How a person’s social class can affect their success in America?
Social Class in America
The primary aim of the majority of the people of the world is to attain success during the course of their lifetime and it is with this particular purpose that they undertake the various kinds of educational courses and also the vocational courses which are likely to help them to attain the status of being a successful person (Reynolds & Parrish, 2018). However, it is significant to note that the concept of success is a relative one and depends on the manner in which the definition of this particular term is being perceived by the concerned person (Bertaux & Thompson, 2017). It is significant to note that the general idea of the majority of the people about the concept of a successful person is the image of a person who is not only highly qualified, is earning a good salary at the current moment, is being able to cater to all the needs and the requirements of his or her family members in the best possible manner, belongs to an elite section of the society and others (Reynolds & Parrish, 2018). Furthermore, it also seen that the ideas of success or failure are being molded to a great extent by the factors of social class, educational qualifications, the amount of capital the concerned individual had amassed during the course of his or her lifetime, the extent of influence which the concerned individual wields in his or her immediate society and others (Bertaux & Thompson, 2017). However, as already mentioned success is a relative concept and it is not necessary that a person in order to be a successful one needs to embody all these expectations as well as fulfills all these requirements since many times it is seen that even though a person has managed to achieve even half of the above mentioned entities he or she is successful in his or her own right. Therefore, it would be apt to say that the concept of society is not only a relative one but at the same a debatable one. This essay will try to analyze the extent to which the social class of a particular person affects the chances of his or her achieving success in the nation of the United States of America.
The presence of the concept of social class in the particular context of the American society is a debatable fact and has formed the central lacuna of many researches as well as studies since the accidental discovery of the nation by Christopher Columbus in 1492 (Ma & Schapira, 2017). Ma and Schapira (2017) are of the viewpoint that there is not much presence of the system of the class system in the society of the United States of America in the true sense of the term and they generally like to view the nation of America as having the kind of society which is free from the evil of class division. However, it is significant to note that there are various evidences as well as facts that show that even the society of America is redolent with the evil of class system. The nation of America was once a colonial country under the rule of the Britain and even at that particular point of time it was seen that there was a division of the society of America on the basis of the colonizers and the colonized (Danaher, Biggs & Mark, 2016). Thus, it was seen that inspite of being the minority ones in the nation of America these colonizers held the majority of power as well as wealth in the nation of America. Furthermore, even after America gained freedom from the oppressive yolk of the colonizers the class system established by the colonizers had already permeated into the core of the American society and it is one of the major reasons for the fact that even in the present day context of the 21st century the nation of America still shows the signs of the class system albeit in rudimentary form (Danaher, Biggs & Mark, 2016).
Different Classes in American Society
The present day society of the nation of America is being divided on the basis of the wealth amassed by the various citizens of the nation (Reynolds & Parrish, 2018). Thus, it is generally seen that the present day society of the nation is divided into three broad divisions on the basis of the amount of wealth amassed by them into the upper class, the middle class and the lower class (Reynolds & Parrish, 2018). It is significant to note that the people belonging to the upper class are the ones who earn more than $1 million and these people cover up approximately 10% of the total population of the entire nation (Reynolds & Parrish, 2018). It is a reflection of this particular that fact these 10% of the nation not only hold more than 90% of the wealth of the entire nation but at the same time wield the majority of the influence in the society of America and at the same time hold the maximum amount of power in the society (Reynolds & Parrish, 2018). Furthermore, the people belonging to the middle class are the ones approximately $75,000 and cover up more than 40% of the entire population of the nation (Reynolds & Parrish, 2018). It is significant to note that these people are generally considered to be sandwiched between the upper class people of the nation and the lower class of the same. The rest of the people of the nation belong to the lower class section and earn around $10,000-$20,000 per year (Reynolds & Parrish, 2018). However, it is significant to note that this particular division of the society is not a very stringent one people from one particular section of the society can easily move from one to another by amassing more amount of wealth during the entire course of their life.
