America the beautiful,
Who are you beautiful for?
America, the land of opportunity, but is it really? America is made up of people of many different cultural and social backgrounds. The constitution of the people reads that as Americans, these people are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These rights were designed in part to attain a sense of equality within the individual so that a sense of unity would exist. Because of the structures within society that influence a persons character such as the educational, corporate and governmental structures there are many differences in the social, economic, and political sense amongst the individuals. There is a select group who are more educated that come from the more prestigious and wealthy backgrounds as opposed to those who come from the working middle class and poor levels. The opportunities are much different due to the effects of these institutions and the socioeconomic levels that children are born into. If the economic resources are abundant, than success is easier to attain. By looking at the exclusive clubs that the wealthy belong to and the differences in the educational institutions that children attend, it is evident that the individual born into a wealthy family is more apt to achieve success than one who is brought up in a working class family.
One of the main keys to success is to establish networks and organizations in support of the corporate community. These networks form a social cohesion which is based on two types of relationships found in a membership network: common membership in specific social institutions and friendships based on social interactions within those institutions. Social cohesion creates a group identity where members of the social groups are seen to be exclusive and of high status. The social bonding can be seen as one reason why the social rich are cohesive enough to dominate the rest of society despite their numbers. (Domhoff, G. William, Who Rules America? p.72) Used as indicators of upper class standing, the exclusive clubs are used as a reinforcement to separate the wealthy from the working-class. The Bohemian Club is one of the most widely known clubs that caters to the upper class, corporate leaders, celebrities, and government officials. This retreat intertwines the upper class with the corporate community to create an atmosphere for social bonding and relaxation. Another important function of these clubs is to perpetuate the upper class from generation to generation.
The working class does not partake in the same kind of networking as the upper class. In comparison to the upper class, there is not a strong affiliation between the corporate community and the working class. They do not have the funding or support of the corporations for retreats or clubs denying them of opportunities for equal advancement in the corporate community. Without cohesion, future generations are left to create their identities in their job place. In the upper class the younger generations are introduced to the corporate community through the clubs giving them a foot in the door. Although not all upper class citizens belong to clubs such as the Bohemian club, the majority are affiliated with these clubs as evident through the status of corporate leaders. Social clubs are just one example of institutions that create opportunities for the upper class while creating a larger gap between the rich and poor.
Educational institutions also create unequal opportunities for different classes. Most of the upper class children are sent to private schools and are later sent to boarding schools which become surrogate families that play a major role in creating an upper-class subculture on almost a national scale in America (p.82). The educational system of the upper class emphasizes the building of character. Boarding schools are effective social agents which sociologist Erving Goffman calls total institutions, isolating their members from the outside world and providing them with a set of routines and traditions that encompass most of their waking hours (p.83). The students graduate feeling separate and superior over those outside of the upper class community. One alumnus stated, At school, we were made to feel somewhat better than other people because of our class. There is more funding through parental and alumni support, therefore private schools are able to offer a wider variety of classes with qualified teachers.
Most public schools are kept at low maintenance since there is not enough funding. Unlike the private schools, there are few schools with family support in the financial and academic areas. The children have fewer resources such as books and computers, making it more difficult for both the teachers and the students. Because of this the students receive a poor education which reflects in their futures. In Kozols article, Savage Inequalities: Children in Americas Schools, he investigated public schools in New York and found that the majority of the schools were overcrowded and the buildings were practically ruins. One of the teachers stated, We are handicapped by scarcity. In order for the children to be motivated about learning, it is necessary to provide them with the right tools in a comfortable learning environment. The schools in the poor neighborhoods are unable to provide for their students in any of these ways. One student described how she had to take a shower after school to remove the plaster from her hair. Kozol asked a principal what he considered helped in making a good school. His reply was, The building and teachers are part of it, of course. But it isnt just the building and the teachers. Our kids come from good families and the neighborhoods are good (p.98). The public schools located in more affluent communities are reported to be funded at a rate fourteen times greater than the low-income districts, according to the Post. The reason for the New York Board of Education not putting additional funding into the low-income districts is that they dont believe the teachers will stay there. Students who attend the public schools in the more affluent communities receive better schooling preparing them for the job market. The students coming from low-income families do not receive the same level of opportunities due to a lack of funding and resources in their educational institutions.
Through the social institutions of the upper class as well as the educational systems of both the upper and lower classes, it is evident that there exists an inequality in the class structure. More opportunities exist for the upper class from the early years of their childhood leading up to the membership of exclusive clubs and through attendance of private schools. The most important factor of success is a good education and most low-income families are denied this because of zoning reasons. Besides having a good education, it is at ones advantage to be a part of a network or social club which will support them and guide them through their career. These social clubs exist primarily among the more affluent families. In order to even out the scales of opportunity, the educational systems have to be re-evaluated so that students receive adequate resources in a safe environment. Parents must also help in showing their support in the educational and motivational sense. Being born into a certain social class does determine ones future if they do not realize that there are more opportunities out there besides that ones that are most apparent.