Posted by: CJ | May 3, 2010


Middle-class culture in the US evolved over a long time. First farmers and immigrants moved to factories and/or urban areas. Then they got fed up with bad conditions and fought the good fight to get various rights and livable conditions. Somewhere in there WWI, The Great Depression, and WWII happened. And then they were getting educations after WWII which made it easier for the, decades later, to cope with slow changes in culture and new technology.

And compared to that slow evolution, we often expect kids from lower-income households and areas, from cultures very different from traditional middle-class culture, to make that leap in one generation. So that the kids of students currently from low-income families are instead raised in middle-class families, or at least families with middle-class values. While that’s clearly a bit much to hope for, it was easier when there were abundant blue-collar jobs. Blue-collar jobs could be used to ease oneself into middle-class life, and then one’s kids would be better positioned for the combination of education and work-ethos to climb higher. But those jobs don’t exist in the US much anymore, either because they’re elsewhere or because they simply don’t exist anywhere anymore.

It seems like the easiest transition now is the military. Other than the modern imperialism and getting shot at, it’s similar to blue collar jobs in a lot of ways. Steady paycheck, firm structure, many chances for promotion, a life-long career if you want it and many ways to transition out if you decide you’re ready for it.

Overall, I’m not sure how I feel about this. It’s just something I’ve thought about recently.


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