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Wealthy, successful people from privileged backgrounds often misrepresent their origins as working-class in order to tell a ‘rags to riches’ story resulting from hard work and perseverance, rather than social position and intergenerational wealth.

Wealthy, successful people from privileged backgrounds often misrepresent their origins as working-class in order to tell a ‘rags to riches’ story resulting from hard work and perseverance, rather than social position and intergenerational wealth.

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Harry-le-Roy

While not surprising, this is an interesting result when compared with resume studies that find that applicants are less likely to be contacted for an interview, if their resume has indicators of a working class upbringing. For example, [Class Advantage, Commitment Penalty: The Gendered Effect of Social Class Signals in an Elite Labor Market](https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0003122416668154)


hyphan_1995

What are the specific signals? I'm just seeing the abstract edit: https://hbr.org/2016/12/research-how-subtle-class-cues-can-backfire-on-your-resume Looks like a synopsis of the journal article


TurkeySlurpee666

Just from personal experience, a lack of volunteer work. It’s a lot easier to volunteer places when you don’t need to go wash dishes in a restaurant after school. Sure, it’s not impossible, but when you’re focused on having to provide for yourself as a youngster, volunteer work isn’t a top priority.


Suibian_ni

I thought the whole point of requiring internships and volunteering was to weed out poor applicants and to make sure that no one who understands poverty ends up in charge of a non-profit.


Entire-Tonight-8927

I moved to NYC out of school and looked at the openings of a nonprofit and thought, "one year non-paid internship? Good luck finding someone to fill that". Then I learned what a trust fund is...


Suibian_ni

Exactly. And the trust fund kid will use that experience to prove what a fine upstanding citizen they are in every job interview from now on, which gives them an edge over the poor student who had to wash dishes to survive.


Flight_Schooled

I was a pre-optometry student for a year in college. One of the requirements for the degree was over 100 hours of shadowing approved Optometrists in our city, which had to be done in a ≈5 month period due to how the degree was structured. Not a single one was within reasonable walking distance of campus and the public transport is virtually nonexistent. So right off the bat if you don’t have a car, you’re toast. Not to mention the fact that even if you do find some way of transporting yourself, the offices were only open for certain hours in the day, usually the hours where low-income students are in class or working, and much less frequently on weekends. Plus, 20 or so hours a month doesn’t sound too bad - unless you’re a student in a rigorous degree like PRE-OPTOMETRY who also happens to be low-income and working full-time or even more because you aren’t getting support from your parents/guardians and you have to eat and pay rent just like everyone else. The fact that they were a requirement for all students with no help regardless of situation straight-up radicalized me. I’ve never forgotten how furious I was as I realized just how effectively something that small can make an entire degree inaccessible to students who were guilty of nothing but not coming from a more privileged background. It’s disgusting.


QuestioningEspecialy

Heard from someone studying to be a nutritionist that they have to get an intrrnship to either graduate or get a job. The problen was that the internships require you to have no other employment at the time and only the top students actually got paid. Right off the bat, I told him that entire field must be *filled* with middle- and upper-class folk 'caude nobody else can afford to "pull themselves" up there. My field was much better, but still a challenge. An internship was required, but due to the college's location you're gonna be living in or driving to another city for thr internship. Out of state/country student? Too bad, figure it out. No car? Too bad, buy a hookdie and don't embarrass yourself. For us, atleast, therr was an alternative if you got to your last year without one. You could 1) work at a certain local business doing something that'll be a bit helpful for your career or 2) get the internship locked down for post-graduation.


InfiNorth

As a student teacher, we were prohibited (yes prohibited) from applying for Co-Op work terms and were instead required to do unpaid practica. I was unable to include my time doing educational interpretation for Canada's National Park system towards my degree in education. These practica were never in schools that were chosen for their convenience to the student (or even their interest area). I, who own a car, was given a school literally two hundred metres from my front door. My friend, who has never owned a car in their life, was given a school that had no transit service early enough to get them there and even if it did, it would have take over two hours to get there on the bus. In short, to become a teacher, you go through one of the few legal unpaid internships in Canada and have to own a car to do so. This is the same profession that pays you for 8:30-2:45 but requires you to be there from 7:30-3:45, and where you are given a couple of hundred bucks for a year's worth of educational materials for a class of twenty-five. *If you have a contract.* Okay, maybe teaching isn't just slanted towards the rich, I think it's just horrible for anyone.


asprlhtblu

Canadian teachers get underpaid too? Damn... I thought it was only the united states that didn’t value educating average folks


InfiNorth

In BC I netted just under $24k last year (equivalent of about $18kUSD). Our salary grid has most of the population thinking we're rolling in the dough with our $50kCAD salaries but the reality is that most teachers are lucky if they work two days a week thanks to overhiring and bad management. Last year I had a contract (I don't have one this year) that was literally five hours a week, called a 0.16FTE. Didn't even pay my rent.


