Social Class in America
America is a complex and diverse web of individuals marked by social stratification, a system by which a society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy (Macionis, 2011, p.204). The film People Like Us: Social Class in America discusses the class system, social stratification based on both birth and individual achievement, which the American people use to define others (Macionis, 2011, p.206). It explores the many variables that contribute to the determination of a person’s class; such as, ancestry, education, and money. Ancestry will be a main focus because it has such a strong influence on the class system of today. The film provided an informative and entertaining basis for understanding inequality within our nation.
Part 1-Bud or Bordeaux The film introduces the concept of Bud or Bordeaux. The meaning of this title displays how language can invoke a “feeling of class” (Alvarez & Kolker, 2001). According to the film, individuals defined class as having money, how you were raised, and your state of mind (Alvarez & Kolker, 2001). In many cases we use status symbols in order to show others were we should be within the social hierarchy. Status symbols can are displayed through what is known as conspicuous consumption, or buying and using products because of the “statement” they make about social position (Macionis, 2011, p.216). In society, the items that we buy may lead to the determination of our social class. This first part of the film took us through the contrast of classes based on products. We were able to see the pattern of consumption of our nation, such as buying products that are not necessarily needed like a specialty blender. It also discussed the battle between classes when a co-op supermarket took over a Shaw’s supermarket in a working class community. The co-op food was organic and did not sell white bread which exposed the class differences (Alvarez & Kolker,
References: Alvarez, Louis (Producer), & Andrew Kolker (Director). (2001). People Like Us: Social Class in America [Documentary Film]. United States: WETA Washington D.C. in association with the Independent Television Series (ITS). Macionis, John J. (2010). Society. The Basics. (11th Edition). Prentice Hall: New Jersey