Sunday, April 28, 2013

Zweig and Greider

{quotes} "Deep change does not begin in the political process or with single issues; it begins among ordinary people deciding to change their circumstances" (Greider, 253). The articles at hand deal with this issue of class and how exactly America understands the division of it. Greider's article talks about moral economy and our problem with the idea of class in America and how to fix it. He talks about moral economy being and economy that "serves people and society first". He goes on to talk about how in this country capitalism causes "destruction of family and community, democracy, nature, and equality". Capitalism is a problem in this country. It causes what he calls 'abundance'. Meaning that goods and wealth exist in our society but it tends to get away from most people which leaves them with anxiety in order to keep up with life. He goes on to talk about how we need to fix this society. It cannot happen through the government because they always seem to not get it right. He says it needs to be fixed by society itself. The government can encourage positive change but society is the ones that need to do it. Society need to dream a little and put those dreams to work. For examples he says, start new companies, reform existing ones, and start new financial institutions. Society needs to be the one to change this. I mostly agree with where he is going with this but it is also difficult in a way. While I agree that society does need to take the reins on this, I also think government help is necessary. He is asking people to start new companies or reform old ones but it is difficult when an abundance of America is working class. They work to make ends meet how is he suggesting they are able to start new companies. It just does not seem feasible. Government help would be essential.
          Zweig's article goes over the six points about class. He talks about what needs to be changed about the idea people have of class and the way it is represented. First issue he talks about is how we need to change people's understanding of class. He states that many people see class in terms of "rich and poor" and they need to see it in terms of "worker and capitalist". Class needs to be broken down by power not by "wealth, income, or life style" (Zweig, 2). This tends to separate class from race and gender and that is something that it should not do. His second point was about two problems in American politics. That it makes us focus to much on race and we loss sight of class and that the "political target gets confused". When race gets involved with class we tend to lose sight of the divide. Many people hear poor and think Black when in reality most poor people in America are white. When it comes to politics we tend to blame the rich as the "the source of America's political misdirection". When in reality its really the capitalist class and their aim for a profit, not caring who gets in their way even if its the rest of America. Some of the other points he makes focus around pinpointing what class exactly is and having the country acknowledge it. Society needs to know what it is and how it not only affects us locally but globally too. Zweig talks about how we have to be aware of global economy and how class effects us on a global scale. It can cause job loss, cheap labor, and capital flight. Overall class is discussed in both of these articles. Telling us how much society is affected by it whether we acknowledge it or not and how we need to be part of the change. We need to bring class into the lights and help fix the whole class structure if we essentially want to fix America.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Jenson Chapters and Hooks article

{quotes} These texts clearly have a great deal to do with the class divide between working class and other classes, specifically dealing with higher education. The Bell Hooks article "Where We Stand: Class Matters" talked about a young woman's struggle with higher education in terms of race and class. Raised in a working class home she did not quite fit in when she got to college because it was clash of classes. She did not conform to the class standards of these wealthy girls she went to school with and they could not seem to figure out why. It also showed how the people around her viewed her class. She stated, "almost everyone around me believed working class folks had no values" (35). They did not understand where she was coming from and did not want to try and understand it therefore making her feel very uncomfortable. She later talked about her class in terms of how it affected her education. She said, "Slowly I began to understand fully that there was no place in academe for folks from working class backgrounds who did not wish to leave the past behind" (36). It is a struggle for working class people because they are stuck in a really difficult stop .

              They are from working class families who have a set of values that are quite different from other classes. Working class values community more than individualism. This becomes a problem when you get mixed in with other classes in higher education. They do not understand where you are coming from and they are not going to conform to you so either you assimilate into the middle or upper class values or you don't. Which leaves you with two options either leaving everything you know and conforming to a new set of values or being an outcast. These people who move into a new class have a sense of sadness because it forces them to go against what they grew up with and also it distances themselves from their friends and families who just can't grasp this new culture. They have a problem when crossing culture happens.

