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Tuesday, 25 September 2012 09:37

Chapter 3- SES-notes

Written by David Sheppard
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lChapter 3: Class & Socioeconomic Status

lSocial Class

lFew variables impact a student’s future more than class.

lChildren from privileged classes have advantages at home (for example, computers, books, and travel) to enhance school success.

lThose students from privileged homes have access to the best K-12 schools and the best higher education.

lSocial class often determines the types of employment one can obtain.

lClass Structure Views

One view…

lOne can be socially mobile and can move to higher class with education and hard work.

lHardships of low-income groups are due to their lack of middle class values/behaviors.

lIt’s the individual’s fault for not achieving (blaming the victim).

lClass Structure Views

Another view…

  Distinct class divisions include:

lA privileged upper class who own and control corporations, banks, and so forth.

lMiddle and working classes who make their living selling their labor.

lClass Mobility


lA college education is the most reliable means for social mobility from low income to middle class or higher.

lFamily Background

lFamily background is the major determinant of educational and occupational attainment.

lIndividuals born into wealth are likely to achieve wealth.

lThose born into poverty have difficulty achieving wealth no matter how hard they work.

lHow could these factors affect student behaviors?

lInequities in Class

lMost people in the United Stated receive high or low ranking in the social stratification system on the basis of characteristics over which they have no control. For example, the following groups typically rank lower in prestige:


lIndividuals with disabilities

lThe elderly

lChildren, and

lIndividuals of color

lMembers of those groups may be found at all class levels, but relatively few are at top tiers.

lWhite males are not guaranteed access to top tiers but achieve top levels at disproportionate rates.

lSocioeconomic Status

lSocioeconomic status (SES), or economic condition, is usually based on three determinants: occupation, education, and income. Key term and abbreviation referred to throughout this presentation.

lTwo other factors—wealth and power—in determining SES are closely related, but they often are difficult to determine.

Occupational Prestige


lOccupational prestige is typically determined by the requirements for a job (education and training) and the characteristics of a job.

lBest predictor of occupational prestige is usually the amount of education acquired.

lCompensation is usually higher for occupations requiring more education.


lIncome is the total amount of money that one earns or comes to the individual through various sources—one’s job, investments, royalties, rental properties, and so forth.

lIncome and wealth are not the same.  One can have a high income but little accumulated wealth.

lIncome Disparities

lAverage total compensation for CEOs of the 365 largest U.S. companies in 2004 was $11.6 million.

lAmong persons earning the minimum wage, average annual income was less than $11,000.

lCompared to most industrialized countries, the United States has the greatest gap between high and low wages.


lThe net worth of a family includes savings accounts, insurance, corporate stock ownership, and property.

lTwenty percent of all families have zero or negative net worth.

lThe wealthiest 10% of U.S. households have net worth of $1.3 million or more.

lWealth provides comfort, security, and often power or access to power.

lThe 255 richest people in the world have a combined wealth equal to the annual income of the poorer half of the world population.

lMaintaining Wealth with Education

lChildren of wealthy families typically attend prep schools or better public schools.

lWealth provides them with access to better colleges and universities and better preparation for success.

lWealth provides access to better graduate or professional schools, ensuring perpetuation of the “better life.”


lOccupation generally determines income.

lWhite-collar workers are those that do office work and typically supervise others.

lBlue-collar workers are those that typically do manual labor and work under the supervision of others.

lOne’s occupation is generally an indication of one’s education and degree of authority and responsibility over others.


lEducation is viewed as a way to enhance SES*.

lHigher family SES* means a greater likelihood of entering and completing college.

lIn 2001, the median income of those with a ninth-grade education or less was $18,990.  For those with 4 years of college or more, median income was $55,751.



lThe school one attends may determine access

     into a profession (the best law firms, for example) and the highest compensation.

In a speech by Clarence Thomas, an African American Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, he discussed his Harvard Law degree as worth 29 cents (the value of the paper it was printed on).


lThe school one attends may determine access

     into a profession (the best law firms, for example) and the highest compensation.

He said he was educated at Harvard as part of the quota system. After graduation, no one would hire him because he was black despite his education at a prestigious university. It was an “unspoken agreement” to oppress blacks that was hidden from all but the inside “power brokers.”


lThe school one attends may determine access

     into a profession (the best law firms, for example) and the highest compensation.

The quota system was an attempt to guarantee equal opportunity to minorities. Schools were required to include a certain percentage of minorities in their student populations in order to receive funding or state approval.


lThe school one attends may determine access

     into a profession (the best law firms, for example) and the highest compensation.

