The new Pew Foundation report on trends in “middle class” wealth and public opinion about class relations is worth a read.
Here, for instance, is the latest on how U.S. residents perceive the nation’s class structure:
Interestingly, though Pew lumps together upper and upper-middle in its own data reporting, the population isn’t far off on the definition of “upper class.” Only 2 percent place themselves there. Not unreasonable, though such a wide definition obscures the true heights of wealth and clout.
Conversely, you also see here what happens when “working class” has been banned from a capitalist culture, as it has been in market-totalitarian “America.” WAY too many people think they are some kind of “middle class.” The only reasonable definition of “middle class” is the group of people who have the capacity — via special training and credentials — to receive abnormally high wages and buy or bargain for small claims against corporate capitalisms’ various property-income streams. “Working class,” meanwhile, denotes all those who lack such protections and claims, and must therefore rely only on their raw ability to do labor to make ends meet (or not meet).
In a society where only 2/3 “own” their own housing, and in which only a quarter of all mortgage holders have greater than 50% of their mortgage paid off, the fact that 89% of us see ourselves as “middle class” members speaks volumes about the power of ideology and vested interests.