In some areas, it gets to the point that teachers, sales clerks, baristas, the guy who puts tires on those nice cars can’t afford to live in the towns where they work. They live in less affluent communities and have to commute to work which adds to their financial burden.
How did we get here?
So how did we get to this greater divide between classes? It started with racial segregation.
After World War II, many white families left cities and moved to newly built suburbs. Federal housing policy kept minorities out. Discriminatory lending practices called redlining also contributed.
Keeping “others” out of certain areas has now evolved to include class distinctions.
June Manning Thomas is a Professor at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.
“We’ve created laws that essentially make it clear that purposefully setting up racial segregation is illegal, but we haven’t done that for class segregation,” Manning said. “So, it’s perfectly legal for people to refuse to live near someone of a different social-economic status. And it’s not only legal, it’s enabled and it’s even praised.”
Laws in Michigan don’t allow zoning codes that completely exclude low-income housing, but talk about potential impacts to property values or of “community character” (whatever that means) is often an effective argument against allowing affordable housing. And zoning codes often restrict areas to big houses on large lots. No one is exactly saying ‘We don’t want those kind of people in our community,’ but there are ways to skirt the intent of the law.
So, it’s still difficult to bring affordable housing to some of these exclusive neighborhoods or towns.
It keeps the classes separate.
In the past a person would go to the grocery store or the post office and run into all kinds of people all across the socioeconomic spectrum–doctors and lawyers running into mechanics and daycare workers, out-of- work people bumping into business owners.
These days in many areas people end up only seeing and talking to people who make the kind of money they do, live in the size of house they do, have the cares and concerns of people just like them. They don’t interact with people of other classes. With no interaction, there’s no basis for empathy for those ‘others.’
And Douglas Massey’s study found this class segregation is accompanied by more ideological polarization. Conservatives are living near other conservatives, liberals living near other liberals. That is amplified by the media they consume. When you and all your neighbors are reading the same columns and watching the same news channel, it creates an echo chamber.
Richard Norton is a department chair at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College. He said in those isolated, wealthier neighborhoods where everybody is doing well, it’s become difficult for them to understand why others are not as successful because they don’t hear about the obstacles the less fortunate face.
“It’s a little bit disingenuous for folks to say, ‘Well, you know, I made it; why can’t those folks make it; we don’t want them in our community,’ and at the same time that we’re systematically taking everything away from those folks that would give them the opportunity to make it themselves,” said Norton.
And the folks who are struggling at the bottom of the economic ladder often assume those who do have more somehow must be gaming the system.
There are few opportunities for the different classes to have real conversations about their perceptions, because they don’t live in the same places.
It would suffice to say that, “ we have created laws that essentially make it clear that purposefully setting up racial segregation is illegal, but we haven’t done that for class segregation,” Manning said. “So, it’s perfectly legal for people to refuse to live near someone of a different social-economic status. And it’s not only legal, it’s enabled and it’s even praised.” We are all humans, created in the likeness of a God, class should not be a barrier or an obstacle in the enjoyment of the quality of life by virtue of harsh distinctions made by humans by virtue of wealth amassed.
A quick question to ponder over.
“How has class affected your life?”