Dspsblyuth

Wouldn’t want someone there that takes the “non-profit” part literally


Captain_8lanet

Non-profits do love their profits


eurekaworks

Many non-profits - especially the ones named after families - are combo tax shelters and inter generational wealth transfer / jobs programs for less capable offspring.


MrSomnix

Non-profits are required to spend their surplus each year(profit) on things that the organization was founded to accomplish. The law states that it can't be paid out as a dividend to anyone working for the non-profit. My school was a non-profit. The President's salary? $1,000,000. That's not even a joke. Because his salary is literally a million dollars it doesn't count as a "dividend" and that's how these organizations keep the non-profit status while still getting rich.


SuperShecret

Jumping in to remind everyone that the National Football League \*was\* a non-profit. (the teams are for-profit, and the league does do a lot of charity, but also.... them billions) ​ edit: I haven't been paying attention the past five years apparently


brokkoly

Part of that was that they redistribute money from the teams back to the rest of the teams. In order for that not to get taxed twice, they need to be a non profit. Also they are no longer a non profit as of 2015


steaming_scree

I have worked with a few non profits as a contractor and my ex was a manager in a large, well known global non-profit. These places are full of managers making six figures and above, all patting each other on the back about how they would make a lot more in the corporate sector while they enjoy a comparatively relaxed pace and easy KPIs. They are almost without exception the children of the upper middle class. I used to joke that they were places for rich women to spend their time while their husbands made a killing in business. I would love to know how some of these places justify spending millions on wages to their top-heavy management structures while a fraction of that money would make a huge difference spent on programs. Bonus story: As a global non-profit, they tended to have a lot of white people in comfortable air conditioned offices in the developed world managing projects that were running on a shoestring in less developed countries. About ten years ago it became a topic of discussion that actually these programs should be managed by people who had more connection to the programs, perhaps people of colour in less developed countries, that way the programs would be more effective, cheaper to run and there would be additional benefit to the local economy there. There were IIRC some studies to this effect, plenty of reports were written and circulated and people in the developed world were really championing the idea.... Well, ten years later very little has changed. The idea bubbled away and probably still does but nobody ever seriously considered giving away their cushy jobs.


MuhLaws

This is something that really needs to be shouted from the rooftops. I've encountered it twice in my life. Its super popular with athletes as a way to distribute money to family members in a tax-advantaged way. Cousin Cleetus is the Deputy Director of the (ABC) Family Foundation, along with Aunt Reba and the rest of the clan who remember back when their NFL Lineman cousin was just a wee boy. He gets to "donate" $1.2mm a year of his salary to offset taxes, they get salaries from that, via the foundation. The catch, obviously, is that people who purport to do good works are basically immune from criticism, no matter how valid. Even if their 'good works' are nothing more than a scam but yeah. In college, dated a gal who worked for her 'dads foundation' and had no discernable skills to speak of, and another dude who played video games all day because his mom was cousins with a dude who played in the NFL for over a decade and they both had jobs at 'the foundation'.


bookadookchook

Yeah, charities essentially steal tax money (via deductions) which could be put to better use.


detroit_dickdawes

My job, which is as a bakery, is part of a large corporation incorporated as a non-profit. They own all the fishing vessels that supply sushi fish in the USA. They process 90% of the USA’s sushi fish, as well as being its main distributor. They have sushi restaurants in almost every major metropolitan area, including Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, etc. Want to know how they became that large? They were founded by the Moonies, who required their workers tithe almost the entirety of their paycheck. Luckily, I got in after that part. So, yeah, the people responsible for overfishing tuna to near extinction pay almost no taxes in the United States because they are, technically, a religious organization. And most of their capital was made through essentially slave labor (but I bet their bosses use my boss’ favorite line “If you don’t like it, then quit!”). All this while having the gall to claim we make too much money ($15/hr).