              Jensen states in chapter 6, "the less cultural capital they have form previous schooling, the more they face a tangle of extracurricular psychological, sociological, and cultural confusion". These people are not usually looking for a change in culture just a change in work. So the question lies in how do we deal with this? These college dreams threaten the working class identity. These people usually have to cope with it in one of three ways; distancing, resisting, or building bridges. When we get to the middle class we see a, "cultural emphasis on becoming through individual achievement". This means using self actualization whereas in working class self actualization may be "incomprehensible". The struggle between individualism (middle class) and community (working class) is evident. America seems to be heading more towards the idea of individualism and less with community making issues for the working class. Although this also creates the problem that we are losing social capital because of it. The class issue here is problematic when it comes to higher education. Working class students are finding it difficult to move ahead in the world without losing their sense of identity.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Articles on Women

{quotes}    These few articles on women were quite interesting. Some reconfirmed my thoughts on certain situations and others shocked me. I thought there was an interesting difference between not only gender issues but racial issues too. The article by Ransby about women and Hurricane Katrina was appalling. Looking back at the situation of Katrina we know that things could have been handled better. What I never knew was the the race issues that went on in the aftermath. Ransby talks about how most who were left behind and who were treated poorly were poor and Black. The ones who were the least helped and had the fewest resources were poor Black women (Ransby, 616). They are basically saying that these Black poor women who are typically single mothers are being looked at as unworthy of aid and that we should be unsympathetic which is astonishing. Everyone in the wake of this storm should be helped not just people with money or of a certain race. It went on to talk about how some say that they were trying to push poor black women and their children out of the city after this. They were trying to make a new city without the black poor (Ransby, 620). Instead of helping these people recover, find new shelter, make money, etc they thought maybe they could push them out and recreate the city with their own guild lines of who should live there in order to make it a better place. This was an article that targeted women, specifically bringing up the racial difference in terms of a national disaster and just how they are treated. It certainly does not help their case that they are women.
        The other articles we read also dealt with women in regards to wage, work schedules, and prostitution. The article "Minimum Wage" discussed how many women struggle to make ends meet. Most of these women are single mothers who have only their paycheck to rely on. Women being the large majority of minimum wage workers (2/3) (NWIC, 1). It talks about how we need to increase minimum wage to help these women make ends meet and be able to close the gap between men and women in terms of wages. This also ties in with the article "Working Mothers in a Double Bind". Which discusses flexible schedules and wages. Working mothers need the flexible schedules because they are the ones who need to take care of the kids. Even though they are the ones who needs the flexibility the most they are the least likely to receive it. Gender plays a role here again as does race. Men are more likely to have flexible hours. It also states that Blacks and women are less likely to have flexible jobs and equal opportunity (McCrate, 17). Race and Gender seem to come together here. Black people and women are less likely to have the opportunities in work that white men do.Taking it one step further, Black women seem to have even less of an opportunity for flexible work schedules.
        Zeroing in on our own state in "An Uneven Path", we see that we have a huge problem with helping women economically. Things that were set up to help low income women, especially single mother women has decreased drastically over the years. With budget cuts to these sort of programs it has sent women far below the poverty line. These women rely on these sort of things because their jobs pay minimum wage which we have discovered is not enough to keep a one paycheck family afloat. The cost of living is far to high for the amount of money they get paid. We need to help support these working mothers and help with generating the increase of minimum wage. This will not only help them but it will essentially help the economy because the more they make the they spent and put back into the economy and we know Rhode Island needs the help! All these articles are intertwined dealing with not only women but bringing in ideas of gender and race and how it affects things economically. Women need help and need to be allowed to close the gap on wages, and job flexibility.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mike Rose- The Mind at Work

{quotes} This text is basically about him discussing the difference of classes in terms of jobs. He talks about how just because you come from the working class and have more labor related jobs does not mean that you do not have the same intelligence as upper class jobs. He talks about how these working class jobs use a lot of cognition and the divide is not as big as we thought between the classes in terms of jobs. He says that the working class jobs use a lot of intelligence and critical thinking even though we tend not to think so. He begins talking about a guy named Frank who works for the Railroad. Frank is part of the working class and you can tell he values his job and values working hard because that is how he feels can contribute to the world he says, "Work hard, nobody likes a half assed man". He talks about how the working class feel like this is how they are valuable. He stated, "jobs provided a means of doing something in the world", like they had something to offer.
              He then goes on to talk about his mother who was a waitress for most of her life. We tend to think of waitressing as a low class job that does not take much skill but this is wrong. He talks about how it involves "intelligence embedded in social interaction, routines of service, and emotional dynamics". This type of work takes much more than we would assume. They are constantly multitasking and looking at the bigger picture. He talks about how the job filled her economic need but it also filled a cognitive, social, and existence need. Basically he is saying that when we think about a low class job like waitressing we think that it does not involve any sort of skill or intelligence but it involves both. This work, "calls for strength and stamina, memory capacity and strategy, heightened attention, ability to take stock, prioritize tasks, and make decisions on the fly". In terms of cognition it requires 'mindfulness' which means seeing the bigger picture which would be the entire restaurant and therefore being able to multitask. She must be keep her mind knowledgeable and alert. She must also tailor herself to the needs of the customers whether it be emotional or 'gender stereotypical scripts'. It is a tactic to increase her economic gain. This customer interaction interweaves cognitive processes and emotional dynamics. He states, "memory draws on emotional material to aid in storage and recall". She lastly stated that the fact that the job was fast paced meant that her mind could never stay idle which is good because you always want to keep the mind moving.
                Lastly he looked at the occupation of hair styling. He talks again about gender and how it is primarily a woman's profession. Once again it is not  a highly regarded profession in terms of cognition but he proves that wrong again. He talks about how hair styling relies heavily on analysis and technique. They must consider so much when doing hair. For example, length, style, texture, face, bone structure, eye color, skin color, etc. They acquire this skill over many years of training, observation,  and classes. He talks about how there is a technical and mechanical dimension in what they do. They must also have good communication with clients. He states this is important in "cognition, cultural, and linguistics aspects". He also states, "The competent stylist negotiates an understanding of the literal and the symbolic content of a clients request". Overall he states cognition has a lot to do with this profession. They must think through things, decide what will work on certain hair and what won't. Aesthetics and communication are big in this profession, it is much more than just a simple job it requires much more than society thinks.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Waging A Living

