In this week’s news, our first article is abbreviated from one in Ifeng. The comments about how elite classes pass on their status to their children in a world that is supposed to be classless. Although the writer refers specifically to the USA, the same is true of almost every culture.
How does the elite class pass on its advantages?
Most Americans believe that hard work, rather than noble blood, is the key to success. Textbooks, newspapers, and novels are full of stories about individuals who end up in the upper class with their strong motivation and tenacity. These stories all express the same meaning: social and economic status is earned through hard work. It is not inherited from parents. The reason why upper-class people are in the upper-class is due to their wisdom, unremitting efforts and strong character. The lower-class people are in the lower class because they have shortcomings.
Although many people firmly believe that hard work will pay off, the US economy today is more unequal than most Western industrialized countries. Social mobility is lower. This is exactly the opposite of our Chinese creed. But how does this kind of replication take place in an era where admission depends on personal qualities and recruitment requires equal opportunities?
First – through education
Economic inequality that emerged long before a job search helps explain why elite kids can find top jobs. In the past, American elite replication took the form of parents handing over control of the company or family wealth to their adult children. Today, the transfer of economic privilege from one generation to the next takes a more indirect way, largely through the education system.
Higher education has become the most important tool of American social stratification and economic inequality. Harvard University conducted a background check on 2021 freshmen, including academic, life and family conditions. More than half of the freshmen at the school participated in the survey. The results were published in The Harvard Crimson school newspaper. Nearly 30% of the freshmen whose parents or relatives were former Harvard alumni; 46% come from super-rich families, far exceeding the 26.6% of last year.
Second – Economic advantage
Simply put, wealthy parents can invest more money in their children’s education, and they do. High-quality public schools are overly concentrated in areas with the highest housing prices and the most affluent residents. Thus, high-income families are better able to live in areas with high-quality schools.
Third – social relations
However, money is only part of the reason. Social capital—the size, status, and scope of the social network—is also very important. Parents’ social relationships can provide children with access to important opportunities, information and resources. In addition, students’ own social networks also help. Having friends and peers who want to go to college can shape students’ expectations for the future and stimulate their morale. These friends can also provide expert guidance on how to prepare for college applications.
Fourth – Cultural Resources
Finally, our knowledge, conceptual, interpretation and behaviour frameworks are also an important driving force for elite continuation. Such resources are ill-defined, so people often fail to realise that they are also mechanisms for creating inequality and confuse them with personal capabilities. Culture shapes people’s ambitions and world views. It affects how people are judged in daily interactions.
This class-based difference is reflected in many aspects, from the type of music you like to the sports activities you participate in. These models shape a person’s perception of what educational and professional opportunities are worth having, or what opportunities they may have.
For example, people with less wealthy families pay more attention to salary and stability when choosing a career. People from wealthy families pay more attention to abstract values such as satisfaction, fun, and personal expression. These economic differences in viewing the world and living in the world, lead individuals to the same social, educational, and professional trajectories as their parents.
One thing that has never changed is that the definition of merit in any period and place reflects the values and qualities of the elite.
On a different theme, the writer in Zaobao begs for fewer pandemic restrictions and for more space for people in Hong Kong, to help control the virus better.
What Hong Kong people need to fight the epidemic is not ban, but more space
With an influx of immigrants every year, Hong Kong is already a very crowded city with nowhere to go. Maintaining social distancing is an inherent physical difficulty. In this place, most live in cramped housing complexes, or even subdivided houses and other extremely harsh environments. The toilet and kitchen cannot be shared.
There are a considerable number of adults in Hong Kong who do not even have private rooms. In a family that is too crowded, in a limited space, they interfere with each other’s lives and often quarrel. The whole family looks forward to staying at home, and the pressure is greater than in other countries, because many people in Hong Kong even shut themselves in the room and isolate themselves from their families.
This is the special environment of Hong Kong. It is different from other countries. If the epidemic prevention measures do not take into account the living conditions and environment of Hong Kong people, it is different from many countries in the world. It is also different from those middle-class bureaucrats who have been privileged for a long time. Do they not live in castles in the air? However, almost all of Hong Kong’s anti-epidemic measures focus on bans, penalties, and reduction of citizens’ rights.
For example, some people are planning to reduce the MTR service on the grounds of fighting the epidemic. This is inexplicable. Do the people who think this think that the reduction in MTR services will result in a reduction in the number of passengers? Everyone takes the MTR because it is necessary to survive and maintain an income. Therefore, the grassroots cannot not work, and they need to take public transportation to work. The reduction in MTR services will only cause the same number of passengers to squeeze into fewer trains, which will increase the risk of disease transmission.
It is difficult to fight the epidemic because it is difficult to maintain social distancing: it is difficult to maintain social distancing because Hong Kong people simply do not have enough space. Therefore, the correct direction of the fight against the epidemic should be to create more space for the lives of Hong Kong people, and to create more space from the perspective of tolerance and tolerance.
For example, can small and medium-sized enterprises, tenants, and small landlords be granted a certain amount of relief for rent and loans so that they can temporarily suspend business? Give unconditional basic income or negative income tax during the epidemic holiday. Forego public housing rent during the epidemic prevention period. Reduce the need for grassroot people to go out to work. Increase the frequency of public transportation so that everyone does not have to be crowded.
Of course, the above thought may not be correct. What I want to emphasize is its central idea: Hong Kong people need more forgiveness than punishment; Hong Kong people need more space than bans; Hong Kong people need more than hard work. You dismantle the oppression of rent, loans, and livelihoods behind the citizens, so that they can maintain social distance as much as possible.
What Hong Kong people need to fight the epidemic is more space rather than increasing restrictions.