The nation of America is also sometimes being divided on the basis of the working status of the individuals and with the help of this particular it is generally seen that the people of the nation are being broadly divided into three categories, namely, the working, retired and the business personnel (Bertaux & Thompson, 2017). As mentioned above this is not a stringent form of division and the people are free to change their class level at any time of their lives depending on the factors that whether they are working or not or for that the kind of work that they are doing. However, it is seen that the majority of the population of the nation, that is, more than 45.7% of the entire population belongs to the working section of the nation and this is generally considered to be one of the major reasons for the economic prosperity that the nation is enjoying at the current moment since the majority of the people of the nation are currently either working for some kind of organizations or have established their own business enterprises (Bertaux & Thompson, 2017).
Education and Success
An important fact to note about the society of the nation of America is the fact that the idea of success in the society of the present times is much influenced by the concept of education which the concerned person has received (Ma & Schapira, 2017). Thus, it is generally seen that there are many people in the nation who are viewpoint that one of the most essential prerequisites for the attainment of success in the nation of America is to have a quality education that is going to act as an important tool for the concerned individual to achieve success in the professional world (Ma & Schapira, 2017). It is a reflection of this particular fact that the various Ivy Leagues educational institutions of the nation of America like Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University, Columbia University and others have gained significance in the recent times as the educational institutions which provide the right kind of education to the students that helps them to achieve success in the later part of their lives (Ma & Schapira, 2017). Thus, there is an increasing insistence on the part of the various parents of the nation of America to set their children to these Ivy League colleges and universities with the hope that they would be able to get just the kind of educational as well as professional skills that is likely to help them to gain success in the particular context of the opinion about success held by the society of the nation (Ma & Schapira, 2017). However, Cornuelle (2017) is of the viewpoint that just having an education at these Ivy League educational institutions does not guarantees that a particular person is likely to gain success in the later part of their lives. Actually, it is not the fault of the people of the nation. It is significant to note that since the traditional times the various literary texts as well as the various motions have depicted the image of a successful person as the one who has not only amassed a significant amount of wealth but at the same time have adequate education as well (Cornuelle, 2017). It is a reflection of this particular fact that the idea of the “man of culture” has formed an important part of the American society since the traditional times (Cornuelle, 2017). A pertinent example of this particular fact is the life story of Jay Gatsby portrayed in the American novel “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald in which it is seen that even the protagonist of the novel Gatsby holds an immense amount of wealth he is not given the kind of respect as well as appreciation that is his due because of the fact that he hails from an impoverished background and as not received any quality education (Long, 2017). Thus, it would be apt to say that in the specific context of the American society just having wealth is not good enough to be called a successful but a particular individual at the same time needs to have quality education as well.
The Great American Dream
One of the most important aspects of the American society since 1776, the year in which it gained its freedom from the yolk of British colonialism is the sacrosanct belief in the concept of “The Great American Dream” (Long, 2017). The American Dream can be broadly defined as he belief in the idea that if a particular individual is willing to work hard for the achievement of a particular dream or goal then he or she will be able to achieve to same dream in the land of America (Long, 2017). In short the idea stated that America is a land of opportunity wherein all the people can fulfill their dreams (Long, 2017). This particular idea gained much popularity in the initial decades of the 20th on the score of the literary movement which was heralded by the various literary works of F. Scott Fitzgerald (Long, 2017). This particular concept has been a source of inspiration for the millions of Americans since the 18th century and has led them to work hard and achieve the dreams as well as the goals set by them (Long, 2017). Furthermore, it has actually been seen that an ardent belief in this particular concept has lead many people to achieve a significant amount of success during the course of their life time. Mention here needs to be made about the famous protagonist of the novel “The Great Gatsby” of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jay Gatsby, who inspite of hailing from an impoverished economic background and having no quality education sets out to not only amass a significant amount of wealth but at the same time reclaim the love of his beloved Daisy Buchanan (Long, 2017). However, it is significant to note that this particular concept underwent a lot of corruption in the later part of the century yet even in the present day context of the 21st century not only the American people but at the same time people from the different parts of the world believe in a sacrosanct manner in this particular concept.
