The American Class Structure

By Joseph A. Kahl | Go to book overview

VII
Classes as Ideal Types: Emergent Values

THE MOB GIVE VENT TO THEIR IMPULSES, AND WE DEPRIVE OURSELVES. WE DO SO IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN OUR INTEGRITY. WE ECONOMIZE WITH OUR HEALTH, OUR CAPACITY FOR ENJOYMENT, OUR FORCES: WE SAVE UP FOR SOMETHING, NOT KNOWING OURSELVES FOR WHAT. AND THIS HABIT OF CONSTANT SUPPRESSION OF NATURAL INSTINCTS GIVES US THE CHARACTER OF REFINEMENT. . . . OUR WHOLE CONDUCT OF LIFE PRESUPPOSES THAT WE SHALL BE SHELTERED FROM THE DIREST POVERTY, THAT IT IS ALWAYS OPEN TO US TO FREE OURSELVES INCREASINGLY FROM THE EVILS OF OUR SOCIAL STRUCTURE. THE POOR, THE COMMON PEOPLE, COULD NOT EXIST WITHOUT THEIR THICK SKIN AND THEIR EASYGOING WAYS. WHY SHOULD THEY FEEL THEIR DESIRES INTENSELY WHEN ALL THE AFFLICTIONS NATURE AND SOCIETY HAVE IN STORE ARE DIRECTED AGAINST THOSE THEY LOVE; WHY SHOULD THEY SCORN A MOMENTARY PLEASURE WHEN NO OTHER AWAITS THEM? THE POOR ARE TOO POWERLESS, TOO EXPOSED, TO DO AS WE DO. Sigmund Freud [1]

OF THE VARIABLES we have dealt with so far, value orientations, which were discussed in the first chapter, are the most difficult to point to in the real world. By comparison, money is easy to count, and a man can readily be classified by occupation as a banker or a baker. Even a clique can be seen when a bunch of boys hang around together on a street corner. But who has ever seen a value orientation? Yet we all have seen the manifestations of values. When a mother disciplines her daughter for accepting a date with "that no-good fellow" and says "You ought to know better"; when an American businessman goes into debt in order to buy an expensive house because he and his wife feel that they are the sort of people who ought to live in such a house, when a Japanese soldier commits suicide because he feels that his behavior has disgraced his family and he ought to make amends--then we observe the results of deeply felt values. Whenever people behave according to

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The American Class Structure
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xiii
  • Tables xvii
  • Figures xviii
  • I - The Dimensions of Class 1
  • References 16
  • II - Position and Prestige 19
  • Conclusions 47
  • References 49
  • III - Occupational Prestige and Social Change 53
  • Conclusions 85
  • References 87
  • IV - Income, Wealth, and Style of Life 91
  • Conclusions 119
  • References 122
  • V - The Web of Interaction 127
  • Conclusions 153
  • References 154
  • VI - Class Consciousness and Political Ideology 157
  • Conclusions 180
  • References 181
  • VII - Classes as Ideal Types: Emergent Values 184
  • Conclusions 215
  • References 218
  • VIII - Ethnic and Race Barriers 221
  • Conclusions 247
  • References 248
  • IX - Succession and Mobility: the Occupational Base 251
  • Conclusions 271
  • References 272
  • X - Succession and Mobility: Motivation and Education 276
  • Conclusions 293
  • References 294
  • Index 301
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