Upper middle class


Upper middle class

The upper middle class is a sociological concept referring to the social group constituted by higher-status members of the middle class. This is in contrast to the term lower middle class used for the group at the other end of the middle class scale and the regular middle class. There is considerable debate as to how the upper middle class might be defined. According to Max Weber the upper middle class consists of well-educated professionals with graduate degrees and comfortable incomes.

The American upper middle class is defined similarly using income, education and occupation as main indicators.cite book | last = Thompson | first = William | authorlink = | coauthors = Joseph Hickey | year = 2005 | title = Society in Focus | publisher = Pearson | location = Boston, MA| id = 0-205-41365-X] In the United States, the upper middle class is defined as mostly consisting of white-collar professionals who not only have above-average personal incomes and advanced educational degreescite book | last = Thompson | first = William | authorlink = | coauthors = Joseph Hickey | year = 2005 | title = Society in Focus | publisher = Pearson | location = Boston, MA| id = 0-205-41365-X] but also a high degree of autonomy in their work, leading to higher job satisfaction.cite book | last = Eichar | first = Douglas | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 1989 | title = Occupation and Class Consciousness in America | publisher = Greenwood Press | location = Westport, Connecticut | id = 0-313-26111-3] The main occupational tasks of upper middle class individuals tend to center on conceptualizing, consulting, and instruction.cite book | last = Ehrenreich | first = Barbara | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 1989 | title = Fear of Falling, The Inner Life of the Middle Class
publisher = Harper Collins | location = New York, NY | id = 0-06-0973331
]

Professions

Certain professions can be judged as "upper middle class" though any such measurement remains somewhat subjective because of people's differing perception of class. Most people in the upper-middle class strata are highly educated white collar professionals such as physicians, lawyers, economists, accountants, university professors, architects, scientists, engineers, dentists, pharmacists, high-level civil servants and the intelligentsia. Other common professions include corporate executive and business owner. Generally, people in these professions have an advanced post-secondary education and a comfortable standard of living.cite book | last = Thompson | first = William | authorlink = | coauthors = Joseph Hickey | year = 2005 | title = Society in Focus | publisher = Pearson | location = Boston, MA| id = 0-205-41365-X]

Values

Most people encompassing this station in life have a high regard for higher education, and probably more than any other socio-economic class strive for themselves and their children to obtain graduate or at least four-year undergraduate degrees.

In the U.S., the upper middle class is rather divided in terms of political ideology. Education commonly increases the chance of a person's subscribing to liberal beliefs once they have reached the college level.cite web|url=http://www.collegenews.org/x2782.xml|title=O'Bannon, B. R. (27 August, 2003). In Defense of the 'Liberal' Professor. "Indianapolis Star".|accessdate=2007-07-02] In terms of income, liberals tend to be tied with pro-business conservatives.cite web|url=http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=945|title=Pew Reasearch Center. (10 May, 2005). Beyond Red vs. Blue.|accessdate=2007-07-12] Most mass affluent households tend to be more right-leaning on fiscal issues but more left-leaning on social issues.cite web|url=http://gmj.gallup.com/content/14293/Marketing-Mass-Affluent.aspx|title=, R. & Saad, L. (9 December, 2004). Marketing to the Mass Affluent. "Gallup Management Journal".|accessdate=2007-07-19] The majority of college-educated professionals, who compose 15% of the population and 20% of the electorate, favor the Democratic Party.cite web|url=http://dir.salon.com/story/news/feature/2003/07/11/dean/index.html|title=Judis, B. J. (11 July, 2003). The trouble with Howard Dean. "Salon.com".|accessdate=2007-07-19] The majority, between 50% and 60%, of households with incomes above $50,000 overall, not all of whom are upper middle class, supported the Republican Party in the 2000, 2004 and 2006 elections.cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2000/results/index.epolls.html|title=CNN. (2000). Exit Poll.|access date=2008-05-27] cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2000/results/index.epolls.html|title=CNN. (2000). Exit Poll.|access date=2008-05-27] cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/US/P/00/epolls.0.html|title=CNN. (2004). Exit Poll.|access date=2008-05-27] Academia and those with graduate degrees overall favor the Democratic Party.cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/US/P/00/epolls.0.html|title=CNN. (2004). Exit Poll.|accessdate=2007-07-11] cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2006/pages/results/states/US/H/00/epolls.0.html|title=CNN. (2006). Exit Poll.|accessdate=2007-07-11] In 2005, 72% of surveyed full-time faculty members at four-year institutions, the majority of whom would be considered upper middle class,cite book | last = Thompson | first = William | authorlink = | coauthors = Joseph Hickey | year = 2005 | title = Society in Focus
publisher = Pearson | location = Boston, MA | id = 0-205-41365-X
] identified themselves as liberal.cite web|url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A8427-2005Mar28.html|title=Kurtz, H. (29 March, 2005). College Faculties A Most Liberal Lot, Study Finds. "The Washington Post".|accessdate=2007-07-02]

