The best way to study social classes and the diversity of such in a culture would be to begin by defining what social class is. In order to make a more accurate study, it was part of my method to interview someone with actual exposure to this type of social strata. I believe that on interviewing him, a real true-to-life and accurate first-hand observation may be given. As, he was an Armenian, I place this culture as my basis and standard.
Now, to begin would be to define what social class is. His best definition would be a separation of people based on the amount of money a family holds. This would then dictate their classification and status in society. The amount of money they would have as a clan would serve as a basis for their status and how they are placed by the general public.
Basically, the greater amount of wealth possessed by a family garnered from their business and labor, the higher their status in society and in the social strata. The only exception to this would be those involved in the mafia or similar shady dealing, whereas the source of money is questionably from jobs of ill-repute. These would then have the family classified as being part of corrupt politics, and may give the family a bad name despite the amount of wealth.
In the culture under study, I saw the classification was basically between the poor and rich. There was a wide separation between these two, as middle class was small in quantity. It is a widespread phenomenon and a social stratum that is of general knowledge throughout the country. Families that are part of the rich may be those that own homes and have adequate sources of water and facility. They would be the ones who would wear more clothes, be seen to carry themselves with more “class”, and in fact those who would be the ones who hire people from the lower classes as their servants or employees.
Those who are not, namely the poor, would be those in the more congested areas and towns, where luxuries such as heated water are not within access. They would be the general masses and rabble who live day to day just trying to make a living and get by. Because of the wide separation between rich and poor, there is few middle class. The distinction between the strata is evident. Either one is among the select who are born into comfort and of that more comfortable environment, or one is born into the rough real world where the grind of everyday life involves effort, blood, sweat and tears.
The difficulty with the social class system is that it is an evident source of injustice and inequality amongst the people. For example, when you get in trouble with the police, rich people always get off after they pay the police through bribery/ On the other hand, poor people go to jail. The fact that the rich have more wealth, most especially due to their separation from the poor by a wide margin, gives them the power to roam freely with more privilege and leniency to bend rules set by the government.
They have the power to live above the law and move things to their advantage because of the money that they possess. It is also within their reach to be treated with a double standard, where the poor may be treated as usually guilty and less trusted, while the rich get off the hook. The rich are the ones more likely to be driving cars however they will not be fined for overspeeding and the like. The poor however may not be committing the crime but will be under greater suspect, because of the fact that they are poor.
There are also other disadvantages to this system. The poor stay poor and get poorer. The rich stay amongst themselves and stay rich. There is a vast separation and no room for getting better. The lack of education stays the same and there is no room for growth. As the wealth stays within the rich, it is very hard for the poor to elevate themselves to a higher standard, and by virtue of their birth into the poor, they stay poor. It is only the rich who have benefits and stay within them.
This was again reiterated during my interview. The interviewee being of the richer strata stated that because he was from a wealthier community, he and all those with him knew that they would remain wealthy. Also, by living in a wealthy area, they had a clean and beautiful location, which was patrolled by police for top security, among a multitude of other benefits.
The division spreads all over the place as another example of its effect is its extent to the workplace. The rich people have better jobs in business regardless of their level of education because it’s who they know not what they know and the poor work in factories or do not work at all.
In terms of schooling, everyone is allowed equal opportunity to schooling. However, again because of the amount of resources, only the rich kids can continue to learn in college so poor kids are stuck with high school level educations. The rich are college educated and the poor are high school educated, that is, if they stay in school in the first place. Because however they are on the streets, the poor have better skills rather than knowledge. Now recently, a change is staring to happen with more scholarships given out to poorer children.
However, this can only do so much. As there is a widespread division between the rich and poor, the amount of uneducated folk is widespread and the access that the poor have to a chance of uplifting their standard is small. The educational system although provided for all still is one that is founded on financial capability, hence still catering mostly to keep the higher standard of the rich, and keeping inaccessible to the poor.
In terms of politics, it is the same. It’s not what you know it’s who you know in Armenian politics. Even though a democratic voting system is in place, there still is too much corruption where the lower classes voice is not heard. The rich have money and money defines the power that they have, Due to the fact that they have money, they can steer the economy in a way that their opinions are more listened to and theirs are followed more. Plus, due to the fact that it is they who are more educated, they are able to use this to their advantage.
The point here is not only that they have more control. It is also the fact that due to their control, they can put hindrance to the country’s growth, as instead of allocating wealth and decision to the growth of the poor, the enlargement of the middle class, the lessening of the poor, their effort are maintained on keeping the rich with the rich. The economy is on a standstill and there is no progress.
The only exception to all these divisions would be that of religion. As believed, all men are equal in God’s eyes, and here there are no biases. Under the eyes of their God, all men, rich or poor, are alike and are his children.