Hypocrisy As Key To Class

Two examples of how a key to achieving higher social class is to learn the right kinds of hypocrisy:

Working-class students are more likely to enter college with the notion that the purpose of higher education is learning in the classroom and invest their time and energies accordingly. … This type of academically focused script clashes with the “party” and social cultures of many US colleges. It isolates working and lower middle-class students from peer networks that can provide them with valuable information about how to navigate the social landscape of college as well as future job opportunities. The resulting feelings of isolation and alienation adversely affect these students’ grades, levels of happiness, and likelihood of graduation. … [This] also adversely affects their job prospects. (p.13 Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs)

“There is this automatic assumption in any legal environment that Asians will have a particular talent for bitter labor. … There was this weird self-selection where the Asians would migrate toward the most brutal part of the labor.” By contrast, the white lawyers he encountered had a knack for portraying themselves as above all that. “White people have this instinct that is really important: to give off the impression that they’re only going to do the really important work. You’re a quarterback. It’s a kind of arrogance that Asians are trained not to have.

Someone told me not long after I moved to New York that in order to succeed, you have to understand which rules you’re supposed to break. If you break the wrong rules, you’re finished. And so the easiest thing to do is follow all the rules. But then you consign yourself to a lower status. The real trick is understanding what rules are not meant for you.” This idea of a kind of rule-governed rule-breaking—where the rule book was unwritten but passed along in an innate cultural sense—is perhaps the best explanation I have heard of how the Bamboo Ceiling functions in practice. (more)

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  • Dave Lindbergh

    classes >>> clashes

    In my experience this is correct, and it’s why at my company we prefer to hire people with working-class backgrounds. (I think that’s still legal.)

    • Ol_Opposable_Thumbs

      Is your company hiring? 🙂

      • Dave Lindbergh

        Yes. PM me. No promises.

  • arch1

    thew -> the?

    I find this plausible but incomplete. It also seems that number, selection and strength of the rules which are ‘meant for you’ can vary with your class, ethnic, or other groupings as perceived by the official (and defacto unofficial) rule-enforcers.

    • xyz

      Further, I rather suspect that the author of the piece understood that full well, and was rather disingenuously trying to avoid copping to the most obvious reason for the “ceiling”.

      Of course it’s “clever” in that it sort-of acknowledges the source of the discrimination but still makes it sound like the targets are primarily somehow victims of some sort of subtle deficiency in their upbringing, and if they’d only conformed to the ‘superior’ culture better they’d have no issues. IIRC the term of art for this sort of tack is “crackpot realism”.

  • lump1

    I kept thinking that the same sort of dynamics apply to women, except more so. When they show up in a “man’s world” field, they tend to accept the hard work / little glory tasks that demonstrate their commitment and competence. But when picking the quarterback, the team will favor the guy – typically a guy – who passed up the important drudgery to take on the glory-seeking work.

    But with women and Asians both: Let’s not pretend that it’s simply about knowing which rules to break. There just are different rules for different groups, at least prima facie.

  • Joseph Hertzlinger

    If upper-class students at a mid-rank school tend to party and lower-class students at the same school study, that means the upper-class students are downwardly mobile (otherwise they would be at a prestige school) and the lower-class students are upwardly mobile (otherwise they would not be in college).

  • Rob Miles

    This is something I’ve noticed in myself before, you don’t realise you have it until you’re talking to someone who doesn’t.
    Like when a friend was having some administrative problem with the university or whatever, some admin process had stalled/failed, some memo got lost, they couldn’t get what they want/need. They were looking in vain for some way to fix it from within the system, find the right form to fill out or whatever, but the system had broken, and had no mechanism for recovering from this kind of failure. Such situations aren’t that rare.
    It took a huge amount of persuasion to convince my friend that “call the head of the relevant sub-department and explain what happened” was an available strategy at all. In fact it solved the issue very quickly with no hard feelings. But “you’re not supposed to just call important people when you’re an undergraduate”. I somehow knew that it would be fine, and my friend didn’t.