Dspsblyuth

It’s called the “operating budget”


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I did activist work with "progressive" nonprofits when I was 18-20 and I quickly realized that the only way to get paid doing what you like in DC was to have wealthy parents. Anyone with any chance of a paid position will have worked for free for years and had an expensive education and likely connections to political elites.


jordanreiter

Oh that is bleak but probably true.


Dekar173

Some very mediocre people with far too much time and money have been trying to figure out ways to maintain the status quo for a **very long time.**


AadeeMoien

No it's 100% true. That's why those internships are unpaid in the first place.


matcha0123

Unpaid internships should be illegal


blindeey

They are\* or can be in a lot of cases. If it's the stereotypical "Get me coffee and papers/other gopher tasks" sorta deal. It has to enrich the internee (IE: Actually giving them skills and such.) and not just the company/organization. This is, of course, distinct from a volunteering which is you giving up your time/skills for free to an organization/thing for their enrichment by choice.


PhuckNazis

I don't allow volunteers or internships. We have people who work and get paid. Otherwise, that's a form of slavery and I won't allow it. Never have. Never will. We hire poor people as well, because a work ethic knows no socioeconomic boundaries.


Flussiges

Expensive childhood hobbies. Chances are that the kid who played hockey, golfed, skied, rode horses, etc did not grow up poor.


PerilousAll

Someone gave me a ticket to a rich lady product show, and I went out of curiosity. I tried on a belt that had to be tied and was having a little trouble with it. One of the ladies explained that I had to tie a hitch knot "like you did with your pony when you were a little girl." She had to tie it for me.


Not_a_jmod

Goddamn my first instinct was to ask "well what if you didn't grow your hair out as a child?" before realizing what kind of pony they were referring to


glasgow_polskov

I have groups of friends who grew up skiing, kayaking, high level competition, etc and laugh when I haven't really done any of these things or learned (poorly!) as an adult. To them it's like a fault in your person akin to laziness.


banban5678

My ex and their friend group were like this. Hanging out with them was like crossing over into Snob City.


tinydancer_inurhand

Got lots of stares when I said I’d never been skiing when I started working in management consulting. I’m sorry that hobby easily runs in the thousands to learn. I was lucky my parents were able to afford gymnastics (which is already expensive) Skiing on top of that? Hell no


Rayotap

As someone who grew up Figure Skating competitively. Participating in a sport that's geared towards the wealthy really distorts what you view as normal. Nearly all of my friends who I grew up skating with attended the most elite prepatory schools around, and ended up at Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Pomona, Bowdoin, Georgetown, etc. They were picked up from practice in Range Rovers, Mercedes, and every other luxury car brand. Point is, I felt super inadequate once I realized that getting into an Ivy League school wasn't easy just because all of my friends did. They all had the prep school educations, volunteer work, multilingualism, and activities that come with being from a certain socioeconomic class. I was really a 10 year old thinking that I could 100% get into Harvard easily because I had at least 3 girls with whom I shared a coach with that got in.


Alias11_

Yep. This list of activities (maybe except for hockey) is also a list that continues your career growth after being hired. If you can't golf you won't be invited to the executive outings to the golf course.


Rayotap

Don't forget Squash! Execs love squash!


PassingTimeAtWork

Mitt Romney’s wife gave an example of how after college they were forced sell stock (for like 1 mil) to have any income at all. So the Romney’s know struggle.


jazzwhiz

"I had to make one phone call to get access to as much money as most Americans see in their life times"


intensely_human

" ... well, I didn't make the phone call *myself* but you get the idea"


PerfectZeong

Wow I hope those kids did ok.


myspaceshipisboken

Having no caviar, they tragically starved to death.


Chateaudelait

She had to co -own her Olympic Show Jumping mare Rafalca with 4 other people instead of just by herself. Imagine having to share!


DoItYourSelf2

Also it's amazing how many super rich actually made significant monies off the government, the same government which they claim to despise. Romney was part of a group which held Delco (electronics division of GM) hostage when the government was bailing out GM so they could get a huge payout. Romney was not the biggest player, he "only" made 15 mil on the deal. This is just one example of why I don't think the taxpayers got all of their money back from TARP and a boatload of taxpayer money went into deep pockets in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Amazing how smart these guys are, pay virtually no taxes and fleece the taxpayers to boot.


Aeolun

Yeah, that sounds like a good problem to have.


