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Cultural Myths: Gregory Mantsios' 'Class in America' and 'Rereading America'

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Words: 1046 |

Pages: 2|

6 min read

Published: Apr 8, 2022

Words: 1046|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Apr 8, 2022

Table of contents

  1. Wealth Inequality as Influential Cultural Myths
  2. Gender and Racial Discrimination - as Another Form of Oppression
  3. Conclusion

Some Americans perceive success differently than how others believe success to be. For some, success is having higher education, getting a high paying job, and being able to take a relaxing vacation. For others, they believe success to being just financially stable enough to afford clothing, housing, food, and healthcare. Americans often ignore the cultural myths, which are beliefs that influence the ideas they think, value, and believe, but they can’t escape the impact they have on society. The power of cultural myths may affect Americans’ beliefs of education, jobs, and gender roles by the expectations of a culture. In Gary Colombo’s work, Rereading America, the author identifies the idea of how cultural myths play a role in the American Dream, the belief that all Americans have an equal opportunity to reach success and wealth through hard work. Colombo’s idea of cultural myths provides the foundation of success in America. Additionally, included in Rereading America is an essay written by Gregory Mantsios titled “Class in America”, in which he discusses the American class divide between upper, middle, and lower classes. Through Mantsios’s research, he captures the true meaning of what the impact of cultural myths have on society and class standings. The flaws of cultural myths are that they give false expectations of the American Dream. However, they are part of the American culture that we can’t ignore.

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Wealth Inequality as Influential Cultural Myths

Poverty, the lack of basic needs that are needed to be financially, emotionally, and physically stable, can affect a person’s overall well-being. Lower class standing can have a negative impact on one’s means to meet their fundamental needs, such as food, shelter, clothing, health care, education, and safety. In Mantsios’s work, he states, “In all areas of health, poor people do not share the same life chances as those in the social class above them,” (358). Proper healthcare is not as accessible for lower-class Americans, leading to poor health, lower life expectancy rates, and lower standards of living. The cultural myth that class doesn’t matter in the U.S. is a disadvantage for the lower-class. If the nation treated everyone as equal, then everyone would have an equal opportunity to access treatment for health. Cultural myths impact all levels of class in America. Affordable housing can be challenging to find for low-income households. Mentioning the basic necessities, Mantsios comments, “The lower a person’s class standing is, the more difficult it is to secure housing,” (359). Low-income American families are homeless due to the lack of affordable housing. Living in homelessness can contribute to diseases/illnesses and a lack of food and clean water. Without proper hygiene, low-income Americans below the poverty line can experience illness and a need of health care treatment. The ability to receive proper health care services and living conditions separates the classes and economic statuses of American citizens.

The opportunities that differentiate the wealthy and the poor affect the economy of the United States in a staggering manner. The wealthy have access to more opportunities such as higher education, access to technology, and healthcare, leaving the poor at a distinct disadvantage for success. With the unequal distribution of opportunities, an increase in class mobility, the movement of an individual to go from one social class to another, is tough to achieve. In Mantsios’s essay, he states, “Inheritance laws provide built-in privileges to the offspring of the wealthy and add to the likelihood of their economic success while handicapping the chances for everyone else,” (361). Consequently, the opportunities afforded to the wealthy have caused the nation to be divided. The cultural myth that America is a nation of upward mobility is flawed. Lower-class families are placed into a difficult position to reach class mobility, due to the limited privilages available. Along with the nation’s privileged upper-class, the nation’s distribution of income is becoming a social-economical issue as well. As quoted in Mantsios’s writing, “the top 1 percent of U.S. households took two-thirds of the nation’s income gains,” (361). The wealth inequality leaves the other ninety-nine percent of the U.S. households at a disadvantage when it comes to their mobility in society. The upper-class have a larger income, which gives them a greater opportunity to reach success. It has become a challenge to increase class mobility when the wealthy are receiving the majority of the nation’s wealth.

Gender and Racial Discrimination - as Another Form of Oppression

Women and members of a minority group often face discrimination that influences their class standing. Women are often placed in a position of stereotyping and sexual harassment, which affects their daily encounters. Mantsios defines the disadvantages women face as, “denied opportunities and privileged that men have,” (364). Men have a greater chance of landing a job over a woman because society has limited women based upon their gender. The cultural myth that everyone has an equal chance to succeed is inaccurate. In today’s society, women are at a greater risk of being poor and part of the lower class, because society views women’s roles less preferable then men’s roles. In addition, sexism is a part of social bias. Mantsios comments, “a wealthy black man faces racial oppression, is subjected to racial slurs, and is denied opportunities because of his color,” (364). Individuals that are part of a minority group are judged differently than non-minorities because of their skin color. Discrimination affects the American Dream, because it decreases one’s life fulfillment, giving them discouragement towards what they can achieve. Minority females experience social and professional discrimination that can lead to double and triple jeopardy. With society discriminating against gender and racial appearance, it limits the opportunities that are available to women and members of minority races.

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Conclusion

The disadvantages that idealized cultural expectations have on Americans include living in poverty, unequal opportunities, and gender and racial discrimination. The American Dream is an unrealistic belief that is not accessible to all levels of class. Gary Colombo and Gregory Mantsios’s research supports the fact that the lower class is at the distinct disadvantage of receiving all of their basic needs, securing a household, having proper health care services, and accessing higher education. Discrimination among gender and racial roles can hold back a person’s position in society. In conclusion, cultural myths shape American culture not only for the good but also for the worse.

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Cite this Essay

Cultural Myths: Gregory Mantsios’ ‘Class in America’ and ‘Rereading America’. (2022, April 08). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 15, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/cultural-myths-gregory-mantsios-class-in-america-and-rereading-america/
“Cultural Myths: Gregory Mantsios’ ‘Class in America’ and ‘Rereading America’.” GradesFixer, 08 Apr. 2022, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/cultural-myths-gregory-mantsios-class-in-america-and-rereading-america/
Cultural Myths: Gregory Mantsios’ ‘Class in America’ and ‘Rereading America’. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/cultural-myths-gregory-mantsios-class-in-america-and-rereading-america/> [Accessed 15 Apr. 2024].
Cultural Myths: Gregory Mantsios’ ‘Class in America’ and ‘Rereading America’ [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Apr 08 [cited 2024 Apr 15]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/cultural-myths-gregory-mantsios-class-in-america-and-rereading-america/
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