Week 12: Chapter 7, People and Lifestyles in the Metropolis
Max Weber believed that an individual’s class position is important because it helps determine the life chances that can be expected in the future, in other words, the possible opportunities or constraints for future achievement open to any individual. Weber maintained that material wealth was the most important of all social variables.
The United States is a stratified society, meaning that individuals and households are located within a social hierarchy that determines their access to resources. Stratification is often pictures as a pyramid of social standing. SES, or socioeconomic status, is a particular combination of wealth, occupation, education, gender, and race, among other factors. Many studies divide the population into five groups: the lower class, the working class, the lower middle class, the upper middle class, and the ruling class. Only the ruling class controls enough wealth to be considered independent from economic needs. Many people in the lower class do not have access to regular sources of income because of lack of jobs in the inner city, while many working class households have discovered it necessary for both husband and wife to work to support their families, and middle class families find it increasingly difficult to maintain their standard of living due to the stagnant wages and a declining dollar in the world economy. A significant component of socioeconomic status is determined by one’s address and the symbolic reputation of a particular neighborhood within metropolitan neighborhoods. Multiple home ownership is also a symbol of wealth and power that carries meaning and prestige in our society.
The authors cite work by sociologist E. Digby Baltzell, titled Philadelphia Gentlemen as well as work by Thorsten Veblen, titled Theory of the Leisure Class. Baltzell’s work indicates that the wealthy need their own segregated space, the areas they choose for their voluntary isolation vary over the years, because in an effort to remain invisible, the wealthy had to move as the metropolitan region expanded over time. Veblen’s work was one of the earliest studies of the affluent in suburbia and described how although wealth was behind their behavior, the most important characteristics of the lifestyle were symbolic and cultural.
Women are often in control of their environment. This means they could be assigned the task of decorating or maintaining the home. In urban areas, women are often cautioned to be careful, are subject to harassment, and to avoid going outside at night to avoid certain situations. Women are often isolated from family and friends in suburban environments and usually have a second vehicle to take care of the children, shopping, and employment. Urban regeneration consists of building or rebuilding downtown areas. This area usually consists of bars, theaters, and nightlife establishments. These establishments attract a large number of people. Girl hunt refers to college and young adult males making their way to the so-called meat market city nightclubs in search of pickups and one night stands.
Festival marketplace is an approach to developing once derelict waterfront sites emphasizing consumption and entertainment. These are harbor revival projects with signature aspects of their approach involving a large shopping mall or an aquarium.
There are three waves of immigration according to the authors of the text, The New Urban Sociology. The first wave happened around 1492, when western European settlers from the British Isles, Spain, Holland, and France arrived as a consequence of official state policy, convicts alternative to prison, or those looking for free land. Some were also in search of religious freedom. The second wave was around the 1800s and consisted of immigrants from central and Eastern Europe. This happened due to the industrialization happing in the U.S. and most people found residence in cities. This period of time housed a lot of racial and ethnic tensions as well as tensions between labor and the industries. The third wave happened in the 1970s. This was a result to changes in immigration laws that happened in the U.S. in the mid 1960s. Unlike previous immigration waves, this wave mainly consisted of immigrants from Latin America and Asia.