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Is US Middle Class similar to UK Middle Class ?

Is US Middle Class similar to UK Middle Class ?

Old Feb 15th 2012, 6:47 pm
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Default Is US Middle Class similar to UK Middle Class ?

I keep hearing constant references to how the American middle class is under attack from a combination of negative economic conditions and fiscal tax policy etc. Plus it always seems that over half of the US is inhabited by 'middle class' folk, with almost zero media reference to 'working' class.

My question is, what defines being 'middle class' in the States ? To my ignoramus view from north of the border, it seems almost as if anyone who has a white collar / office job is labelled middle class. Back in the UK, I always had a visual pyramid view of the social class set up, with narrower/fewer ppl as you go up from working > middle > upper etc. There are also social and cultural attributes which define 'class'.

I recognize that class labels are at best fluid and constantly changing, but I think I'm missing something with respect to the US scene. Is the bar set much lower here than 'old Europe' ?
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Old Feb 15th 2012, 6:48 pm
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Default Re: Is US Middle Class similar to UK Middle Class ?

Class is money here. Nothing else.
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Old Feb 15th 2012, 6:58 pm
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Default Re: Is US Middle Class similar to UK Middle Class ?

I just looked it up on wiki... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_middle_class
It's pretty ambiguous.

I agree with FatBrit though, class here is money. I suspect the definition of middle class may vary state by state. I.e it may be someone that earns $250k+ in NYC or someone that earns $50k+ in Alabama
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Old Feb 15th 2012, 7:42 pm
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Default Re: Is US Middle Class similar to UK Middle Class ?

If you can define what is middle class in Canada, that will be similar to what is middle class in the US.
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Old Feb 15th 2012, 7:46 pm
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Default Re: Is US Middle Class similar to UK Middle Class ?

I am not sure how the upper limit is defined, but the lower limit seems to be anyone with a half decent job and income that does not claim benefits. Much broader than the UK definition.
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Old Feb 15th 2012, 7:50 pm
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Default Re: Is US Middle Class similar to UK Middle Class ?

I thought the US often delineated by blue-collar/white-collar.

Anyway, I bet which ever scale you use to describe the groups everyone would deny they were in that group.

Oh no I'm upper middle lower class not lower middle upper class.
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Old Feb 15th 2012, 7:54 pm
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Default Re: Is US Middle Class similar to UK Middle Class ?

Originally Posted by fatbrit View Post
Class is money here. Nothing else.
Originally Posted by Bink View Post
I just looked it up on wiki... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_middle_class
It's pretty ambiguous.

I agree with FatBrit though, class here is money. I suspect the definition of middle class may vary state by state. I.e it may be someone that earns $250k+ in NYC or someone that earns $50k+ in Alabama
I don't completely disagree, class is money here to a larger extent than in the UK, but there is more to it. That is, the pedigree (old, respectable family etc) and educational level matter here too, as in Europe. So here in the US, you could be impoverished and unemployed, but if your father was a doctor or a minister of religion and you have a university degree, you are middle class (for example.)

Back in the UK - maybe I'm old fashioned on this one - there is a Marxist aspect to class definitions, and a feudal aspect too. That is, you are working class if you do not own the means of production... even if you are "aristocracy of labour" and actually have a high income. Middle Class used to be equated with bourgeouis or rentier; i.e. owned the means of production or lived on investment income or rents. Etc.

By contrast, here in the US, the term "working class" seems to have gone out of fashion, no-one is working class, if you have a secure job with benefits you are "middle class."
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Old Feb 15th 2012, 7:58 pm
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Default Re: Is US Middle Class similar to UK Middle Class ?

Originally Posted by robin1234 View Post
I don't completely disagree, class is money here to a larger extent than in the UK, but there is more to it. That is, the pedigree (old, respectable family etc) and educational level matter here too, as in Europe. So here in the US, you could be impoverished and unemployed, but if your father was a doctor or a minister of religion and you have a university degree, you are middle class (for example.)

Back in the UK - maybe I'm old fashioned on this one - there is a Marxist aspect to class definitions, and a feudal aspect too. That is, you are working class if you do not own the means of production... even if you are "aristocracy of labour" and actually have a high income. Middle Class used to be equated with bourgeouis or rentier; i.e. owned the means of production or lived on investment income or rents. Etc.

By contrast, here in the US, the term "working class" seems to have gone out of fashion, no-one is working class, if you have a secure job with benefits you are "middle class."
The Marxist interpretation has its affect on the upper levels too. In Britain some may describe a large business CEO as middle class, In the US, this would never happen (unless you are Romney)

Last edited by kimilseung; Feb 15th 2012 at 8:00 pm.
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Old Feb 15th 2012, 8:03 pm
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Default Re: Is US Middle Class similar to UK Middle Class ?

I wondered the same. Came to the conclusion that the vast majority of the population is middle class.

I have never heard upper class being used, and non middle class seems to be wino's or driggies etc.
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Old Feb 15th 2012, 8:06 pm
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Default Re: Is US Middle Class similar to UK Middle Class ?

Originally Posted by robin1234 View Post
I don't completely disagree, class is money here to a larger extent than in the UK, but there is more to it. That is, the pedigree (old, respectable family etc) and educational level matter here too, as in Europe. So here in the US, you could be impoverished and unemployed, but if your father was a doctor or a minister of religion and you have a university degree, you are middle class (for example.)
There is also the "military class".
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Old Feb 15th 2012, 8:13 pm
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Default Re: Is US Middle Class similar to UK Middle Class ?

Originally Posted by kimilseung View Post
The Marxist interpretation has its affect on the upper levels too. In Britain some may describe a large business CEO as middle class, In the US, this would never happen (unless you are Romney)
Yes, and to extend this thought, I think of even the wealthiest CEOs etc as middle-class (they are "in trade") and the term "upper class" in traditional English usage is confined to the gentry and aristocracy (they are landowners, and derive their income from land) and the Church of England clergy.
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Old Feb 15th 2012, 8:18 pm
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Default Re: Is US Middle Class similar to UK Middle Class ?

Originally Posted by sir_eccles View Post
Anyway, I bet which ever scale you use to describe the groups everyone would deny they were in that group.
That would be the class half-empty group.
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Old Feb 15th 2012, 8:18 pm
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Default Re: Is US Middle Class similar to UK Middle Class ?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Replace "beauty" with "middle class". You'll never get a straight answer that even a majority will agree on. I know people on half my wage that live a more comfortable life than I, but that's just my perception.
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Old Feb 15th 2012, 8:31 pm
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Default Re: Is US Middle Class similar to UK Middle Class ?

Originally Posted by Michael View Post
If you can define what is middle class in Canada, that will be similar to what is middle class in the US.
The term 'class' is almost redundant here in everyday speech. We have differentiation in terms of 'New Canadian' (recent immigrants), Anglophone vs Francophone, East versus West, provinces that are dependent on federal hand-outs and those that are self-sufficient etc.
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Old Feb 15th 2012, 10:19 pm
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Default Re: Is US Middle Class similar to UK Middle Class ?

This is something I have wondered about, too, but was too ashamed to ask
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