On Being an Other in the Workplace: Class Divides in American Society

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On being an 'other' in the workplace: Class divides in American society For about a year, I worked at a well-known 'high end' teen clothing store at a local mall. I took the job because I needed the money and I assumed that most of my fellow employees would be in a similar situation. However, it soon became clear that most of my colleagues were working at the store because it was a 'socially prestigious' thing to do and because they could get a discount on the expensive clothing, not because they needed the spending money. It was not that the retailer paid any more than similar types of jobs, but because the clothing and the image of the store was trendy, it tended to attract a certain 'class' of teen to work there. When I was very young, I was never particularly conscious of any differences in class between myself and my friends, but over the course of my employment I truly began to comprehend why it is said that America is far from a classless society, only the divisions between social classes are often rendered invisible by the rhetoric of American meritocracy. Many of my coworkers went to private rather than public schools: all of the schools were relatively homogeneous ethnically and religiously. Many times they would disparage people walking by the store if they were not dressed in a 'preppy' fashion. "I don't understand why people"¦" one of them would begin. And I could easily 'fill in the blank' after working with them for about a month: they couldn't
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