Education plays a major role in determining tastes and ideologies in this class. A graduate degree, and often even more higher education, is a prerequisite to work in one of the traditional "professions" and as a result this segment of the upper middle class is generally more liberal in their political ideologies and more urbane in their tastes. Corporate members of the upper middle class, on the other hand, may have a less advanced higher education (they may have worked their way up to their current social station from an entry-level corporate position). It should be noted, however, that many business persons do have advanced post-secondary education, most notably those with MBAs. Furthermore, in some cases professionals such as chemists or economists may be employed by private businesses and have managerial duties aside from their professional research duties.

The upper middle class is often the group that shapes society and brings social movements to the forefront. Movements such as the Peace Movement, The Anti-Nuclear Movement, Environmentalism, the Anti-Smoking movement, and even in the past with Blue laws and the Temperance movement are all products of the upper middle class. Some claim this is because this is the largest class (and the lowest class) with any true political power for positive change, while others claim some of the more restrictive social movements (such as with smoking and drinking) are based upon "saving people from themselves."cite book | last = Ehrenreich | first = Barbara | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 1989 | title = Fear of Falling, The Inner Life of the Middle Class
publisher = Harper Collins | location = New York, NY | id = 0-06-0973331
]

American upper middle class

:"See American Professional/Managerial middle class for a complete overview of the American middle classes."
In the United States the term middle class and its subdivisions are an extremely vague concept as neither economists nor sociologists have precisely defined the term.cite web|url=http://www.pbs.org/now/politics/middleclassoverview.html|title=Middle class according to The Drum Major Institute for public policy|accessdate=2006-07-25] There are several perceptions of the upper middle class and what the term means. In academic models the term applies to highly educated salaried professionals whose work is largely self-directed. Many have graduate degrees with educational attainment serving as the main distinguishing feature of this class. Household incomes commonly may exceed $100,000, with some smaller one-income earners earning incomes in the high 5-figure range.cite book | last = Thompson | first = William | authorlink = | coauthors = Joseph Hickey | year = 2005 | title = Society in Focus
publisher = Pearson | location = Boston, MA | id = 0-205-41365-X
] cite book | last = Gilbert | first = Dennis | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 1998 | title = The American Class Structure | publisher = Wadsworth Publishing | location = New York | id = 0-534-50520-1]

cquote
"The upper middle class has grown...and its composition has changed. Increasingly salaried managers and professionals have replaced individual business owners and independent professionals. The key to the success of the upper middle class is the growing importance of educational certification...its lifestyles and opinions are becoming increasingly normative for the whole society. It is in fact a porous class, open to people...who earn the right credentials. "- Dennis Gilbert, The American Class Structure, 1998.cite book | last = Gilbert | first = Dennis | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 1998 | title = The American Class Structure | publisher = Wadsworth Publishing | location = New York | id = 0-534-50520-1]

In addition to having autonomy in their work, above-average incomes, and advanced educations, the upper middle class also tends to be influential, setting trends and largely shaping public opinion.cite book | last = Gilbert | first = Dennis | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 1998 | title = The American Class Structure | publisher = Wadsworth Publishing | location = New York | id = 0-534-50520-1] cite book | last = Ehrenreich | first = Barbara | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 1989 | title = Fear of Falling, The Inner Life of the Middle Class | publisher = Harper Collins | location = New York, NY | id = 0-06-0973331] Overall, members of this class are also secure from economic down-turns and, unlike their counterparts in the statistical middle class, do not need to fear downsizing, corporate cost-cutting, or outsourcing -- an economic benefit largely attributable to their graduate degrees and comfortable incomes, likely in the top income quintile or top third.cite book | last = Thompson | first = William | authorlink = | coauthors = Joseph Hickey | year = 2005 | title = Society in Focus | publisher = Pearson | location = Boston, MA| id = 0-205-41365-X] Typical professions for this class include professors, accountants, architects, urban planners, engineers, economists, pharmacists, political scientists, physicians, government administrators, commissioned military officers and lawyers.cite book | last = Ehrenreich | first = Barbara | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 1989 | title = Fear of Falling, The Inner Life of the Middle Class | publisher = Harper Collins | location = New York, NY | id = 0-06-0973331] cite web|url=http://www.bls.gov/oco/oco1002.htm|title=Professional Occupations according to the US Department of Labor|accessdate=2006-07-26]

