Social Stratification Perspective of the Upper Classes

It is easy to think of the perspectives of the Upper classes as being downward looking, since we often comprehend the upper classes as being “at the top” of stratified society. When we classify such individuals by systems of layering or of stratification, it is not so easy to think of upper class people as looking outward, backward, forward, differently, the same, or inward as they get through the process of life. 

When we distinguish between the classes in terms of power, there is a basis of “more” or “less” power. But still, power is a way to get to the highest possible layer of society, which takes us right back to the “higher” and “lower” stratification system that is used to examine social placement and perspective.

If we go Marxist, we can look at the classes in terms of control of the means of production, which leads to wealth and power, which leads to being able to stratify. The same process can occur for those who control labor, control religious belief or control through other means, such as entertainment, writing or political acuity.

As a result, there are many paths to the top of the stratified layers of society, but once there, how does everything look?

First, there are those who challenge a person’s position at the top of all of those layers. There is outward looking perspective to determine who is trying to gain influence, whether it is religious, political, educational, service or advisory influence. There are neighbors, communities, employees, competitors, the law and government. Then there are those, like customers, labor and the unemployed, who want a larger piece of the pie. 

As a result, it is probably a myth that the upper class person can see everything because they are perched at a high perspective or because they have help in getting any information or news that they want to have. In reality, the upper class individual may be more able, less able or not able at all to see what is going on from a far more lofty height than their lower placed contemporaries.

One issue with upper class perspective is with  the service that is required to live an upper class life. There may be no ability, whatsoever, for some upper class people to go about and to live the normal day that the vast majority of people do. When former President George Bush could not navigate a common supermarket, he was greatly chastised for being out of touch with the people, but imagine not knowing how food is cooked, beds are made or household bills get paid. Many a film or book has dealt with the struggles of a pampered, wealthy person who suddenly has to fend for him or her self.

As a result, the upper class perspective might be a bizarre contrast between a vast ability to get information, combined with severe blindness and inability to see much of what goes on around them and in the larger world.

The same perspective goes for moral and intellectual education, where an upper class person can afford to avoid any technical or professional studies that lead to practical work and work experience. The general perception OF the upper classes is that they study the higher, more classical aspects of education rather than that which can be applied to work in the real world.  This may have been the socially desired  way in the past, but is not necessarily true today, as many upper class individuals become doctors, engineers, or multiple billionaire computer software developers.

The upper class perspective is dependent upon the background and culture of the upper class person and how they are classified as such. If, for example, a poor person became a powerful and wealthy religious, business or political mogul, he or she will look at the world differently than a person who is of the nth generation of a wealthy and powerful clan. An entertainer who was a wild child while earning wealth might turn into a parent who instills traditional and much more reasonable values at home and with the children.

An interesting perspective of some upper class individuals is to live a simpler, more hardworking life whenever grand social obligations do not call. The Queen of England was an auto mechanic during WWII. She will put on her boots and muck around on her land just as any other land owner would do. Others prefer the lifestyle of ranchers, equestrian experts, scientists or farmers. Others would never be identified as upper class individuals, as they never dress or behave as if they have great wealth or power.

One upper class clan may have instilled certain moral, social and other obligations to do service to society, while another might have instilled the idea that a hedonistic or even evil lifestyle is just fine. The British Royal Family has a vastly different overall perspective than the family of Saddam Hussein. 

But the ultimate perspective of the upper classes is from the position of grandiosity. There is an element of grandiosity in work, position, titles, expectations, ideas, standards, possessions, power and a lifestyle that is perfectly normal to them.  And some realities are that such grandiosity will never go away in their lifetimes.

There is also the perspective that much can be done without taking the consequences that are suffered by those at the lower social layers. Perhaps there is a perspective of superiority, infallibility and invincibility that is taken for granted.  Incredible life goals, ideas for society and political intentions are expected, often to an extent that would seem fantastical or grandiose to those with much fewer resources.

Finally,  the perspectives of many of the upper class individual may be permanently ingrained in them, depending on how long they have been in their positions. Such perspectives will not easily change or go away, even if the engines of their power, wealth, title or position are taken away from them and they must live among the lower layers of society.