Reaction 3 for ECO/SOC 935

I find the concept of class division rather intriguing. I already knew that there were economical classifications corresponding to people’s income and standard of living. For example, the middle class is the segment of the population which generally has a stable income, a higher education, and some but not several economical hardships. Accordingly, the upper class is the wealthier section of the population, with easier access to better quality of education, more income and more economical influence. Obviously, the working class with correspondingly lower income comprehends the vast majority of people. They include also the underemployed, the working poor, and the destitute. I also knew that ascending the social ladder from one class to the next is not something many people are able to accomplish during the course of their lifetime and it may take several generations. Sadly, the middle class seems to be shrinking, and the gap between the very rich and the extremely poor is widening.

What I did not know was that there were more than one ways of describing how the classes worked. In fact, there are three categories for social classes: the Individual Attributes approach, the Opportunity Hoarding approach, and the Domination and Exploitation approach. The first associates class mainly with personal characteristics, the material conditions and the quality of life of individuals, the second is about how certain social groups can control resources while limiting other groups’ access, and thus form classes, and the third identify class with the amount of control people in advantaged economic positions hold over the lives and activities of people in other groups. This way of identifying class seems to highlight the intentional and systematic divisions that those more privileged impose upon those with fewer resources.

It also strikes me as innovative what I learned from Jerry Mander, Erik Olin Wright and Joel Rogers. They suggest a different approach to taxation; their interesting and novel ideas seem to offer a balanced solution to the present income tax. Notably, I appreciate Mander’s point of taxing advertisements. He mentions that publicity should be counted as “mental pollution” and should be taxed by the amount employed. I think this would be a plausible way of cutting down on the consumerist drive that capitalist corporations wish to instill in the public. Additionally, the notion of Progressive Consumption Taxation that Olin Wright and Rogers write about makes sense to me. It is a tax on the part of the income people use to buy goods instead of a tax on their total income. Furthermore, the rate of the tax would steeply increase as the level of consumption rises. In addition to curbing consumerism, this method of taxation would work toward easing the weight of taxation off of the shoulders of the poor. The weight would be distributed more equitably across the population, as opposed to the model in which taxation is equal for everyone. The difference between “equality” and “equity” is that equality can be achieved without fairness: everyone is given the same amount of a resource, and then they are on their own. Equity means that everyone is given the resources needed to be on the level as everyone else, and therefore have a fair opportunity.

I cannot think of any remaining questions I have after viewing this week’s material. But what I think shocked me most was the fact that certain corporations have gotten to the point of creating advertisements for their merchandise that actually teach children to nag their parents for a specific product (Olin Wright & Rogers 109). I believe this is advertisement possibly at its worst. Adults sometimes can realize that they only think they want something because a TV advertisement told them so, although this is not always the case (Cole noted in the use of Apple products, but the phenomenon work for all advertising); but children cannot make this distinction. I believe that this kind of publicity should be stopped and that opposition should persist, even though past efforts have been shockingly put down.

Works Cited

Cole, Nicki Lisa. “Apple’s Seductive Brand Promise: Cultural Capital & Social Mobility.” The Society Pages. (2013). Web. 7 September 2013.

Mander, Jerry. The Capitalism Papers: Fatal Flaws of an Obsolete System. Berkley: Counterpoint, 2012. Print.

Olin Wright, Erick, and Joel Rogers. American Society: How it Really Works. New York: Norton, 2011. Print.

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