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What do we mean by "class"?

Class is a relative social rank in terms of income, wealth, education, status/position, and/or power .. Class is also called "social class." Class affects people not only on an economic level, but also on an emotional level. Class is a culture .. Class is comprised of economic capital (how much you have), social capital (who you know), and cultural capital (what you know). There are no hard and fast divisions between class groups ..Income, wealth, and occupational status are on spectrums, and most of us move a little up or down the spectrums during our lifetimes. Immigrants can change class status from their country of orig in to th eir new country. Some people grow up in one class and Iive as adu Its in another. Class operates along a continuu m or hierarchy. Lines may be drawn at different paints along this continuum, and positions can be labeled differently. Class is a relative thing, both subjectively (how we feel) and objectively (in terms of position or resources). Our felt experience often varies depending on whether we look up or down the continuum. However, it is clear that everyone at the top end is mostly dominant with respect to class and gets substantial benefit and privilege, while everyone at the bottom end is mostly subordinate and has limited access to resources and opportunities. For years, class has been a taboo topic. Partly that's because there's been a lack of clarity or understanding of class. There's a lack of shared language around class .. And there are a lot of myths and misperceptions around class mobility and the American Dream. When we talk about class mobility and meritocracy, we're talking about just the tip of the iceberg, what we can see above the water line. Still largely believing that America is essentially a "classless" SOCietywhere hard work results in great rewards, many ignore or deny the existence of class barrlers and class priv.ilege. They credit individuals for all of their successes and blame individuals for all of their failures. Does individual effort matter? Sure. But the bulk of what helps or hinders class mobility is invisible to most of us. It's under the water. . In addition to hard work, the amount of capital-economic, social, and cultural - that a person or fam ily has or has access to can deeply affect his or her chances for success. Likewise, institutional classism and racism can deeply hinder their chances for success. Want to know more? Click here to read an article by our one of our Co-Founders, Felice Yeskel.

What is Classism?

Classism is differential treatment based on social class or perceived social class. Classism is the systematic oppression of subordinated class groups to advantage and strengthen the dominant class group'.S. It's the systematic assignment of characteristics of worth and ability based on social class. That includes: • • individual attitudes and behaviors; systems of policies and practices that are set up to benefit the upper classes at the expense of the lower classes, resulting in drastic income and wealth inequality; the rationale that supports these systems and this unequal valuing; and the culture that perpetuates them.

• •

Classism is held in place by a system of beliefs and cultural attitudes that ranks people according to economic status, family lineage, job status, level of education, and other divisions. Middle-class and owning- or ruling-class people (dominant group members) are seen as smarter and more articulate than working-class and poor people (subordinated groups). In this way, dominant group members (middle-class and wealthy people) define for everyone else what is "normal" or "acceptable" in the class hierarchy. People who are poor/working class sometimes internalize the dominant society's beliefs and attitudes toward them, and play them out against themselves and others of their class. Internalized classism is the acceptance and justification of class ism by working class and poor people. Examples include: feelings of inferiority to higher-class people; disdain or shame about traditional patterns of class in one's family and a denial of heritage; feelings. of superiority to people lower on the class spectrum than oneself; hostility and blame towards other working-class or poor people; and beliefs that classist institutions are fair. People who are middle-class and wealthy sometimes internalize the dominant society's beliefs and attitudes toward them, and play them out a.gainst others. Internalized superiority is the acceptance and justification of class privilege by middle-class and Wealthy people. Class privilege include the many tangible or intangible unearned advantages of "higher" class status, such as personal contacts with employers, "legacy admissions" to higher education, inherited money,. good childhood health care, quality education, speaking with the same dialect and accent as people with institutional power, and having knowledge of how the systems of power operate .. A person from the more privileged classes can be a class ally-a person whose attitudes and behaviors are anti-classrst, who is committed to increasing his or her own understanding of the issues related to classism, and is actively working towards eliminating classisrnon many levels.

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