Essay: The modern day view on society and culture.

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  • Subject area(s): Psychology essays
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  • Published on: August 9, 2018
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In today society if you are not above average or what is conceived by others to be ‘normal’, based on dimensions such as culture, politic, social and economic, you are considered ‘less than’ or abnormal, you face exclusion from a society that you were born into. Examples of minority groups are the LGBTQ+ community, Social class, disability, gender and race. Within this assignment we will be assessing the extent to which mainstream psychology has contributed to the exclusion of marginalized groups, then comparing with how features and research within critical psychology is able to make reparations to those excluded, focusing on Social class specifically the working/lower class, then concluding with final observations of research found within to the assignment.
The Social class system affects many aspects of the human experience, these categories offer an identity and stereotype to individuals without a choice. Social class is known as a group of individuals who occupy similar characteristic, traits as well as socio-economic indicators and the socio-cultural aspects of the individual’s life (Rothman, 2017). These economic markers that provide part of the decision are based on, job title, education, earning, and where they live (Cole, 2017) Alongside these indicators researcher believe that cultural capital offers insight into how these groups are labelled, this “currency” is the idea that those with understanding of behaviours and knowledge of the upper class or those seen as dominant in their culture hold, are able to move upwards, reflecting in the clothes or style of the individual, intellect, education and rhetoric (Bourdieu, 1986).

The core concept of the social class system is hierarchy, by being closer to the top, the more power and autonomy you have with having greater access to resources such as healthcare and education (Montague, 1951). Within this social class system there are often three to four level that one would be placed into, at the top of the “pecking order” a metaphor used to describe the hierarchy of status, is the Upper class this group will be filled with those wealthiest, a graduate degree within a job such as doctor, lawyer or politician for example, those who hold the most power with our society. Then comes the Middle class those who survive off earned incomes without help, often educators, conventional and seen as the everyday Norm. Finally, the lower/working class this group hold the least status in terms of the ladder with lower income, intelligence, fewer assets, access to resources and stigma which does not encourage motivation for transitioning (Fox Et al., 2009).

“Classism refers to stereotypes and prejudice about class position that contributes to discrimination and domination” (Day et al., 2014). The class system is a socially constructed concept built by those who would be at the top, this power based concept grew Classism, which is the attitude and belief system that encourages difference between the classes ensuring that those in the upper class maintain their dominance with however the expense of the lower/middle class by diminishing access and encouraging negative typecasting (Fox Et al., 2009). We are socialized to want power and to look at those with no power or the ability to gain it as undesirable, this occurs through being nurtured by family or friends and how the classes are portrayed through media such as film, T.V, social networks and books, which are often ran or publicised by the elites of society showing only the desired parts of popular culture and ignoring the less desirable, unless it has an admirable story line of ‘rags to ritches’ (Hall, 1982).

However, in reality meritocracy, meaning that through hard work anyone can transfer into the upper class, is filled with greater obstacles than what media and films may portray, it is particularly difficulty for those in the lower class. A poll taken by YouGov for the Economist looked at how well the population in Britain are aware of their social class, results showed that 48% of people over 30 hope to reach further up the ‘ladder’ than their parent, however only 28% feel that they would be able to achieve upward mobility, these statistics show the attitudes toward social mobility as being unlikely, in addition to these pieces of data, the poll also showed the 2 thirds of the 1,995 sample believed that they or any children or future children will be able to move upward of the social class they’re born into (Class, 2006). Classism and social opinion, contribute to the marginalization of the lower class, stopping them from living fulfilled social lives, with no control over expectations of their abilities or resources available to them, decreasing their self-esteem and confidence due to public attitudes which are encouraged by media, showing how this class is oppressed and rejected by society (Prilleltensky, 2008).

In addition to being excluded through social representation and public attitudes, Mainstream psychology also contribute as an influencer to the marginalization of the lower class, as the social science contains attributes and ideas that are in line with the ideologies of the social class system. The role of psychologists is seen as respected and influential in society bringing foreword development, understanding and knowledge. Psychology and practitioners are themselves upper class in the social system, due to the education required as mentioned previously a graduate degree, high intellect and income are socioeconomic indicators of Upper class membership (Rothman, 2017). when receiving treatment from practitioner we trust their support, council and diagnosis, by respecting the qualification or title of Dr understanding that they must know better than us because they have certificates on show to prove it, this shows how psychologist are a part of the hierarchy, by using their knowledge as influence to persuade or guide care users, this indicates that a power dynamic is used between the client and practitioners (Saper, 1970).

Psychology is able to identity abnormal behaviours and personalities as it concentrates on people, cultures and societies, as we’ve observed psychology itself is powered by elitist, therefore it often follows similar views of what characteristics define those who are different or ‘abnormal’ with those in the upper class that reject the working class. Within western culture psychology see ‘normal’ as individuals who are have appropriate behaviours, happiness, health, productive work and being able to rely on one’s self however for those of lower socio economic status their accessibility to higher skilled job, efficient healthcare and in some cases the need for financial assistance, does not fit the psychological model of ‘Normal’ (Maisel, 2012).

Ignoring those who are living below the perceived line of normal, is also seen within research as Psychology see the ideal subject that will be used to generalised in clinical research as a white, male, middle class person, this is an example of how mainstream psychology may exclude other minorities such as race, gender and the lower class (Levesque, 2012). Samples often used within psychological research are often gained from college/university students, this pool of participants will often be representatives of the middle or upper class, as students will often have a higher IQ through gaining education and a degree, putting them into middle class section of the ‘ladder’, this leads to the middle class being over represented in research as the ‘norm’ however then ignoring those in the population who are unable to acquire higher education, meaning the research is not representable or generalised and biased, however these factors are overlooked, further supporting the ideals that lower class member of society are excluded from the norm and considered ‘others’ within the field of research (Fox Et al., 2009).

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