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Old 10-25-2014, 03:31 PM
Location: Seattle
20 posts, read 24,341 times
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Originally Posted by ohio_peasant View Post
Interesting list. My quibble is that it’s too skewed to consumer-items, defining “class” too much by one’s purchases, one’s abode, one’s shopping habits and so forth. It also leans more towards “middle” than “upper”. I’d offer the following amendments:

1. You spend only a small portion of your income, either investing the remainder, or plowing it into a business, or donating it to charity.
2. You speak multiple foreign languages – fluently – and attend business meetings or social functions where such fluency is expected.
3. Your house is filled with books in the aforementioned languages, which you actually read with some regularity.
4. Your conversation is peppered with literary references, and you smile with bemusement and minor indignation if your interlocutors miss those references.
5. You hold a graduate or professional degree, as did your father, and his father before him, all the way back into the 19th century.
6. Your main career objective is to pursue intellectually stimulating or emotionally fulfilling work, with the remunerative aspect secondary, because you already have an income stream from investments.
7. You scrupulously eschew yardwork or other domestic maintenance, as such agrarian or crafts-pursuits are too gauche for you.

This list is a mixture of different levels of the upper middle class. Number 7 cannot be so because the one maid or housekeeper in older more established UMC households(3rd or 4th generation+) only has two hands as well as the part time gardener. As time goes by, the garden tends to be larger and the "investment stream" larger. Since UMC aren't aristocrats it would be rather insincere if they imitate nobility by shooting and riding. So, quiet leisurely pursuits all tend to gravitate towards the garden. 2,3,4 all seem to be things that are the product of the effort laden, achievement oriented entry level UMC. 5 is spot on because a tradition of legacy along with school affiliation increases as time goes on as a member of the UMC. It's all about maintaining connections with others that your family has known for generations because the class above for instance will not allow admittance into the secret clubs at HYP. 6 needs to be reworded; it should be: you pursue an endeavor that you would do out of sheer enjoyment, perhaps even as an expression of love for the arts or academics rather than renumeration. A "Career" is what others below older UMC's pursue.
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Old 10-25-2014, 03:46 PM
Location: Seattle
20 posts, read 24,341 times
Reputation: 15
Bright line distinctions between the classes:

1. Between the lower class and middle class: plastic on the furniture.
2. Between the upper middle class and the rest of the middle class: "Pardon" and other euphemisms(gosh, shoot, fudge)
3. Between the upper middle class and the upper class: Discussions about money and work for pay.
4. Between the nobility and industrial upper class: nobility draws income from land based derivatives.
5. Between lower middle class and middle middle class: professional vs. semi-professional
6. Between the middle middle class and upper middle class: successful in his or her profession(i.e. plastic surgeon, partner in a big law firm, etc.), cashews + vodka or gin or scotch OR G&T with a daily extended 1.5-2 hour lunch
7 Between blue collar aristocrat and the rest of the lower class: big ticket item like a motorboat parked in the driveway and occupational power, autonomy(i.e. skilled---plumber, electrician, etc)
8. Between middle class and upper class: "What do you do for a living?" vs. "What is your family background?"
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Old 10-25-2014, 08:59 PM
Location: Seattle
20 posts, read 24,341 times
Reputation: 15
Originally Posted by St. Josef the Chewable View Post
Two great books on the subject. The "Bohemian Bourgeois" thing is interesting, because even today you'll still sometimes see upper middle class and wealthy folks portrayed as conservative pearl-clutchers. Yet in my experience in working among "the other half", I found that many of them invest a lot of energy in appearing progressive, tolerant, and cool (but in an "I don't care about being cool" fashion, naturally). And I think historically many radical activists and bohemians came from wealthier backgrounds.

I admit I've always been a bit naive, but growing up as a young working-class Deadhead, for example, I was shocked to discover how many of my fellow hippies attended elite prep schools! I didn't realize how much money it takes to look like you don't have any money!

It's called slumming.
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Old 10-25-2014, 09:06 PM
Location: Seattle
20 posts, read 24,341 times
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Originally Posted by Just_the_facts View Post
There are basically five different ways of defining class: income, wealth, occupation, education, and values/lifestyle. Some people focus on one of those criteria while other use a combination of some or all of the criteria.

I'm definitely not upper middle or even middle when using income, wealth, or occupation as criteria. With regard to education, I arguably qualify as upper middle class. With respect to values/lifestyle, I am too much of an independent thinker and nonconformist to fit into any specific class.

