Hard Work : The Value Of Hard-Class And Social Class

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Essay 1, Question 1-B The money one earns is but one piece of the complicated way Americans understand social class. Separating class along income lines does not account for differences in the cost of living from region to region; a solid middle-class income in one area may only afford a working-class lifestyle in another. How an individual interprets hard-work, and what they draw from it, is a better indicator of class than arbitrary scales that rely on income. Both working and middle-class Americans rely on hard work, at least in part, to define their class position. The working-class derive honor and moral superiority from their hard-work, while the middle-class gain the ability to realize their potential and justify their success. Declining since the 1970s, working-class wages, adjusted for inflation, are as much as 25% less than several decades ago (Silva, pg. 14). Facing reduced earning power, the working-class view hard-work as a source of honor, not financial reward. Jennifer Silva finds workers living on the margins of society share a belief in the value of hard work despite the lack of financial gain (Silva, pg. 84-5). Michelle Lamont notes a similar response from members of the working-class she interviews, with them identifying hard-work as trait of moral people (Lamont, pg. 21). Workers define a good person as one who works hard to provide for and protect their family, financially and physically (Lamont, 24 & 29). The working-class view themselves as

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