In this case, law firms “agreed” in practice that a Harvard degree to a minority individual would be rejected in the “powerful circles” of employment. This is the difficult and hidden means of oppression that it is important to overcome now. A senator hired Clarence Thomas and he credits this individual with giving him a chance to prove himself when no one else would.

l voting

lNinety percent of individuals in families with incomes over $75,000 vote as compared to fifty percent of individuals in families earning less than $15,000.

lUnemployed and Homeless

lIncludes the long-term poor as well as those who are temporarily in poverty due to illness or job loss.

lThe hard core unemployed lack skills to secure and/or maintain a job. That group includes those who have given up and are no longer listed on the government’s unemployed lists.

lThey are the last to be hired and the first to be laid off in bad economic times.

lFamilies in poverty are disproportionately headed by single mothers, and are also often socially isolated.

lThe Homeless

lIn the past 20 years the number of people experiencing homelessness has increased dramatically due to


la lack of affordable housing

ldomestic violence

land/or mental illness, addiction, or estrangement from their families

lThe Homeless

lChildren from homeless families are those at greatest risk for school failure, and they often face limited educational opportunities.

lIf members of this class can find jobs, they are usually the lowest paying, dirty, and dangerous, and typically lack benefits.

lEight million members of this class were unemployed in 2002.

lThe Homeless and Schooling

lBetween 500,00 and 1.3 million children and youth are homeless during any year.

lThe McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act requires public schools to provide educational rights and protections to homeless children and youth.

lSchools cannot deny enrollment to homeless students because they lack traditional enrollment paper work. It is important for us to reach this group.

lThe Working Class

lThe working class includes those involved in manual labor—service workers, crafts and precision workers, farm workers, operators, and others who work under supervision. = Blue Collar workers

lIncome varies widely. Depending on skill requirements, some jobs may pay more than the lower paying professions.

lThe Working Class

lThe working class often has less job security.

lThe working class makes up 40% of employed population.

lThose at low end of pay scale are considered the “working poor.”

lThe Middle Class

lOccupations and incomes vary greatly (between $40,000 and $85,000 in 2004).

lSome middle-class members have comfortable incomes but little or no wealth, little savings, and no protection against catastrophic occurrences.

lThe middle class includes white-collar workers as well as professionals, managers, and administrators, who have more prestige than white-collar workers.

lAbout 37% of all families are considered to be members of the middle class.

lThe Upper Middle Class

lThis group includes the elite of middle class: judges, lawyers, professionals, managers, and administrators, and perhaps physicians, educators, and scientists.

lTheir professions usually require advanced degrees and credentials.

lThe income of some allows a lifestyle different from blue-collar and white-collar workers.

lMembers of the upper middle class typically play an active role in civic organizations.

lThe Upper Class

lThe upper class includes two groups:

lIndividuals and families who control inherited wealth

lHigh-level administrators, controlling stockholders of major corporations, and professionals.


lDisparities in wealth between this class and members of other classes is a astounding—they earn about 411 times as much as the average worker.

lInteraction of Class with Race, and Ethnicity, Gender, and Age

lPoverty is most likely to affect the young, persons of color, women, full-time workers in the lowest paying jobs, and illiterate persons.

lThe poor are a very heterogeneous group.

lTen percent of all U.S. families live in poverty.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Federal Register, Vol. 69, No. 30, February 13, 2004, pp. 7336-7338.

lEthnic Groups in Poverty

lThose in poverty represent the following percentages of ethnic groups:

l8% of Whites

l23% of African Americans

l21% of Latinos

l7% Asian Americans

lCharacteristics of Those in Poverty

lThey are less likely to have a high school diploma.

lThey typically experience unemployment.

lThey represent a group that has had limited access and opportunity to higher education and employment.

lGender Inequality

lWomen earn less and are more likely to suffer from poverty than any other group.

lThe reasons for gender inequality are based on institutional discrimination in a patriarchal society, in which women were expected to be mothers and wives, not part of the formal workforce.

lGender Inequality

lYet, seventy-five percent of married women with children are now working outside the home.

lJobs held by women, however, are typically low prestige and low-paying.

lGender Discrimination

lGender is used to determine (lower) wages for women. (Women on average earn 81% of what men earn for the same job.)

lDiscrimination occurs for women in hiring and job promotions.

lYet, there is currently a greater number of women enrolling in higher education and earning advanced degrees than men.

lAge Inequities

lThe highest incidences of poverty are among youngest and the oldest population groups.

lChildren suffer from poverty rates higher than others.

lMany of the elderly receive financial and medical support from the government.


lMany of the elderly have no pension plans and have only Social Security.

lThe amount of Social Security benefits is dependent on income while participating in the plan.

lThose at low income levels have a low level of benefits.

lSome who worked as private domestic workers have not paid into Social Security and have no regular income in advanced years.

lRole of Education

lAn education is perhaps the best insurance for having a living income.

lSchools must do everything possible to help students complete their education and, if possible, seek higher education opportunities.

lRole of Teachers


lTeachers must work to resist t discrimination based on external characteristics of students.

lInstead of blaming individuals, they must also work to understand conditions that lead to lower SES for students and families.


l“Tracking” is the practice of assigning students to differential classes or school programs based on intellect or language or ability status.

lTracking is typically highly related to social class. A student with a high SES is more likely to be placed in the more advanced track.


lEquity Curricula

lCurricula need to represent views and experiences of all students, not just those in power.

lEquity Curricula

lYou may not wish to share with students the depths of their deprivation. You may not want to discourage them by showing how difficult their path has been. It will help you to realize it.

lFind positive ways to encourage them out. Be realistic in what you demand, but have a high vision of what they can accomplish if they have a mind to do so. Celebrate success.


Last modified on Tuesday, 25 September 2012 09:59