If you think marriages are based on love then you are in the middle class range. If you feel guilty about having a mistress then your are below UMC. If you like fattened duck liver, snails and chase your scotch, vodka, gin, etc with just saliva then you're likely UMC. Saltine crackers eaten plain from a small porcelain dish is upscale as well. Cheez Whiz knocks it down a bit to the lower middle class, upper lower class while using anchovies as a garnish is Middle Middle to UMC.
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Old 10-25-2014, 09:20 PM
Location: Seattle
20 posts, read 24,341 times
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Originally Posted by red4ce View Post
This seems more like a list for upper middle class white people. I'm in the upper middle class but only 11 out of the 25 apply to me.

For blacks: highest level is UMC because not enough time for Old Money to form. The oldest of the UMC would be ones who were free blacks before 19th century, especially small business families in Philadelphia. Ink Well is new UMC. Other than this, subtract one full level for a black's stated social class. Vast majority are lower class. If college completion is an indicator then at most 10% qualify for middle class membership. Graduate degrees are 5% so less than this can qualify for UMC.

For Latinos: The more Spanish(European) generally the higher the class. Old Money includes ranchers who received their land grants from the King of Spain. The difference is whether they received them as Hidalgos before the Spanish Mexican Empire or after this period. Some families have had estates since the 1500's in Texas and the SW USA.

For Asians: Chinese: the old elite are descendants of successful civil service exam candidates. Merchants near the bottom of social hierarchy. Most overseas Chinese are descended from lower class coolies and small merchants. Japanese: Samurai nobility were less than 10% of the population. Most Japanese immigrants are fishermen and some untouchables(Burakumin) such as tanners. Almost no descendants of Japanese immigrants are descended from Samurai. Indian: Brahmin Caste rarely immigrated. Since 1965, professional UMC families are typical immigrants. Koreans: After 1980 middle to UMC business owners and professionals. Filipinos: Chinese or Spanish mestizo middle class. The darker the person the lower the class(i.e. native). Overall, Asians have the highest household income. Within this group it is Indians, Chinese then Japanese and Koreans though Filipinos have the highest household income because of more family members. Other SE Asians: generally, Thais, Cambodians, Indonesians, Laotians are higher class the more Chinese ancestry they possess. Chinese dominate the economies of SE Asia.
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Old 10-25-2014, 09:29 PM
Location: Seattle
20 posts, read 24,341 times
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Originally Posted by Briolat21 View Post
That sounds more like nouveau riche to me ... Middle class (even upper) - still work. They do not primarily get income stream from investments.

We all know there's a huge disparity in what people consider "middle class" in America.. (i.e. in NY a single/childless wall street trader making $300K with bonuses over 1 million considers themselves "middle class" - while a teacher making $50k supporting a family of 3 in Cleveland also considers themselves comfortably middle class) So there's clearly not one list of anything relating to the middle class.

Middle Class: ranges from the bottom of lower middle class all the way to the top edge of the middle class which includes UMC members that just need to marry someone with a pedigree or title to become entry level Upper Class.

Wall Street trader: probably college educated, works for pay and lives in a major city so an urbanite

teacher: college educated, works for pay and lives in a major city so also an urbanite

Both of them can attend a symphony because cheap seats in both cities are under $50. Both can watch Playhouse 90 or Masterpiece Theater. Both use Middle Class style negotiations in their occupations. Both can afford to eat in each city's premier steakhouse. Both can afford curtains for privacy and a good pair of leather dress shoes(Bally's, Trickers, Johnston and Murphy, etc). Lastly, both can afford a single custom made suit from Yorkshire, which costs about $1000-1500.
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Old 10-26-2014, 03:40 AM
33,031 posts, read 23,716,178 times
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Originally Posted by tvdxer View Post
1. You own a large, flat-screen TV, but it's NOT in the living room. Your living room perhaps contains books or a grand piano.

2. Your father went to college, your mother most likely went to college, all your brothers and sisters and cousins except the black sheep of the extended family attended at least some college, and your family's college education stretches back generations (except if you're newly upper middle class).

3. When traveling, you prefer to choose destinations that are "not touristy" and give an "authentic" taste of local life.

4. You listen to NPR in the car.

5. If 35 or older, you participate in the community through being on the board of some local chapter of an organization, or extensively volunteering for it with your valuable free time.

6. If you're male, you golf, if not for the love of it than because of social pressure.

7. You are familiar with the following food items, even if you're from flyover country: hummus, couscous, sashimi, banh mi, and risotto.

