As part of my BSN program I’m taking a Sociology course. Each week we have to answer questions from each chapter and post them to our online discussion board. I’m reposting some of my answers here if I find them to be insightful or conducive to conversation. Our textbook is You May Ask Yourself: An Introduction to Thinking Like a Sociologist, by Dalton Conley.
CHAPTER 7: Stratification
Describe how important your social class has been in determining the outcomes and your life chances. (Provide two or three examples).
For about 98% of my life I have been firmly middle class, with that 2% being simply a +/- margin of error. I’m the eldest child of a single mother of three, and although there were a few times when my mom had to seriously hustle to get her family ahead after a sudden setback, we were fine; not rich, not poor, but not lacking. I don’t think social class impacted my life chances and outcomes as much as my mom’s work ethic and example did. Mom worked hard all her life, finished university while all three of us were in grade school, helped others to a fault, and always tried her best to have a positive attitude. Are those middle class traits? Maybe, maybe not. To me it’s more important that they were her traits. About the only thing I can surely say is an outcome brought about by my social class is the fact that I attended college, that it was drilled into me that college was the way to a well-paying job and stability. And because of being middle class, I qualified for Federal grant assistance (which I basically squandered, but that’s a different topic). Years later, though I now have a much better-paying job than my mom ever did (she was a teacher), I remain part of the middle class, but I don’t let that define me. It simply is what it is, but nothing more than that.
Then describe if and how multiple statuses such as your race, gender, geographic location you were born, etc. intersected in shaping the outcomes?
Geographic location, specifically being in a large urban metro area, is the one status that I think helped most, as it meant I had the best access to all the amenities of modern life, including the public schools I went to, the public university I attended, entertainment, etc. It also helped me in that, by virtue of being middle class, we could afford not to live in government housing projects, which meant I wasn’t exposed to crime and gangs and drugs. Race? We were all Puerto Ricans, whether white or black or mixed, so meh, don’t think so. Gender? Maybe being male helped, but that’s me looking back with today’s oversensibility about gender and privilege coloring things, not something that was obvious in any way. I don’t feel I was a victim of my social class at any point in my life.
Conley, D. (2011). You may ask yourself: An introduction to thinking like a sociologist (2nd ed.). New York: W.W. Norton & Co.