Social class position is a role played by an individual within society. This role is not always permanent as societal changes can result in variations of a person’s social class position. The changes result in either positive or detrimental effects on the individual. The movie “The Company Men” is a film that has been able to portray these changes. Premiered in 2010, the movie shows what employees of a global corporation called GTX went through during the global recession in 2010. Many factors in the economic world led to loss of jobs, housing, and wealth. Thus, many people faced different problems in society as they tried to adapt to the new economic period. This led to changes in their social class position.
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Social class position is a label given to an individual based on their socioeconomic level. Even though the class position consists of more than two levels, many people consider it as having only two levels. This means that the society is categorized into either rich or poor. Those in the middle level are, in many instances, not considered. Moreover, they are considered to be a wide and varied group, thus proving hard to broadly define the group. With social position arises social mobility. This means that the positions are not permanent, and an individual can move from one position to another (Saad 109).
One of the characters, Bobby Walker, is an employee of the multi-billion dollar corporation. He began at a lower status and has invested his time in the company as a faithful employee. After many years, Walker has been able to attain a good position within the company. Dealing with outplacement services from the company, he has been able to make over 100,000 dollars a month. He is able to afford all the luxuries of life and enjoy them with his family. He was able to change the social status of his life due to his hard work. Moreover, the individuals he interacts with have the same wealth and resources that he has. For instance, he is a member of a country club. The members-only club is frequented by the wealthy. Thus, these individuals have been able to detail the characteristics that can be expected of a person with their social standing. Walker’s family also gains from his social position. For instance, his wife can access helicopter services when she wants. Such luxuries are a preserve of the wealthy, which comprise the highest social class position in society.
This lifestyle was the norm for many years, until the recession occurred. Consequently, Walker was fired from his job and he was forced to change his lifestyle. With lack of constant cash flow to maintain his previous lifestyle, Walker had to make financial choices that would be suitable for his current social position. He went to further extents like selling his vehicle and mortgaging his house so that he could survive without employment. Initially, he was able to enjoy such luxuries as this was what his social status position afforded him. With the loss of work, the reality hit him that he was unprepared for a position in life without his job at the GTX Corporation.
The second character is Phil Woodward. He is a senior manager at GTX Corporation. He has worked for the company for many years. With time, Woodward has climbed through the ranks and now holds a higher office. Despite his position, he still loses his job due to the cutbacks in the company. These two characters are seen to have a similar social class position. In the company, they were characterized by wealth. These are the elements that can be seen as characteristics of being in a higher social class. In the current society, power and wealth have been significant determinants of where a person is ranked socially. Both characters lost their higher social stands after the loss of employment.
After the layoff, Walker becomes his brother-in-law’s employee. He is tasked with installing drywall, a job that can be considered to be ranked socially lower that his previous job. Woodward, in his new social status, loses all his friends. Thus, the individuals a person interacts with are seen to be in equal social status with the person. The social class position of a person determines their interactions in life. It also determines how a person is viewed in life. Both characters began in lower social positions. They have been able to improve their lifestyle because of their jobs. Despite this, there were unforeseen problems that restored their previous social positions (Saad 109).
The social class position change affects every individual in different ways. People are more willing to go higher in the social class. Many individuals are impacted differently when their positions change from a higher social class to a lower social class. Some will accept the changes that have occurred, while it will be harder to adapt to some. Thus, each position has various characteristics that a person has to have to be considered part of that social class. When the person loses the said characteristic, they also lose their social position in society. In Walker’s case, the change was abrupt, but he was able to adapt to the change. He sold his car, house, and lost his country club membership. This was done since it would be harder to maintain a higher social class without finances. In Woodward’s case, his wife requested him to continue with the daily routine to conceal his lack of employment. His family had attained a social class that would be hard for them to change (Saad 100). It was harder for him to find employment as he was considered old and not suitable for the jobs that existed.
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In the end, Woodward was not able to maintain his social status. He was faced with increasing financial problems. At home, Woodward’s bills were increasing and he was certain he would not be able to afford his daughter’s college fees. With loss of work, he lost many friends who realized they were no longer within the same social position. Woodward committed suicide because of the problems.
In the current society, social position is determined by wealth, power, and popularity. A person will be ranked differently with the loss of all of these. The levels of ranking are either vertical or horizontal in nature within the greater society. In the film, the characters portrayed both vertical and horizontal social class positions within society. While under employment, they shared a horizontal social position. This meant that those within their position were equal in most aspects. Thus, both Walter and Woodward were equal based on their wealth. This is the same case after the loss of employment. The vertical social position is characterized by either having a high social class position in society or a low social class position. Thus, having either a blue collar job or a white collar job can determine a person’s position within society. In this regard, individuals holding white collar jobs are considered to be in a higher social class.
In conclusion, every individual in the society has a specific social class position. The position can easily be altered by occurrences within society. In the film, loss of employment was the reason for changes in social class positions. The resulting effects were different on each individual. Thus, social class position is not guaranteed for any person.
Saad, Gad. Evolutionary Psychology In The Business Sciences. New York, NY: Springer, 2011. Print.