This film was really upsetting. I think as Americans we have this notion that if we work hard we will succeed and be able to live the "American Dream". Meaning that we will be successful and financially stable. Able to afford to live comfortably and have some of the nicer things in life. This is quite untrue as we can see throughout this film. Like for an example, the first lady we see that says that she has been at her job for 13 years and can barely afford to make ends meet. The only way that happens is if she puts in overtime, which clearly she relies on heavily. It also showed how her daughter has cancer and can't afford to get the treatment that gives her a better shot at living. It was truly heartbreaking to watch. The fact that these people can't even afford the cheapest housing they can find because of their low wage jobs is horrible. These are people who should be living the "American Dream" but how is that possible when technically they are following the guidelines and getting nowhere. They work hard everyday but can't get far in life because their low wage jobs barely make ends meet never mind ever being financially stable. Which adds so much stress to the lives of these people and does not allow for an easy life.
           I think I related this film a lot to Kozol's article "Amazing Grace". In the article he talks to people in some of the poorest cities and how they also are low wage earners yet are not bad people like is stereotyped. I feel like when we think of people who struggle we generally assume it is because of some mistake they made in their life or because we think they are low lives and do not try. Well we see this is very wrong in both instances. We have Kozol's article following people who do what they can to make ends meet. These people are hard workers and work at low wage jobs. They are not bad people. He even talks about the people who have to go to the unaccredited hospitals and wait for days just to get treated. It is like the first ladies daughter in the film. If she was not in that situation and had the financially stability she might not be looking at death within a year. Other people who have her disease and get treated have a much better shot at living and how is that far just because she was not lucky enough to be put in the same situation as them.
       It is just really sad to know that people are living like this in this country. People who are trying their very hardest and working their hardest and virtually getting nowhere because of these low wage jobs. The cost of living is higher than the money they earn at these jobs. They can never get ahead, never create a better life, and follow the "American Dream" because the 'American Dream" essentially does not exist. These people who are trying to work harder to chase this dream will not get to far and it is not because they are not doing it right because they are but if this country is only offering them these low wage jobs and no benefits and no way to get ahead then they will be in this position until the day they die. These stereotypes of these low wage workers are constant and yet people do not get an accurate idea of them whatsoever.
         I was reading some articles online about low wage jobs in America and how they are fairing in the declining economy and I found this one interesting. It talks about low wage jobs of today and basically discussed the 'grim outlook' for them. These jobs are not leading anywhere. Not allowing for advancement within the company and not seeing an increase in wages anytime soon.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Black Wealth, White Wealth

