The Position of People in Society

Interviewee Information

The first interviewee’s name is Jordan. She is a thirty-five-year-old black woman with two children and a husband. Jordan states that she identifies herself as African-American and that she was born in the US. She also says that she is currently working two jobs in order to sustain her family. Jordan works at a factory and a diner. According to the information provided by the interviewee, Jordan belongs to the working class as her occupation involves physical labor and service work. As Lindsey (2015) states, many black women are forced to work multiple jobs as their income is not as high as that of men or white women. While the pay gap based on gender inequality lowers the possible amount of money that a woman can get, racial differences further increase the disparity of incomes between white, black, and Latina women (Beeghley, 2015). Jordan’s husband has similar working experience.

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The second interviewee is Filip, a twenty-six-year-old man. Filip is white, and he reports that he moved from Poland to the United States with his parents at a very young age. The interviewee does not identify with the Polish culture as his parents tried to help him assimilate into society and, thus, did not discuss Polish history and customs with him. Recently, Filip started to learn about his ancestry, and he even visited Poland multiple times in order to study the culture of his family. However, Filip does not feel any particular connection to the European country and identifies himself as American. Filip is not married and has no children, although he has a significant other. The interviewee is currently working as a freelance photographer, mostly interacting with magazines and advertising companies. Filip’s income and way of living indicate him being a part of the middle class. According to Lindsey (2015), people with higher education or a white-collar job can be attributed to this social group. Filip fits this description as he has a college degree in photography.

The Role of Stratified

It is clear that Jordan and Filip’s identity components such as race, class, and gender play a big part in their current place in society. These aspects can also be called stratifies as they separate people into specific categories. For instance, Jordan is a black woman, and her race most probably affects not only her own choices but also the opportunities that were available to her throughout her life. Jordan says that she encountered some inequality while trying to find a job. The woman explains that she did not receive a higher education because her parents were unable to afford to pay for the university while still supporting other members of the family. Thus, she chose to work after finishing high school. According to Beeghley (2015), many black households struggle economically due to complicated reasons that can be linked to racial prejudice. Jordan also reports encountering some racial inequality at work. She mostly speaks about people’s attitudes and does not relate to having a lower income to her race. However, she does see a connection between her low income and gender.

According to Landry (2016), black women are often pressured to work in jobs with a lower status due to their race and their gender as well. Thus, Jordan’s occupation and her class can be linked to these two stratifies. In turn, Jordan’s status also influences some of her life choices, although she does not recognize it. For example, her schedule is somewhat hectic, which explains her unhealthy eating choices. Her well-being is damaged by the fact that she cannot eat healthy food on a regular basis. Moreover, she cannot get enough sleep as she has to work and raise her children. While her husband helps her at home, he is also busy at work. Moreover, Lindsey (2015) argues that working-class women often do more housework than their middle-class counterparts. Thus, while Jordan does not connect these two facts together, she states that she does more household chores than her husband.

Filip’s case offers another picture as he is different from Jordan in many ways. First of all, Filip is white. Although he can be considered an immigrant, he does not acknowledge that fact as something that substantially affects his everyday life. This particular attitude can be explained by the fact that Filip is not a part of a minority group, which is often viewed differently in the case of immigration (Beeghley, 2015). Filip notes that his experience at school was close to those of other white children that were born in America. The interviewee’s lack of self-identification and stratification can be explained by his gender as well. Filip does not link the fact that he is male to any specific negative experiences, only remarking that he worked hard to get his degree. Moreover, he does not recall any incidents of rude or disrespectful behavior at work that could be caused by his identity characteristics. As opposed to Jordan, who states that her gender often prompts her male co-workers to speak to her in a dismissive tone, Filip does not consider this aspect of his identity at all.

Filip realizes that he and his family are a part of the middle class, although he argues that his achievements are not connected only to this fact. However, he admits that his parents helped him with the university’s tuition. Thus, Filip’s class also plays a significant role in his life. While Filip shows that he is an ambitious and determined person, his opportunity to work as a freelancer and devote more time to his hobbies and traveling is an indicator of the middle class being a strong influence in the man’s life (Lindsey, 2015). Filip’s education, as well as his choice of profession, can be explained by the family’s socioeconomic capabilities. Moreover, Filip’s everyday life is affected as well as he has very active and money-consuming hobbies such as snowboarding and mountain climbing.

Sociological Perspective

To examine the roles of particular structures that affect the interviewees’ lives, one can use a macro theory. Macro approaches investigate the connections between the major structures of society, such as government, social class, and gender (Strasser, 2014). For instance, conflict theory discusses the way these structures create a system in a society that enforces inequality for certain groups. By exploring the identities of the two interviewees through this particular theory, one can pinpoint the differences in their opportunities and capabilities. According to conflict theory, Jordan’s need to work two jobs can be explained by her gender and class. Here, gender is seen as a factor that can influence one’s social, economic, and political life. The conflict is created between men and women, and women are reported to have more negative experiences in all spheres of life. Thus, while Jordan realizes that her gender affects her life, Filip remains unaware of his privilege.

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Furthermore, the differences between classes are also explained by the conflict theory. The earliest versions of this approach were focused on the differences between the poor and the wealthy, arguing that the latter was more influential in society (Strasser, 2014). For instance, the fact that Jordan cannot pursue a healthier lifestyle can be linked to the lack of alternatives available to her class. Filip’s hobbies can also be viewed through the lens of opportunity and influence granted by his status.

Interview as a Research Methodology

Using interviews in one’s research can have some benefits and drawbacks. Firstly, the information presented by the individuals is highly subjective, which may lead to some misinterpretations and mistakes. Interviewees can inflate some facts or fail to mention important details. Furthermore, interviews are harder to systematize than questionnaires and other methods of data gathering. The amount of accumulated data depends on the communicative capabilities of the interviewer. These are the limitations of this methodology. However, interviews offer an insight into one’s way of thinking, giving people enough freedom to express their thoughts in a simple and identifiable manner. Moreover, it is a more individual approach that can show the unique characteristics of different persons and groups.

Specific Components of Culture

Jordan’s culture influences her decisions that are connected to family. According to Lindsey (2015), family systems are often affected by one’s social heritage. For instance, Jordan’s role in the household is to be more present in the lives of her children than her husband. She admits that her mother influenced her decision to get married quite early, which Jordan links to the culture and the place of gender roles in her community. On the other hand, Filip was raised with an emphasis on individuality, which could be contributed to his class and race. Beeghley (2015) states that many middle-class families support personal achievements and independence, while working-class families value close ties and obedience. Moreover, Jordan was raised in a religious household, which also affected her life. Filip’s parents abstained from teaching him about any particular faith, and he did not acquire any religious beliefs. His loss of Polish culture can be seen as a notable feature as well. The two interviewees have distinctly different cultural backgrounds, which can explain their current behaviors and choices.

References

Beeghley, L. (2015). Structure of social stratification in the United States (5th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Landry, B. (Ed.). (2016). Race, gender and class: Theory and methods of analysis (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Lindsey, L. L. (2015). Gender roles: A sociological perspective (6th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Strasser, H. (2014). The normative structure of sociology (RLE social theory): Conservative and emancipatory themes in social thought (Vol. 47). New York, NY: Routledge.

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