Common People: A lyrical discussion/dissection

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i'm talking more about lifestyle and social relationships more than politics -

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:01 (4 years ago) Permalink

the number of arch-conservative poor people is also small

what exactly do you mean by "arch-conservative" here, because I feel like you are glossing over a large invisible-to-white-America cross-section of the American minority experience that can't be summed up by "votes Republican"

feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:01 (4 years ago) Permalink

the number of arch-conservative poor people is also small, no matter how much liberals are terrified of them.

― goole, Friday, September 3, 2010 1:59 PM (31 seconds ago) Bookmark

this is somewhat true, but also misleading. the number of not entirely impoverished but lower-income arch conservatives is VAST.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:02 (4 years ago) Permalink

contenderizer i think you have it exactly backwards -- the cultural baggage of what we mean when we say e.g. "working class" is all very upfront, while the raw dollar values that underly all these things are occluded and take some digging to see clearly.

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:03 (4 years ago) Permalink

where and how are they occluded? i think we might just be talking around each other - about different aspects of life.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:04 (4 years ago) Permalink

i mean, if you're referring to how "hot button" political issues are more about culture and moral beliefs as opposed to economics, then i totally agree.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:06 (4 years ago) Permalink

look, a guy who works in a hard hat and likes country! that's working class! a woman working in an office and bought the new franzen novel, middle class! see, so easy!

i'm saying, no, just, look at what these people are paid for their labor. i think focusing on culture doesn't really open up anything, it's already in the open! it's the $$ that's hidden

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:10 (4 years ago) Permalink

some of the cultural stuff is out in the open, but some of it isn't!

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:13 (4 years ago) Permalink

similarly, lots of people attain wealth quickly but remain chavish

haaa strange to see an american using that term....

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:13 (4 years ago) Permalink

i'm saying, no, just, look at what these people are paid for their labor. i think focusing on culture doesn't really open up anything, it's already in the open! it's the $$ that's hidden

― goole, Friday, September 3, 2010 5:10 PM (3 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

otm

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:14 (4 years ago) Permalink

...and that, i think, its what's going on in the song, like i argued upthread. the girl wants to play around with a culture that looks free and fun, and the guy is trying to get her to see that it's the (materially) constrained nature of that life that makes it what it is.

xp to myself

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:15 (4 years ago) Permalink

and how much someone gets paid for their labor is only so determinant. How dependent is that person on a particular company, or industry, and what are their working conditions? Like, city bus drivers make pretty good money. But they have to drive a bus, and wear crappy polyester uniforms, and take shit from customers, and let's say they get tired of being a bus driver, what else are they qualified to do? Compare that to a community college professor (who makes about the same amount) - the professor gets an office, gets to more or less wear what they want, they get to be treated with dignity and respect, etc.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:17 (4 years ago) Permalink

some of the cultural stuff is out in the open, but some of it isn't!

― sarahel, Friday, September 3, 2010 4:13 PM (2 minutes ago)

What are some examples of the stuff that isn't?

Donovan Dagnabbit (WmC), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:17 (4 years ago) Permalink

let's take milo's example of being worried about money. This seems to be something that is common to people who grew up working class - whereas someone who grew up middle class or higher (barring traumatic event to the family where they had serious problems), has less of a panic about it, because they're used to being comfortable.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:20 (4 years ago) Permalink

^^ this actually kinda goes back to the song

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:20 (4 years ago) Permalink

yes, that's the "on the surface" shit i'm talking about! bus drivers are more 'low class' than professors. i think in class discussions you have to run the "determinance" the other way -- what does the surfacey class stuff buy you? the bus driver in his shitty uniform and the comm college professor with his office (yeah right, btw), turns out they aren't different

xp

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:21 (4 years ago) Permalink

...that has nothing to do with culture! if you grew up working class, you don't have a safety net. if your parents have $$$, you do!

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:22 (4 years ago) Permalink

xp

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:22 (4 years ago) Permalink

sure they are different! the community college professor gets summers off - they could take their family on a long vacation somewhere improving. their work conditions make it easier for them to remain physically healthy. they have education and the trappings of such (e.g. books) to pass down to their children, so they can get a head start on attaining a good class position.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:23 (4 years ago) Permalink

that's assuming the parents with $$ are going to give it to you if you need it, horseshoe. and if you've actually experienced poverty or financial struggle, it is highly likely you are going to have a different attitude to it than someone who hasn't!

