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Thread: What do you consider middle class?

  1. #11
    Senior Member gimmethesimplelife's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bae View Post
    Jocular guideline:

    If you rent your furniture, you are lower-class.
    If you buy your own furniture, you are middle-class or new money.
    If you have ancestral furniture, you are comfortably upper-class, even if you are poor.

    Perhaps of interest:

    "Class: A Guide Through the American Status System", Paul Fussell

    "Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There", David Brooks

    "White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America", Nancy Isenberg

    "The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Affects the Way We Think, Live, and Die", Keith Payne

    "Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis", Robert D. Putnam

    "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America", Barbara Ehrenreich

    "The Sum of Small Things: A Theory of the Aspirational Class", Elizabeth Currid-Halkett

    "People Like Us: Social Class in America", Charles Murray

    "Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams", Alfred Lubrano

    "Inequality in the Promised Land: Race, Resources, and Suburban Schooling", L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy

    "Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right", Arlie Russell Hochschild

    "Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City", Matthew Desmond
    Going by your guideline, where does buying your own furniture, but buying it secondhand fit? I've looked at new furniture and not only does the price completely turn me off, what I have seen is of shoddy construction and appears poorly made. This is not just my being frugal - I can't rationalize spending THAT MUCH money on something not built well when less expensive AND at the same time higher quality options exist. So, once again, where does this fit into your guidelines? Rob

  2. #12
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gimmethesimplelife View Post
    This is one of very few markers of being an American gay male that I actually fit. I LOVED that show! Especially Blanche but they were all good in their parts. Rob
    I know more than I want to know about Blanche given the decades I lived in a gay man paradise, my historic neighborhood.
    I am not a serious person.

  3. #13
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Cheer up, Rob. Maybe you're lower middle class!

    I think if you consider the difference in strata among lower vs middle vs upper middle class, here's a possible description: lower middle class as having less income but being able to achieve material and job stability with few struggles. Upper middle class would be more aspirational--having incomes that enable them to sometimes mingle with the uppercrust at country clubs and prep schools but still feel insecure there. They would more likely be savers and investors but I would suspect there is a lot of conspicuous consumption for those folks.

    Middle-middle class would be somewhere in the middle.
    Last edited by catherine; 3-4-24 at 7:01pm.
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  4. #14
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    To me, class seems to be largely a state of mind. I have always considered us working class - so that would be more lower middle class, maybe? My father was quite pointed about it, so I guess I just absorbed that. He was brought up farming, and went into blue collar/factory work because it paid better, was easier, and was a steady paycheck. DH is/was a blue collar worker, although his father was a middle manager at a large company and he - FIL- considered himself middle class. But - my father collected antiques (because he loved them), and raised orchids in his own greenhouse, back in the 60s when orchids were quite exotic. We had horses, and I spent several years on the local horse show circuit. Looking back, that looks more like a middle class lifestyle, but that's not what we kids were brought up to believe. Like middle class was "uppity" or something? Odd how I didn't really think much about that. I remember once I came home from school and asked why everyone else had a lunch box and I had a dinner bucket (that looked like everyone else's lunch box) my mother told me that town people had lunch and dinner. Country people had dinner and supper. I rented a house right after moving out of my parent's home, but bought a house when we married (at 21), so if property ownership is a class marker, we have that! Interesting food for thought.

  5. #15
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by early morning View Post
    To me, class seems to be largely a state of mind. I have always considered us working class - so that would be more lower middle class, maybe? My father was quite pointed about it, so I guess I just absorbed that. He was brought up farming, and went into blue collar/factory work because it paid better, was easier, and was a steady paycheck. DH is/was a blue collar worker, although his father was a middle manager at a large company and he - FIL- considered himself middle class. But - my father collected antiques (because he loved them), and raised orchids in his own greenhouse, back in the 60s when orchids were quite exotic. We had horses, and I spent several years on the local horse show circuit. Looking back, that looks more like a middle class lifestyle, but that's not what we kids were brought up to believe. Like middle class was "uppity" or something? Odd how I didn't really think much about that. I remember once I came home from school and asked why everyone else had a lunch box and I had a dinner bucket (that looked like everyone else's lunch box) my mother told me that town people had lunch and dinner. Country people had dinner and supper. I rented a house right after moving out of my parent's home, but bought a house when we married (at 21), so if property ownership is a class marker, we have that! Interesting food for thought.
    yes, the horror of the dreaded petite bourgeois, or the insulting “bougie” for short! And in the UK they say “middle class” with such a sneer!