{quotes} I thought that this article gave some interesting facts. I think the fact that it talked about the difference between economics of white and blacks without linking it to racism but instead to class was interesting. We started out talking about the 10 highest paid people and  stating that at least half of that list was made up of African Americans. With people like Oprah and Michael Jackson. But then to go on and talk about how barely any African Americans made up the Forbes list was shocking. I couldn't understand what the difference was. The article then talked about the difference between income and wealth. How people like Oprah and Michael Jackson were rich because of their income. Wealth was a whole other story. Wealth dealing more with, "access to life chances" (p2). Whereas income is money over time wealth is your stock of assets owned at a particular time (p3). Having this wealth can create opportunities that many other do not have and it is something that generally is passed down from generation to generation.
               This wealth creates a bit of inequality between the races. The article states that, "wealth reveals a particular network of social relations and a set of social circumstances that convey a unique constellation of meanings pertinent to race in America"  (p3). The article basically talks about how the economic issues in American between races does not only stem from racism but also from class. There are many examples of the setbacks of African Americans and why they don't share the abundance of wealth that Whites have. One of the examples given is the fact that economic transformation never happened. The Homestead Act never made the freed slaves into a land owning class. Because of the racial discrimination they were never allowed to enter the housing the market the same way as other races. Also how the FHA were more apt to give loans to white people and even if you could afford home ownership you were assigned to central city communities. Which ended up cutting them off from investments in their homes leaving them to decrease in value and therefore not deemed desirable by the FHA. Another example of economic hardship was the inability to get a mortgage. "When it comes to mortgages blacks are rejected far more than whites". I was astounded when I read that the poorest whites were more likely to get approved than the African Americans with the highest incomes.
                    So essentially there was no way for Blacks to build on their wealth. They were in a losing situation. There was nothing to pass on to their children and therefore they could help build future wealth either. Eventually even the gap between black and white incomes started to grow wider. It is something that started from the very beginning and is why things are the way they are today. I found it interesting when the authors wrote about it being almost like a domino affect. Starting out with slavery. Whites essentially got a head start on wealth because they were always land owners. Even the poorest white men could gain land and Black could not. Even if they did have some sort of savings they had to use it to buy their freedom so white people were always economically one step ahead. And this continued through the years with every setback Whites moved forward because they had the opportunity to whereas there always seemed to be a barrier for African Americans. Whether it be Housing, being approved for loans or mortgages, getting jobs, joining the military, the unfairness of social security, or even just getting paid equally to the white man. I find that class does play a role in this in a sense. Class typically affects where you are in the world and what kind of job you get, what kind of place you live in, etc. But I cannot agree that racism has nothing to do with it. We cannot make this entirely a class issue. They even give the example of self employment. This is supposed to go hand in hand with the 'American Dream'. Self Employment is the American way. However, African Americans find the hardest time with this out of all the races (p45). They talk about how, "discrimination and violence have punctuated black entrepreneurial efforts of all kinds" (p45). So what they are saying is that Blacks have the hardest time with this and yet it is not connected to class because they talk about how the other races have an easier time with self employment, how they do not have that extreme stereotype branded on them and therefore it is easier to find employment. Overall, I found the article interesting and learned a few things I did not know.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Barbara Jensen: "The Invisible Ism" and "Belonging vs. Becoming"

[quotes]  I found the Jensen chapters quite different. I think that she addressed some things in a different way and gave different things to look at. She begins by basically talking about the classes and classism. She agrees that it is hard for us to admit that we have different classes in this country. She goes onto split them into four categories: rich, middle class, working class, and the poor. I think it was interesting when she stated that "economic power, not culture is the spine of class". Now I know she later goes on to talk about how culture does still play a big role but it was interesting to hear that she talked about the main division of the classes boils down to economics.
             She goes on to talk about culture in this chapter and talks about the differences of working class and middle class. Saying the working class culture depends on the region, ethnicity, gender, race, and other factors. I found her story really telling too about the religious "coming of age" party for the two girls. One being from a working class family and the other a middle class family and the differences she encountered. I think it was good to see her paint the picture of the differences for us but without forcing the stereotypes but saying that though each was different they were both good in different ways. The working class family being more about emotional connections and laughter whereas the middle class was less about that but the girl was more educated and connected to why this was all happening. Although I found it interesting when she stated that "each celebration was right to the people who attended it and would feel uncomfortable at the other". I feel like this is why we have these defined lines of class though. If classes were to mix more and traditions and ways of live were to blend we would not need to spread around these ideas of the classes.
           Stating that I also thought her statement on this subject was quite correct. She states, "Classism is destructive, it divides American working class and middle class people from realizing they have much more in common with each other than they do with the upper class". This is entirely correct and it is something that should be addressed more. Working class and middle class should be enjoying more of the common ground that they have with each other because it is much more than they share with the upper class.
             I also found the second chapter interesting. I liked the idea of this sense of "belonging vs. becoming" and Jensen talking about how this is part of the difference between Working Class and Middle Class. Middle Class is centered around "becoming". They believe in working hard, ambition, and essentially survival of the fittest they are always looking to become something and they never just live in the "now". The middle class want this sense of individuality whereas the working class are much happier with a community. They value "belonging" much more than "becoming". They are all about living in the "now" and creating a sense of "us" which really helps because their community tends to span a bigger variety of people in terms of race, gender, ethnicity. I think that Jensen talks a lot about the differences between the two classes but that they do have some common ground that should be used to abolish these class stereotypes.