In the land of the “American Dream,” it is the common belief that there is a direct relationship between hard work and success. In this ideal prototype, those who put in long hours are bound for success and movement up the social ladder. Theoretically, one could be born into the “bottom of the food chain,” and with some hard work, rise into the realm of the social elite. As a testament to this global view of the United States, immigrants from all over the world have made the journey to the “land of opportunity” in hopes of better education, jobs, government, communities and lives for themselves and the generations following them. All of this is based on a system of social stratification – a guide to how successful one has been at
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Relying on these four criteria, a basic understanding of a person’s predicted class can be built. While this model works fine for providing an elementary level of understanding, it must be acknowledged that a person could rate well on this scale and still be in a different class than those scoring similarly – there are many more benchmarks of class than those mentioned in Scott and Leonhardt’s system. While this system could be considered an oversimplification of the many parts that shape class in America, it is a fine starting point for examining the most commonly observed markers of social class.
In Scott and Leonhardt’s model, one of the main components to class is education. When evaluating the education of a person, their scale ranges from persons with no schooling, then moves on to those who have graduated from high school, with the highest level of education belonging to persons who have received doctorate degrees. Focusing on education, a doctorate degree gives the greatest probability to be in a higher class, while those with no completed education must rely completely on other means of advancement. In an interactive “class calculator” presented by The New York Times alongside “Shadowy Lines That Still Divide,” Archie Tse and Ben Werschkul assign values to the many different options under each of the four main factors, allowing users to plug in their own occupations, educations, income and wealth. After these values have been combined, viewers can see which