The terms “middle income” and “middle class” are often used interchangeably. This is especially true among economists who typically define the middle class in terms of income or consumption. But being middle class can connote more than income, be it a college education, white-collar work, economic security, owning a home, or having certain social and political values. Class could also be a state of mind, that is, it could be a matter of self-identification (Pew Research Center, 2008, 2012).”
OK, so even those who rely heavily on money as an indicator for who belongs to the middle class concede that there are other connotations to the concept.
Let’s consider the situation from a functionalist point of view. As in how the members of various social strata react to the day to day challenges of the normal life.
‘Day to day’ meaning not only ‘normal’ things – waking up and brushing your teeth – but also things that we wish will never happen, although all of us know they are ‘normal’ occurences. A car accident, a broken leg or even having three children in one go when you were praying for one.
Usually the wealthy take them in one stride, those belonging to the middle class manage to cope – sometimes welcoming some help from their friends, relatives or even insurance company, while the really poor almost certainly sink under the burden. But not always.
Sometimes even the wealthiests loose it when faced with adversities they were not accustomed with while some of the poorest find it in themselves to rise from the ashes.
Then how about setting a slightly different system of ‘classes’: the extremely resilient, the ‘middle class’ and the very fragile?
As a rule of thumb it’s true that a certain amount of wealth does miracles when some resilience is needed so, roughly, these two classifications look more or less the same, but, on a qualitative rather than quantitative level, we are speaking of two different things here.
When we are speaking of ‘money’ we are dealing mainly in ‘resources’ while when we’re speaking about resilience we have to take into account the attitude of the concerned individuals. It is true that the above mentioned attitude is, more often than not, heavily influenced by the affluence of the respective individuals but the function is hardly a direct one.
Based on these considerations – and on my personal experience of dealing with people, I’m going to propose the following synopsis.
The ‘resilient’ are those convinced they are able to cope, more or less on their own, with almost everything life can throw at them. Unfortunately some of them grow ‘spiritual callouses’, simply because they have never experienced any real hardships.
Or because they have over-compensated after dealing with those hardships, sometimes after succeeding to do so without receiving significant outside help.
The ‘fragile’ are those who, by lack of material resources, spiritual stamina or both, behave more like leafs driven by the wind than like masters of their own fate – as every human being should.
By now you’ve probably figured out that ‘my middle class’ is composed of individuals who have a certain degree of resilience but who, on the other hand, are perfectly aware that there are things on this world that they wouldn’t be able to face on their own.
In a sense, possession of money – or other resources, ‘encourages’ an individual to reveal his true nature.
If a person is naturally inclined to grow ‘callouses’ then being ‘insulated’ from the outside world by a thick wad of money will provide him with enough space to let those callouses grow but if his skin is ‘in the game’ then those callouses will be constantly shaven while interacting with his peers.
But if the stakes of the game are very meager – and the insulation provided to the players by their respective possessions is practically nonexistent, then instead of growing callouses most of the players will be rubbed raw during the intercourse. Mind you, neither the ‘stakes of the game’ nor the ‘individual possessions’ need to necessarily be of a strictly material nature.
In conclusion, the ‘callously resilient’ will tend to mind to their own – simply because their sensitivity towards the outside world is dampened by their callouses, the ‘fragile’ will tend to mind to their own raw wounds while those belonging to the ‘middle class’ will be the only ones really interested in maintaining the well being of the social organism. The one to which they ‘knowingly’ belong.
Because they are the only ones with enough time/energy/resources on their hands to consider the matter, the real interest to do so and the willingness to put some effort into this endeavour.