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:25 (4 years ago) Permalink

yeah, i'd echo sarah's question. when we say "working class", we typically mean blue collar workers & menial laborers, probably making enough to get by, many living quite comfortably and able retire early, depending on their line of work. then again, many struggling at the very edge of destitution. it's a range.

when we say "middle class" we mean another range: white collar & professional workers who might make less money than well-paid members of the working class, but often make a good deal more, theses blending into small businessmen and entrepreneurs, marx's petit bourgeois.

and our "upper class" are the wealthiest elite, including political & corporate movers and shakers, old money pseudo-aristocrats - basically people who don't have to worry about money, but do anyway.

note that this rather self-evident set of divisions doesn't have anything to do with cultural class. these are simply the wealth-based tears that incubate the cultural class stuff.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:26 (4 years ago) Permalink

because what poverty means is not having money!

xp

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:26 (4 years ago) Permalink

the song doesn't have a lot to do w/ these nonfinancial class signifiers

i'm pretty sure it could be transposed to 2010 america w/ minimal edits

smc = risd?
common ppl = regla folks? workin joes?

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:27 (4 years ago) Permalink

but the fear of not having money, when you are ok for now, or even comfortably off - the way one lives one's life, the things they value - that are a result of experiencing poverty, are cultural.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:28 (4 years ago) Permalink

in the US this would have to be an alt-country song, probably

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:29 (4 years ago) Permalink

doesn't the contrived folksiness of those ethnonyms for the ppl just above white trash repulse yr LATTE LIBERALS?

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:30 (4 years ago) Permalink

that last post to goole. agree that well-paid blue collar workers make as much as or more than bottom-rung middle class professionals. but this equivalence is a mirage, because you're looking only at the point where the classes overlap. at the other end of the working class/middle class intersection, the lives of 50-year-old minimum wage menial laborers trying to support families have almost nothing to do with those of successful small businesspeople and white collar professonals (doctors, lawyers, business administrators, bankers, etc).

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:30 (4 years ago) Permalink

looking back, "wealth-based tears" was supposed to be "wealth-based tiers..."

lol

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:31 (4 years ago) Permalink

wtf you've come up with a schema that cuts across wealth lines, and then declared it to be "wealth-based tiers"

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:31 (4 years ago) Permalink

i mean - cops in big cities make six figure salaries - up there with lawyers - but the lawyer is less likely to get knifed or shot on the job.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:32 (4 years ago) Permalink

p.sure the chick is actually greek btw, which is obv v.much u&k

whoa...did I or didn't I? (cozen), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:33 (4 years ago) Permalink

no, i've quoted (not really come up with) a common way to understand class divsions in america, one that's primarily wealth-based, but which allows a fair degree of overlap where the tiers meet.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:33 (4 years ago) Permalink

the common way is wrong

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:34 (4 years ago) Permalink

that's a pretty simplified version of class divisions though

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:34 (4 years ago) Permalink

re, sarah: yeah, there's a point at which the income available from blue collar jobs begins to seriously complete with what most white-collar professionals only hope to make. in drawing a distinction between blue and white collar work, i'm kind of hedging with regards to class & culture, because the income division between the two is unclear. but it makes sense for the most part, and given that there just have to be gray areas in a discussion like this, i'm willing to accept the imprecision.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:38 (4 years ago) Permalink

i agree that divisions i proposed are reductively simple, but i'm shooting for serviceable shorthand here. alternate suggestions appreciated.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:40 (4 years ago) Permalink

why are you doing it tho?

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:42 (4 years ago) Permalink

OK here's a scenario and then a question.

An American couple. Husband grew up comfortably middle-class, but his parents both grew up during the Depression and have always been obsessed with having "enough" money, and have passed that obsession with money/fear of debt on to the son. The wife grew up really dirt poor, lived in a tar-paper shack until she was six, also to Depression-era parents who worried less about $$$ because they had less interest in what money could buy. The man and the wife meet, marry, and instantly accumulate $25K in credit card debt. The wife's blithe attitude is that you're never broke as long as you still have some Available Balance left; the husband is terrified every day that his life is about to cave in. The husband assumes control of the family finances and spends the next ten years whittling $25K in debt down to zero.

