Social Class in America

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SOCIAL CLASS IN AMERICA
TEACHER'S GUIDE
by

PEOPLE LIKE US:

Lora Myers
Contributing Editors: Julie Hey Alicia Ellis & Amy Foerster Susan Kempler Eva Abbamonte

Table of Contents
I. INTRODUCTION TO PEOPLE LIKE US: SOCIAL CLASS IN AMERICA ..................... 3 II. PROGRAM OUTLINE .................................................................................. 4 III. PRE-VIEWING ACTIVITIES ........................................................................ 6 IV. POST-VIEWING DISCUSSION AND ACTIVITIES............................................. 6 V. SEGMENT-RELATED QUESTIONS AND ACTIVITIES.......................................... 8 VI. THEME-BASED ACTIVITIES ..................................................................... 19 APPENDIX ................................................................................................. 27 WHAT IS SOCIAL CLASS?.......................................................................... 27 DETERMINANTS OF SOCIAL CLASS .......................................................... 27 VARIABLES OF SOCIAL CLASS ................................................................ 27 FACTS ON CLASS .................................................................................... 28 RESOURCES ........................................................................................... 32 ABOUT THE PEOPLE IN PEOPLE LIKE US ...................................................... 33

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I. Introduction to People Like Us: Social Class in America People Like Us: Social Class in America tackles a question rarely addressed so explicitly in the popular media: Are all Americans created equal -- or are some more equal than others? Over the course of two hours, the documentary reveals that despite our country's deeply-held ideals of egalitarianism and fairness, our citizens are in fact subject to sharp class distinctions and often insurmountable inequalities of opportunity. For viewers and students interested in the sociology and culture of the United States, People Like Us provides an entertaining introduction to a controversial topic. It does not offer a Marxian analysis of one group's exploitation of another, nor does it celebrate the virtues of the capitalist system. Rather, this popular history presents an outspoken group of Americans from diverse locales and even more diverse socioeconomic groups: privileged New York "WASPS," upwardly mobile African Americans in North Carolina, struggling minimum-wage workers in Ohio, proud Georgia "rednecks," blue-collar suburbanites in New Jersey, cliquey Texas highschool students, and more. Through their portraits, People Like Us raises questions about the ways, large and small, in which Americans classify each other, how our inherited social class affects our self-perceptions and our expectations, and how race and other factors complicate an already complex arrangement of social distinctions in our society. Producers Andrew Kolker and Louis Alvarez, who have collaborated on a series of award-winning documentaries on different aspects of American culture since 1979, found People Like Us to be an extremely challenging program to make. Crisscrossing the country to interview hundreds of Americans, they discovered that many of us take our class status for granted, while many others refuse to admit that class differences exist. In making this program, Alvarez and Kolker hope to challenge viewers to rethink their assumptions about class in America and to examine how those assumptions influence their attitudes about their fellow citizens. People Like Us premiered on the Public Broadcasting System and is intended for a general audience. It is also extremely useful for educators who wish to introduce students to basic concepts about social class and about class distinctions in the United States. People Like Us does not pretend to be the definitive documentary about class in America. But it does aim to be a catalyst for discussion and deeper study...
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