One does not make friends by discussing social class in
America. First, we have
the myth that there are no social classes in the United States, and the uneasy
feeling that it is almost unpatriotic to call attention to the subject.
said that, most Americans then claim to fit about one notch higher on the social
scale than they really are. Few take kindly to having their
though chuckling at our foibles may be the sanest response.
There are other myths. People without money think
that if they had it, they would
rise in social stature. But people already in the higher
echelons know full
well that class is mostly a web of attitudes formed in childhood, and seldom
altered. A rich slob is still a slob. The old
saying that it takes three generations
to make a gentleman is probably as true as ever.
Occupation is one of several indicators of social
standing. The upper classes,
for instance, do not work for a living; their money works for them. They will
quickly point out that there are two upper classes, sometimes crudely referred
to as "old money" and "new money." But we need not linger on
distinctions because, if you have a job, are not listed in The Social
Register, and don't
have a stable full of polo ponies, forget it; you're not part of the upper