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Social Status and Classism in United States History

In recent decades, people’s social status and the concept of classism have been assessed through a variety of sociological and psychological perspectives, with many researches tending to refer to citizens’ ability to gain a social prominence as such that closely relates to the environmental factors of their upbringing. For example, the most articles contained in the textbook “Readings for Diversity and Social Justice”, promote particularly the environmental outlook on what makes us different: “Immediately upon our births we begin to be socialized by the people we love and trust the most, our families or the adults who are raising us. They shape our self-concepts and self-perceptions, the rules and norms we must follow, the roles we are taught to play, our expectations for the future, and our dreams” (Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, p. 17). However, the apparent fallacy of strictly environmental approach to the issue of social stratification can be easily recognized by just about anyone capable of utilizing its sense of logic. For example, the future of those born with inherited physical or mental inadequacies is being the least formed by their friends or by particularities of the social environment, surrounding these people, during their childhood years.

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Such people were doomed to represent a burden to society by their parents, who had conceived them without bothering to consult with a physician on whether they could be recommended to have children in the first place. It is goes without saying that it is namely people’s rate of IQ, their health and even their physical attractiveness, which largely defines their chances of becoming productive members of society in the future. Yet, these factors are genetically predetermined; therefore, they have nothing to do with “environmental socialization” by definition. In their groundbreaking book “Bell Curve”, Herrstein and Charles Murray state: “In fact IQ is substantially heritable… For purposes of this discussion, we will adopt a middling estimate of 70 percent heritability, which, by extension, means that IQ is only about 30 percent a matter of environment. The balance of the evidence suggests that 70 percent may err on the low side” (Herrstein and Murray, p. 105). Thus, even though that in many cases, the social inequality among people appears as being artificially created – “some people have their power and wealth because they profit from the labour of others” (Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, p. 43), it would be wrong to suggest that such inequality contradicts the laws of nature. Quite contrary – the concept of equality is nothing but nicely sounding euphemism for the notion of energetic entropy, which is why the true equality can only exist among people (or whatever is left of them) at the graveyard.

Therefore, it would be wrong to suggest that classism causes social inequality among citizens – it is nothing but such genetically predetermined inequality’s by-product. The modern classism is best defined as the variety of subconscious social attitudes, on the part of representatives of ruling elite, who are being forced to formally accept the dogma of people’s equality, as something they pretend believing in. In today’s Western societies, White people continue to enjoy the status of masters, even though to considerably lesser extent, as to what it used to be the case, even as recent as twenty years ago. However, while formally professing their allegiance to the ideals of multiculturalism, many Whites (especially neo-Liberal ones) tend to choose in favor of living in racially secluded “White suburbia”, as such that features “better schools” and “safer living”. In her article “Language and Science: Making Systems of Privilege Visible”, contained in previously mentioned “Readings for Diversity and Social Justice”, Stephanie Wildman makes a perfectly good point, while exposing White Liberals’ existential “progressiveness” as simply another indication that deep inside, they continue to remain racist and classist: “For many White people, making a friend of color means they are able to convince themselves that they must not be racist, because they have this trophy friend” (Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, p. 50).

Thus, we can say that classism derives out of people’s subconscious feeling of superiority, regardless of whether it is the economic, intellectual, or racial one. And, as such, it cannot be effectively dealt with, simply because citizens would never become egalitarians, for as long as the objective reality points out to the fact that human beings are anything but equal. For example, it would prove to be an impossible task, trying to convince a White person with IQ of 150, who can speak several languages and who lives in exclusive mansion on ocean’s shore, that he is absolutely equal to a Black person from Equatorial Guinea, who has an IQ of 45, whose vocabulary amounts to 300-500 words and who lives in primitive hut, made out of dirt, while eating cockroaches for breakfast and drinking water out of rain paddles.

This is the reason why, despite the fact that in sixties, the doctrine of egalitarianism has been proclaimed as conceptual foundation for designing socio-political policies in Western countries, it did not significantly undermine the power of classism, with this concept remaining one of very few social tools, which prevents the national integrity of Western countries from being thoroughly destroyed by promoters of neo-Liberal agenda. Therefore, it is inappropriate to refer to the concept of classism as something inheritably wicked, as most of the articles in “Readings for Diversity and Social Justice” do. Classism is equally capable of assuming very ugly forms, such as moneybags’ unwillingness to even think of those who have less then million dollars in savings as people, and serving as the instrument of protecting a particular society’s structural integrity, such as the establishment of “Christian schools” in “multicultural” America, where White kids can actually concentrate on studying, without experiencing a fear of being beaten up or even shot by those students who seem to be little too committed to “celebrating diversity” as their full time occupation.


Herrstein, R. and Murray, C. 1994. Bell Curve. London: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.

Readings for Diversity and Social Justice. 2000. NY: Routledge.

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