    I am middle class, born that way, will die that way. I find it to be a very freeing sort of existence with none of the limitations of poverty and none of the burdens of responsibility of generational wealth.

    Of course, millions of middle class Americans manage to stress themselves out over stupid consumerism and poor financial choices, but those are largely their own decisions landing them in stress land.

    EM that is cool about your father’s decidedly upper middle class hobbies!
    I am not a serious person.

  6. #16
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    I am middle class, currently, how I was raised etc. It's not an ideological position, do I generally relate to middle class ways of being? In many ways no, I can go real hard on critiques of the middle class and be real critical of how many of them are, excessive, wasteful, insulated.

    But that's like saying one agrees with white supremacy if they happen to be of European stock, or even that one is "USA! USA! USA!" if one simply admits one is an American. Nah. Those aren't ideological positions and neither is being middle class. Frankly I think it's very hard to make it here in California if one ISN'T well into middle class. I know people do OF COURSE, but it's struggle bus all the way. This is no country for poor people (relax I'm not banning any poor people, just realistic about how hard it is to stay above water). If you aren't living paycheck to paycheck and worrying about how to pay next months bills, yea you are probably pulling in a middle class income here.
    Trees don't grow on money

  7. #17
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    Back when my 100 year old neighbor was alive, her and her daughter told me middle class, at least back in the 50's, meant you had a house with electricity, a tv, a refrigerator (not an icebox), one car and if you were lucky, a/c. That is kind of what I have based my view on, honestly. Now her grandson and my friend in the Marshall service, I am sure would have a much different expectation with his education, language skills, and travels that he has done.

    As for a couch, well I haven't had one for decades, until my friend passed and I ended up with his beat up "cat couch" upstairs. Why you ask, because I have only ever had myself to move my own furniture. Family has enough medical issues, that I have moved them, but now that it is my time to move from the old house to the new, I only can count on myself and have lifting restrictions due to the Ostomy.
    I actually was looking at what I thought was a wonderful used couch and chair on Craigslist the other day, but am not in the shape to move them myself and the one friend whose truck and trailer I could actually, maybe use, is getting ready for full blown heart surgery.
    Thought about a pallet couch (google it), as I could handle that.

    My mom has offered me this ugly as heck Lazyboy couch that belonged to a childhood friends grandmother. (she is in town, getting divorced and we are going to get together for a visit at some point, I expect she will cry if she see's me on the couch) I need a cover for it, if I use it instead and my mom thinks she can get a couple of people from her church to bring it over to me. (cost of gas)
    I would still have to get rid of the cat couch. Probably cut off the fabric, then use a reciprocating saw to cut it apart, so I could do it. That is probably a poor person mindset, but I have never had a bunch of people to rely on. Always taught you deserve nothing and be grateful for any help you do get.

  8. #18
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    TooMuchStuff, you are touching on something I was thinking about today.I am very very lucky to have a truck and a husband who can move anything. I prefer vintage furniture and the things I buy are usually cheaper than buying new furniture. But we have an easy means to haul it, so that allows us to pick up cool stuff at low prices.

    Not everyone can do that.
    I am not a serious person.

  9. #19
    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    The Washington post had an article a week or two ago about a survey they did on this exact topic. The extremely TLDR version of the article was ‘middle class is when you have security. Job stability, health insurance, etc, are as important as the amount of income one has in determining whether one is middle class. ‘

  10. #20
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    When kids came along and we ended up as a one-income family of five, I thought of ourselves as Upper Lower Class - financially. Now that the kids are independent, dh and I are both working with half way decent salaries, and almost no debt, i think we may have moved up to at least Lower Middle Class - if not closing in on Middle Middle class - again, financially.

    As far as material things - if you all haven't figured it out by now, I am not a decorator. I have things that are functional, most have been free, and they get used until they can't be used any more. One of the kids, in describing the household, said it was "eclectic", which was a nicer way of saying "early American yard sale". LOL.
    To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer." Mahatma Gandhi
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