In an egalitarian society that is like the United States, money, inheritance or celebrity are the roads to the Upper classes of social stratification. Many Americans consider the ultimate upper class to be populated by those who have more than money, inheritance or celebrity: they have titles, position and power.
The upper upper class can be considered to be the American version of royalty, with celebrity, money, title, position and power that passes on to the next generations until the members of the clan die off or degenerate into incapacity to carry on with the qualities and work of their ancestors.
In terms of identifiable wealth, there are now many who have billions and even a few who have trillions in assets. But lifetime accomplishment, birthright, title, position and power can place a person in the upper upper classes based on social stature.
People who do not have the requisite money can be human institutions who earn permanent placement in the upper upper classes, regardless of wealth. Human institutions achieve historical levels of achievement and contributions to society. It takes much more than one scientific sensation, a couple of hit films or a few years of sold out performances to achieve upper or upper upper class standing as a human institution.
Martin Luther King and his family, Sir Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth, Lady Diana, Einstein, Oprah Winfrey, Paul Newman, President Nelson Mandela, The Kennedy Clan, Bill and Melinda Gates and others who may have not been extremely wealthy or were born to royal status are examples of human institutions.
Human institutions have their position in the upper upper class because they have made major and lasting contributions to society, technology, or the arts and have become permanent and positively identifiable role models around the world. Their flaws, faults and mistakes in life are never sufficient to take away their standing as world and historical treasures.
The upper class, in comparison, is a roiling, changeable and volatile group. Members of the upper class can gain and lose stature, fortune, title, position, power, their freedom and even their lives within years. They can leave brilliant legacies that affect generations of people for the good. They can leave no lasting legacy at all, or they can leave legacies that are scandalous, represent models of ill behavior, or create lasting human, social and environmental damage.
The upper class individual can change city skylines, conduct wars, change the way that lives and business are conducted, or they can establish beneficial non profit foundations that support the arts, education, medicine and the sciences. Alternatively, the upper class individual can become immersed in destructive social, criminal and professional crimes and scandals that change the face of society and the nature of the world.
The upper class is more vulnerable to losing their status, especially if all of their standing comes from power, title and the positions that money can buy. Many times, the wealth is only on paper or is bound up in fixed assets. There is no birthright, no fundamental and priceless contribution to society or the world, or no conduct that would call for others in the upper class to continue including them.
The upper, upper class begins with an upper upper class education in early childhood. There is education and experience with social and other skills as well as attendance at institutions that are closed to all but children of the top levels of societies from around the world.
The upper class has access to their own system of elite educational institutions that begin with early childhood, but must sometimes must fight tooth and nail to get their children into scarce positions in those institutions.
It is reasonable to consider that groups of families that have grown up together, children who have gone to the same schools and colleges, and a level of society that travels and lives with the same quality of life would be happy to spend most of their time within their own group, regardless of social standing.
The idea of closed societies among the top social classes is not that alien a concept, given the much larger number of people who seek to prey upon, cheat or cause problems because of the attraction of money, power and privilege. But the upper class will be more exposed, open to and interactive with a wider variety of people than the highest class, especially when many of them are public figures and celebrities.
Both on personal and professional levels, the upper upper class, unless they are well known celebrities, will be more limited in their exposure to unknown people thanks to very expensive and large staffs that ensure tight security, gate keeping and screening of those who desire access. But the people who attempt to access them will be far more aggressive, resourceful, even cunning and persistent.