Who has lived a life with more financial struggle, the husband or the wife?

Donovan Dagnabbit (WmC), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:42 (4 years ago) Permalink

why are you doing it tho?

umm, because the question had been raised, it interested me, and i was trying to have a conversation about it. wtf?

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:45 (4 years ago) Permalink

Who has lived a life with more financial struggle, the husband or the wife?

can't really answer the question. but you've posed it in such a way as to suggest that the answer = the husband.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:47 (4 years ago) Permalink

the differences between (some fom of) middle class and working class are complex but given enough exposition you'd probably agree w/ any given poster which group [random person] fell into

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:50 (4 years ago) Permalink

regardless of whether you're making the distinctions solely on material wealth, you kinda have this:

super rich - inherited wealth or investments will prevent them from being poor for the rest of their lives
rich - wealth is dependent on a certain amount of earned income
upper middle class - quite comfortably off, can generally afford to pay for a child to attend a private college (their kids tend to go to these, or else a well-regarded state school - they pay attention to college rankings)
middle class - comfortable, can generally afford to pay for a child to attend a 4 year state university - want their kids to get a quality education but in something reasonable so they can get a job and support themselves
working class - their ability to maintain living standards above the poverty level is contingent on a lot of things, they don't want to be poor or for their kids to be poor
poverty - barely subsisting, may not be on government assistance (which if they're not, they might really resent those who are)

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:50 (4 years ago) Permalink

disagree w/ x-post. again, this comes from concentrating only on the point at which working and middle class begin to meet and overlap. the lives and cultures of the working (very) poor and the comfortably (not quite super) wealthy have very little in common.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:53 (4 years ago) Permalink

yeah, i'd echo sarah's question. when we say "working class", we typically mean blue collar workers & menial laborers, probably making enough to get by, many living quite comfortably and able retire early

wait what

a cross between lily allen and fetal alcohol syndrome (milo z), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:53 (4 years ago) Permalink

the differences in england largely relate to a more dissimulated vocabulary (eg you'll seldom hear the term umc) and more anxiety about belonging

the basic schema outlined by sarah and contenderizer applies to all advanced capitalist economies

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:55 (4 years ago) Permalink

difficult to talk in exclusion about cultural aspects without lapsing into narcissism of small differences

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:56 (4 years ago) Permalink

see, that's where it gets tricky - because (an ever decreasing number, but there are still some) blue collar workers and people in related professions (fire fighters, cops) do have comfortable salaries and pensions - so in some ways they are middle class, but can sometimes have working class lifestyles/attitudes

i think it's complicated

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:57 (4 years ago) Permalink

disagree w/ x-post. again, this comes from concentrating only on the point at which working and middle class begin to meet and overlap. the lives and cultures of the working (very) poor and the comfortably (not quite super) wealthy have very little in common.

― having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:53 (3 minutes ago)

that's exactly what i'm saying, like in the case of a 50 y/o cop w/ a permanent desk job, 10% more than median salary, maybe you'll get contrasting answers

90% of the time it's fairly clear cut tho

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:59 (4 years ago) Permalink

here's another example for the class = money only side. What about drug dealers/growers? Let's say you have a modest operation and net $150,000/yr operating a meth lab ... are you of the same class as a computer programmer making the same salary?

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:00 (4 years ago) Permalink

and kind of disagree w sarah's more nuanced breakdown. only cuz it seems to cap "middle class" far too low - this is what leads to the idea that the middle and working classes are functionally identical, share common interests.

i'd argue that really only the super rich are "upper class", like landed gentry, living lives entirely separate from those of the "lower classes." i.e., the owners of large corporations and/or family fortunes, the very wealthiest of celebrities and investment bankers, etc. people who measure their annual income in the millions. less than that, you're probably middle class, though perhaps "upper middle class", as they say. and if you make substantially less than six figures, you're not probably not middle class at all, not even "lower middle class", regardless of your profession. you're working class, though that doesn't necessarily mean poor.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:02 (4 years ago) Permalink


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