Cultivating Class Ethnocentrism
There is an anecdote of a private tutor in a wealthy family who sought to teach his pupil about the life of the poor. Then the little rich girl wrote a story about the poor, beginning, "Once upon 'a time there was a very poor family. Everybody was poor. The Papa. Was poor, the Mama was poor, the children were poor, the cook was poor, the maid was poor, the butler was poor, the gardener was poor everybody was poor." Members of one class cannot help judging members of. other classes, in terms of their own class expectations arid values. The middle class upper-class snobbishness but strives desperately to raise its own children in a "good" neighborhood, People at every class level tend to see those above themselves d effete, snobbish, and. pretentious and those beneath as either. disgusting or pathetic, as either good-for-nothing or "awfully pushy." At all termed levels, people tend to attribute their own status to personal achievement, the status of those above to luck, and that of those. beneath them to inability and laziness. A pattern of living for the moment without trying to plan for the future is practical for a life in which one never knows how long a job will last. Similarly, the aggressiveness which keeps a lower-class child in trouble in school may be the only survival adjustment possible in a neighborhood filled violence. Middle-class people who know little about the stress of lower-class life often wonder, "Why can't they be more like us?" This question betrays ethnocentrism, for it assumes that others should be like us. It also shows a failure to realize at one's own standards have grown out of one's own life situation and cannot easily be learned by those in other circumstances.