Income

While many Americans see income as the prime determinant of class, occupational status, educational attainment, and value systems are equally important. Income is in part determined by the scarcity of certain skill sets.cite book | last = Thompson | first = William | authorlink = | coauthors = Joseph Hickey | year = 2005 | title = Society in Focus] As a result an occupation that requires a scarce skill, the attainment of which is often achieved through an educational degree, and entrusts its occupant with a high degree of influence will usually offer high economic compensation. The high income is meant to ensure that individuals obtain the necessary skills (e.g. medical or graduate school) and complete their tasks with the necessary valor.cite book | last = Levine | first = Rhonda | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 1998 | title = Social Class and Stratification
publisher = Rowman & Littlefield | location = Lanham, MD | id = 0-8476-8543-8
] There are also differences between household and individual income. In 2005, 42% of US households (76% among the top quintile) had two or more income earners; as a result, 18% of households but only 5% of individuals had six figure incomes.cite web|url=http://pubdb3.census.gov/macro/032006/hhinc/new05_000.htm|title=US Census Bureau, income quintile and top 5% household income distribution and demographic characteristics, 2006|accessdate=2006-12-28] To illustrate, two nurses each making $55,000 per year can out-earn, in a household sense, a single attorney who makes a median of $95,000 annually.cite web|url=http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos083.htm#earnings|title=US Department of Labor, median income of registered nurses|accessdate=2007-01-02] cite web|url=http://content.salary.monster.com/articles/salary/highestpay/|title=Bureau of Labor statistics data published by Monster.com, 20 highest paying jobs|accessdate=2006-12-27]

Sociologists Dennis Gilbert, Willam Thompson and Joseph Hickey estimate the upper middle class to constitute roughly 15% of the population. Using the 15% figure one may conclude that the American upper middle class consists, strictly in an income sense, of professionals with personal incomes in excess of $62,500, who commonly reside in households with six figure incomes.cite web|url=http://pubdb3.census.gov/macro/032006/hhinc/new05_000.htm|title=US Census Bureau, income quintile and top 5% household income distribution and demographic characteristics, 2006|accessdate=2006-12-28] cite web|url=http://pubdb3.census.gov/macro/032006/perinc/new01_001.htm|title=US Census Bureau, distribution of personal income, 2006|accessdate=2006-12-09] cite book | last = Thompson | first = William | authorlink = | coauthors = Joseph Hickey | year = 2005 | title = Society in Focus | publisher = Pearson | location = Boston, MA| id = 0-205-41365-X] cite book | last = Gilbert | first = Dennis | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 1998 | title = The American Class Structure | publisher = Wadsworth Publishing | location = New York | id = 0-534-50520-1] The difference between personal and household income can be explained by considering that 76% of households with incomes exceeding $90,000 (the top 20%) had two or more income earners.cite web|url=http://pubdb3.census.gov/macro/032006/hhinc/new05_000.htm|title=US Census Bureau, income quintile and top 5% household income distribution and demographic characteristics, 2006|accessdate=2006-12-28]

The English upper middle class

This is a very specific class in Britain and is, in many respects, peculiar to England as its characteristics do not fit easily into the social gradations of the other constituent nations of the United Kingdom.

In England this class of people is less easily defined, and personal wealth is not a necessary criterion. Frequently its members are members of professions (traditionally academia, law and medicine), although merchants too were able to penetrate its ranks. However, being a member of a profession does not automatically elevate a person to this class, and it is quite common for an upper middle class person not to work in a traditional profession.

Instead, accent, language, education (usually at a good public school), family background and understatement, in both behavior and taste, are defining characteristics of the upper middles. Although not of the landowning class, its members may aspire to the characteristics of, or be described as, gentlemen.

The character of Charles Ryder in Evelyn Waugh's novel, Brideshead Revisited is a fine example of an early twentieth-century upper middle class Englishman. His language, accent and manners are similar to an aristocrat's, but in place of the aristocrat's self-assuredness there is an air of slight uncertainty and diffidence. A more modern day example is Charles in Four Weddings and a Funeral, played by Hugh Grant.

SOURCE: US Census Bureau, 2006cite web|url=http://pubdb3.census.gov/macro/032006/perinc/new03_001.htm|title=US Census Bureau, personal income distribution, age 25+, 2006|accessdate=2006-12-28] cite web|url=http://pubdb3.census.gov/macro/032006/hhinc/new06_000.htm|title=US Census Bureau, overall household income distribution, 2006|accessdate=2006-12-28]

ee also

*Middle class
*Social class
*Bourgeois personality

United States

*Affluence in the United States
*American middle class
*Educational attainment in the United States
*Household income in the United States
*Personal income in the United States
*Social structure of the United States

Notes

External links

* [http://countrystudies.us/colombia/40.htm Definition of Middle Class stratification]
* [http://www.expandglobal.com/General_info/education_and_income.htm Relationship between income and education]

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