8. You sometimes watch foreign films, and consider dubbing an abomination - you would much prefer subtitles.

9. You strongly identify with your career.

10. From preschool or a younger age, you enroll your children in a multitude of extracurricular activities - piano lessons, ballet, tennis, water polo, etc.

11. Your children's academic success is paramount to you, and you set very high standards. If they get a "C" in a class, either their teacher or the child has much to answer for. When in high school, you make sure they take lots of AP courses, and unless they are the brightest of the bunch, you hire a SAT tutor. Deep down inside, there's a burning desire to boast that your children went to a high-ranked university, or at least NOT one of the lesser state colleges, and certainly not a community college.

12. You love "nature", the "outdoors", and the "wilderness", and like tread softly through the woods in your $250 hiking boots with your $250 bag and perhaps sleep in your $1,000 tent, or if a northern clime, in your expensive cross-country skis. It can suck losing iPhone connectivity, though.

13. If you're a female, you don sunglasses even when it isn't that sunny out.

14. You drive only foreign cars, preferably Mercedes-Benz or BMW.

15. Staying in shape and in style is a priority to you. You have a gym membership, perhaps in addition to a road bike you paid a pretty penny for.

16. You like, or feign to like, the fine arts, and have attended a classical music concert, opera, or play at least once or twice (going on a field trip as a kid not included). You consider it perfectly natural to listen to classical music or jazz radio and patronize art-house cinema.

17. Planning for your retirement is important, and you fully understand such things as 401Ks and Roth IRAs. You might even have a financial advisor. You watch the stock market and probably participate in it somehow.

18. If you're 40 or older, your house measures over 2,500 square feet in area. If you designed it, you made sure to implement "green" features. The kitchen is spacious. Especially if in a southwestern state, you probably have some paid help cleaning it, perhaps full-time.

19. You probably don't live in one, unless you are in your 20s or early 30s, but you love "authentic" and "vibrant" urban spaces such as those found in New York City, San Francisco, and Portland, with plentiful pedestrian traffic, ample public transportation, narrow streets, and storefronts that are right up to the sidewalk rather than behind a sea of parking.

20. You don't like the homogenization of the United States through chain stores and franchises, but deep down you love Trader Joe's, REI, Whole Foods, Barnes and Noble, Chipotle, Macy's, IKEA, Target, and Fogo de Chao.

21. You want your children to be creative, imaginative, think out-of-the-box, and tolerant of differences. You perhaps even enjoy when they question one of your rules.

22. You regularly go to or host dinner parties. You have separate kitchen and dining rooms.

23. You have read, for leisure, at least one non-fiction title that does not fall into the category of self-help, automotive/technical, or religious books in the past year, and are familiar with authors, whom you often name-drop at above parties.

24. When your children are young, intellectual stimulation and creative expression is the primary goal of your toy-buying practices. No or limited cheap electronic playthings or radio-controlled monster trucks.

25. You have a rather refined taste in alcohol. You are familiar with local breweries, micro-brews, >$10 / bottle wines, and refined cocktails with non-obscene names.

UMC have separate kitchen and dining rooms and the men have a full set of golf clubs, but new money often is lukewarm to dinner parties and golf. New money pursuing these activities may be inauthentic, an affectation. UMC who work in Manhattan often live in Manhattan during the work week; this is an exception to #19. UMC know alcoholic beverages you've never heard of and will not find at your neighborhood liquor store.

In this post 'new money' refers to first generation UMC, those who personally ascended to UMC from lower levels. Not all UMC are first generation.

Last edited by freemkt; 10-26-2014 at 03:57 AM..
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Old 11-02-2014, 10:52 AM
Location: Seattle
20 posts, read 24,341 times
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Originally Posted by knurly View Post
That was quite a work. More than the gentle reader may expect from this upper-lower-class crust punk.

Upper lower class=blue collar aristocrat. I salute you and admire your directness.
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Old 11-02-2014, 10:59 AM
21,369 posts, read 15,529,939 times
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You know you are upper middle class if you save more annually than the median HH income
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Old 11-02-2014, 09:05 PM
9,805 posts, read 16,090,127 times
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Whole concept is kind of ridiculous; in America, your "class" is almost entirely defined by your wealth and income; even if you're nouveau riche, you're still rich, and that holds even more in the upper middle class.

Much of this list seems to be defining more a certain sort of wealthy urban liberal "NPR highbrow". There's lots of upper middle class people who don't fit that mold.
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