How do we choose our partners? Does their social class influence our choice? Sociologists and psychologists say yes. According to them, a harmonious relationship is possible only between a man and a woman who belong to the same social class. But gradually, as they get to know each other better, they begin to realize they come from different worlds. But usually, cross-class couples face a lot of issues.
People like Christie-born into the working-class but now college-educated-tended to prefer taking what I call a laissez-faire approach to their daily lives. They preferred to go with the flow, enjoy the moment, and live free from self-imposed constraints. They assumed things would work out without their intervention.
People like Mike-those born into the middle class-instead tended to prefer to take what I call a managerial approach to their daily lives. They preferred to plan, monitor, organize, and oversee.
They assumed that things would not work out without their active intervention. The people I interviewed did not just apply laissez-faire and managerial tendencies to one ct of their lives, but seven.
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When it came to how to attend to their money, paid work, housework, time, leisure, parenting, and emotions, middle-class-origin respondents tended to want to plan, organize, and oversee. Working-class-origin respondents more often preferred to let things take their own course without as much intervention. Take, for example, how Christie and Mike thought about money.
When I met them, they had shared a bank account for over two decades, but they did not share ideas of how to use the money in it. A small amount in savings was also normal to her as a child, and continued to be normal to her as a college-educated adult.
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Now that she and Mike were both college-educated professionals who earned much more than her parents, this seemed especially true. Free from concerns over necessities, she now made a point to be free from worrying about money.
Mike, however, grew up in a family with more money and more options. His family could pay for their daily needs, then choose how to save for college tuition, retirement, rainy days, and leisure.
For him, thinking about how to manage money was normal and he learned that management could make a difference. As an adult, Mike budgeted, monitored their current expenditures, forecasted their future expenses, and worried about whether he was earning enough. We have a lot of expenses.
Their differences also extended to work. Christie grew up observing her father work in a job as a maintenance worker at her public school while her mother did unpaid labor at home.
There was no career ladder for her father to climb. Hours were circumscribed by a time clock and putting in more hours would not lead to more status or opportunities. Mike also saw his mother doing unpaid home labor, but observed his father, a professor, on a career ladder-from graduate student, to assistant, associate, and then full professor.
More hours could lead to more books published, more prestige, and more opportunities to share his ideas. Mike owned his own business.
He worked long hours despite not being paid by the hour and he constantly felt pressure to achieve more. Christie asked him to work fewer hours and have more faith that his business would do fine without his planning, strategizing, and long hours. So, just as Mike asked Christie to take a more managerial approach to work-one where she organized and planned her career trajectory-Christie asked Mike to take a more laissez-faire approach-one where he put in less time, did less planning, and assumed his career would be okay.
Christie maintained her hands-off approach to work.
Sociologists and psychologists say yes. According to them, a harmonious relationship is possible only between a man and a woman who belong to the same social class. Indeed, we feel more comfortable with people from "our league", that is the people with a similar level of education, interests, and values.
Mike maintained his hands-on one. Christie wanted each to do the household tasks as they got around to them.
Feb 29, Stay away from dating books with lots of rules. While delving into dating classes I came across quite a few books on the subject of dating. Some were helpful; many were not. I highly suggest staying away from any dating books that talk about too many rules. In the end, dating involves two humans, and it should not be a game to play. If you are in a relationship with a person from a different social class, be honest with yourself about how you feel about the social status difference, and have heart-to-heart discussions about this difference and its potential impact on how you relate to each other. Dec 09, "Someone from a lower class dating an upper class person might experience embarrassment, feelings of inadequacy or even anger toward their partner," he says. "An upper class person dating someone.
Mike preferred to manage his feelings-to slowly process and weigh how to express them. Christie felt it was more genuine to express emotions as they were felt and in the way they were felt. Christie summarized their differences when she described Mike as Type A, driven, and organized-all things that she felt she was not.
Some of the differences that Christie and Mike expressed might sound like gender differences. Gender certainly shapes how much time each spouse spends on each task and how much power they have over decisions in different spheres. Take, for example, Leslie and Tom. They proudly proclaim that they are nerds: they met at a science-fiction convention, continued their courtship though singing together in a science-fiction themed choir, and, as a married couple, engage in role-playing games together.
