Sunday, May 15, 2005

More on the NYT article on class: my mom pointed out at dinner that one of the most interesting parts was the way people saw themselves. What conception of class in America lets one woman, whose thumbnail bio shouts "upper middle class," think of herself as "upper class," while a man (from Wilson) who makes $75K deems himself "working classs" and another guy making ten grand more says he's "middle class"?

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The mess at LinuxWorld gets messier, reports Dana Blankenhorn. "By and large publishers do not share journalism's ethical sense."

(Disclosure: I'm employed by ZD, one of the publishers cited by Blankenhorn for "paying editors well and preaching the value of ethical journalism.")

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Gate City really does not like this Creative Class stuff peddled by Richard Florida. I think Gate misses a bit of the argument -- some creative workers should be coming up with new stuff to manufacture, not just sitting around coffee houses wearing trendy eyeglasses -- but there is something noxious about the use of the word "class." The N&R article describes something different than a cadre of artistes, too: "Jobs that once required little independent thinking are becoming jobs that demand energy, innovation and accountability." Sounds more like a creative culture than a creative class to me.

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Terry Heaton: "Church as a conversation. What a concept! The problem is that religions, like other institutions, don't exist by listening; they exist by telling. This is at the heart of the cultural war that the institutions are fighting."

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NYT begins a series on class in America. This first article focuses mainly on economic status as the arbiter of class, which is fine as far as it goes, but doesn't tell the whole story. Social class and economic class overlap significantly, but not completely, and while economic class certainly helps define social status, it also works the other way around.

"One way to think of a person's position in society is to imagine a hand of cards. Everyone is dealt four cards, one from each suit: education, income, occupation and wealth, the four commonly used criteria for gauging class," write Janny Scott and David Leonhardt.

But there is all kinds of latitude within two of the markers on that list, education and occupation. Where you get your education has huge class implications -- it's not just what you learn there, it's who you go to school with (and who your parents and grandparents went to school with, too). The same applies to occupation -- there is a big difference between being a partner in a Wall Street law firm and handling traffic tickets and simple wills in a small town.

Connections and contacts and ease of movement through certain invisible barriers remain very important in this country. The private phonebook for the right club is a valuable asset. My guess is that it's much easier to attain wealth from a starting point of genteel poverty than one of just plain poverty.

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Frank Rich on the odd prevalence of closeted gays among the gay-bashers, along with a useful thumbnail history of anti-gay politics.

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Jon Lowder: "If you're an elected official from Forsyth County or Winston-Salem and are interested in having your own blog I'll be happy to host it for you and even train you to use it."

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Philly Inquirer annoints staff blogger to cover blogs. Smart.

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