The concept of the American Dream although a hypothetical one and at the same time an imaginary one has helped to change the lives of millions of people over the centuries and at the same time has helped them to achieve success (Long, 2017). It is significant to note that some of the people who have achieved success following the ideology of this particular concept have not only defied the social system but at the same time expectations of the society as well (Reynolds & Parrish, 2018). One of the most pertinent examples of this particular fact is the example of Barrack Obama, the first black President of the nation of United States of America (Reynolds & Parrish, 2018). It is significant to note that Obama is a member of the black community which since the traditional times has been looked down upon by the American people yet he was able to not only achieve success but at the same time become the President of America as well. The words of Obama during his Presidential oath ceremony are significant to note in this particular context when he said that “A man whose father would not have been served in a restaurant in America thirty years ago stands before the entire world to take the most sacred oath in the world” (Reynolds & Parrish, 2018). In addition to this, the success achieved by Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and others in the recent times in the nation of America all belong to the same time and it would be apt to say that to some extent all them have defied the traditional norms as well as the perceptions of the American society about the concept of success (Reynolds & Parrish, 2018). In this particular context, mention needs to be made of Bill Gates who dropped out of one of the Ivy League educational institutions, namely, Harvard University to pursue his dreams (Reynolds & Parrish, 2018). Steve Jobs, on the other hand, at one point of time had no money and had to sleep on the streets. Thus, it would be apt to say that there is a need to reconfigure the entire idea of the concept of success (Reynolds & Parrish, 2018).
Danaher, Biggs and Mark (2016) are of the viewpoint that success is not a milestone or a particular destination which a person could reach and declare that he or she has achieved it. Success can be seen as the conglomeration of the achievement of various entities which are important or significant to the concerned individual. However, it is significant to note that the same entities can be meaningless or insignificant for other individuals and it is a reflection of this particular fact that fact the concept of success does not have a concrete definition at the current moment and varies from person to person (Banta, 2015). Furthermore, it is seen that the opinions of the people as well as the society in large are molded by various factors like educational level, social class and others in determining whether success has been achieved by a particular individual or not (Danaher, Biggs & Mark, 2016). Thus, it is seen that even though a person has fulfilled some of the above mentioned criteria to be a called a successful person it is generally seen that the society does not views that particular individual as a successful one until and unless he or she does not fulfills all the criteria. It is a reflection of this particular fact that even though a particular person has quality education and at the same time has amassed a significant amount of wealth yet he is not considered to belong to the category of the successful people if he or she hails from a meager background. The same goes concept applies to the person who has amassed wealth and hails from a sound background but has not received quality education at some of the Ivy League educational institutions.
In the present condition of the American society and precisely in the particular context of the 21st century it is seen that the concept of success has undergone a significant amount of transition on the score of the changing opinions as well as the viewpoints of the people of the nation (Bertaux & Thompson, 2017). It is a reflection of this particular fact that in the present day context it is not only enough to amass a significant amount of wealth or have quality education from one of the Ivy League educational institutions or even hail from a well-cultured family but the most important thing is to have a combination of all these factors and become a “man of culture” (Bertaux & Thompson, 2017). However, it would be apt to say that the people of the present times should focus more on the achievement of the goals or the dreams that they have and the social class or the educational level of a particular person should not be an impediment in the achievement of the goal or the dream that she or he has.
To conclude, the concept of success is a relative one and its meaning or definition depends on the person who is striving to achieve it. For example, to one person the idea of success can be to amass a great amount of wealth whereas to another it can be to become famous. However, it is seen that society since the traditional has set certain norms or guidelines towards reaching the stage wherein one can declare oneself to be successful. Thus, for the society a person can only be successful if he or she is wealthy, comes from a well-cultured family and studied in one of the Ivy Leagued educational institutions and others. However, the definition of success should not depend on these factors and the emphasis should be more on the achievement of the goals or the targets set by the particular individual and not on the social class from which he or she hails or his or her educational qualification.
Banta, M. (2015). Failure and success in America: A literary debate. Princeton University Press.
Bertaux, D., & Thompson, P. (2017). Pathways to social class: A qualitative approach to social mobility. Routledge.
Cornuelle, R. C. (2017). Reclaiming the American dream: The role of private individuals and voluntary associations. Routledge.
Danaher, K., Biggs, S., & Mark, J. (2016). Building the green economy: Success stories from the grassroots. Routledge.
Long, E. (2017). The American dream and the popular novel. Routledge.
Ma, C., & Schapira, M. (2017). The bell curve: Intelligence and class structure in American life. Macat Library.
Reynolds, J. R., & Parrish, M. (2018). Natural mentors, Social class, and college success. American journal of community psychology, 61(1-2), 179-190.
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