Their shared interests and college degrees, however, could not mask the lingering ways their class backgrounds shaped their lives and their marriage. Leslie, a fit forty-year-old with short brown hair and glasses, was raised by a graduate-school-educated middle-manager and a college-educated homemaker.
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He attended public school. While their childhood class differences certainly could have been wider, they still mapped onto ways of organizing their lives.
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Leslie, like Mike, preferred a managerial approach to her life-scheduling, planning, organizing, and monitoring. Tom, like Christie, felt that a hands-off approach was a better way to live. The differences that Leslie and Tom described about money mirrored those that Mike and Christie expressed. Both big picture and small picture stuff. Their compromise was that Tom checked with Leslie before making big purchases.
Tom still assumed it would all work out, that a hands-off approach would do just fine. Leslie also noted that she took a managerial approach to work, whereas Tom took a laissez-faire one.
Tom was a college-educated computer programmer.
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And this may sound dumb, but the actual goals, what they are, worry me less than not having any. Goals were to be created and worked toward. Tom did not have the same sense. Their differences also extended past what is directly related to class-money and work-to other parts of their lives.
Like Mike, Leslie wanted to structure housework more than Tom did, so she delegated tasks and monitored his work. Tom, like Christie, figured the housework could be done when he got to it, without as much of a schedule.
Leslie and Mike liked to plan and organize in general.
The systematic differences that these couples faced meant that class infused their marriages, usually without their knowledge. These differences, however, were not experienced in a uniform way.
A minority of couples, however, found their differences to be more divisive. Christie and Mike were one of the couples who dealt with their differences with respect and even admiration.
She appreciated how well Mike had done in his career and respected that he needed more planning, organization, and monitoring to feel secure. Leslie and Tom did not navigate their differences with such ease. As such, her strategy was to get him to change-to get him to do things in a more managerial way. But her strategy left them both unhappy. This imbalance of power may not have been problematic in times when marriage was not supposed to be a relationship between equals - in patriarchal societies, it was accepted that the male partner would wield more sexual, economic and political sway over the female partner in all institutions ranging from law, medicine, governance to family and marriage.
The notion that marriage should ideally be a relationship between equals is relatively new, one that came about as a by product of female emancipation and increased egalitarianism in different social institutions in the latter half of the twentieth century. In this modern notion of marriage, if one partner has more power - as a result of access to greater financial resources - it becomes difficult to maintain the illusion of an equal relationship.
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Difference in cultural assumptions Marriage between partners from difference classes is not simply about two partners having different financial resources but also about clashing cultural and social norms. People who marry across class lines are moving outside their comfort zones, into the uncharted territory of partners with a different level of lifestyle and education.
Mar 14, In an odd way, one cross-class relationship this creates is the one between parents and children. Luckily, upper-class partners in McDowell et al.'s study often said that exposure to a lower-class partner's reality had enriched their lives, by giving them new perspectives on the society they thought they knew. Marriage between partners from difference classes is not simply about two partners having different financial resources but also about clashing cultural and social norms. People who marry across class lines are moving outside their comfort zones, into the uncharted territory of partners with a different level of lifestyle and education. Apr 05, In her book The Power of the Past, the sociologist Jessi Streib shows that marriages between someone with a middle-class background and someone with a working-class .
These differences are most starkly represented in the different set of assumptions that the partners may have about things like manners, food, child-rearing, gift-giving and how to spend vacations. Something as practical as hobbies and interests may reveal a noticeable difference between partners brought up in different social classes - one may prefer bowling on Friday nights and meeting friends over in pubs while the other may wish to go sailing on the marina or go to the opera on Sunday night.
While these differences may seem meagre in the context of romantic love, couples who share similar cultural tastes and habits have been known to better weather the everyday stresses and strains of married life. Differences in value systems At the heart of diverging cultural assumptions in different classes lies a different set of values as well.
Even though basis code of morality is uniform for the whole society - as indeed it is codified in law - certain differences in what is and is not important for individuals and relationships may create a breach in an inter-class marriage.
In a rural classes belonging to agrarian economies, for instance, family and kin networks are extremely important and individual choice is accorded less value. This is because farm and land-based economic activities are labor-intensive and need participation from several family members.
On the other hand in urban professional classes, it is alright to follow individual impulses and gratify personal desires. Such differences in value systems could be difficult for a couple to adjust to, in case they come from different classes.