Lard_of_Dorkness

They accepted government poverty subsidies during that period as well.


black_rose_

Going to an expensive college vs a cheap college/university. My coworker and I have talked about how this is a huge form of classism in hiring and grad school interviews too.


elinordash

A long time ago there was a Am I The Asshole post from a parent who convinced their kid to go to state school instead of the overpriced private school they got into. Tons of people praised the poster and talked about how great community colleges are. Turns out the kid turned down Wharton. OP (and a lot of people posting) didn't understand that there are a bunch of jobs (particularly in investment banking and consulting) that *only* recruit from a very small handful of elite schools.


O2XXX

There is something to say price doesn’t guarantee success. There are plenty of crappy schools that cost 50k+ a year and you’ll end up with a subpar education and a mountain of debt. I would say go to a good state school over that. That being said, you are 100% that if it’s a top 25 school it’s usually worth the price when it comes from all the additional perks. Look at the best cost colleges on US News and it’s very similar to the top 25 because you get a great education and tons of connection and opportunities. Their alumni networks will basically dump you into a job if you can’t find one on your own just too keep up their own numbers.


misguidedsadist1

Some schools waive tuition if your family is below a certain income threshold. It provides more opportunity to those in poverty but, as the middle class shrinks and standard of living plummets, it leaves out a lot of people whose parents make "too much" money but don't have the material benefits that once came with such an income.


BonoboSaysSorry

I was that kid. I am from a decent middle class family. I even had a sorority sister whose mom was a trophy fiance putting off marrying until graduation so her daughter could get government grants instead of her fiance paying, though he was supporting them. Sometimes it felt like I was being punished for not coming from a broken home. One of my parents lost their job in the crash as I entered college. My rich friends got money from their parents. My poor friends got money from the government. I got money from working as a waitress.


serpentjaguar

Absolutely, but as any anthropologist or sociologist will tell you, at the upper echelons of society, undergrad is less about education *per se,* than it is about pedigree and forming connections.


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Armaced

Going to an expensive school usually means making life-long friendships with wealthy, privileged people. Many people meet their future spouse at college, so an expensive school might just move a person into a rich family, if they somehow weren’t already rich. Regardless of the quality of education, that is a huge advantage.


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Wriothesley

Me too. They can tell what class you are in. If you can't afford to summer with them wherever, they certainly aren't going to be your friend.


stardorsdash

Unless you’re extremely beautiful or handsome, or very athletic. If you have some thing that they desire to feel a part of, they will include you in their world


AdministrativeShip2

This is my biggest class indicator. (UK) They're always going to visit their families place in the lake district. Or Grandmamas cottage in Scotland. Or their friends conveniently have a chalet in France/Switzerland (never Spain as that's where poor people go) When you realise these places are huge, and the only obligation is to return a stay at your own families place, you begin to see how it filters out poor people over time. You'll get invited once, treated perfectly well and never go to the same groups thing again.


samhouse09

Well, it's kind of like that. I went to a very expensive private school that happens to also give out a lot of scholarships to good students. I was one of the scholarship kids there. People were abundantly aware of what social standing people were, especially the rich women, who were very careful to not date below their "class". As a lowly middle class person, my chances with the really rich girls was pretty low as far as a serious relationship went.


vinoa

Just gotta find the ones looking to get back at daddy for getting them the wrong color car.


CommonModeReject

> What are the specific signals? Not specific to the article, but I've had a boss who only hired people with 'unpaid internships' on their resume because it meant they 'came from money'.


VanillaLifestyle

On the upside, I've worked with a number of hiring managers who won't hire people with unpaid internship work (or at least ignore or negatively weight it when comparing experience across candidates).


DMPark

This. I don't know what it's like in America but I am in East Asia, and I avoided hiring rich kids. They always quit within the first few weeks because most of them have never actually worked like a grunt on an a level playing field a day in their lives, and they always have the alternatives of not working or going to work for a family business. We prefer kids who don't come from privilege. When I used to hire, I made sure to pick out for interview anyone who started college past the age of 20, regardless of whether it was prestigious or community college. That is someone who is mature enough to have wanted an education and finished it on their own motivation. That is someone with a vision and grit.


Korkack

This makes me feel better about being that kid.


cruxclaire

> Attorneys viewed higher-class candidates of either gender as being better fits with the culture and clientele of large law firms; lower-class candidates were seen as misfits and rejected. In fact, some attorneys even steered the lower-class candidates to less prestigious and lucrative sectors of legal practice, such as government and nonprofit roles, positions that tend to be more socioeconomically diverse than jobs at top law firms. > But even though higher-class women were seen as just as good “fits” as higher-class men, attorneys declined to interview these women because they believed they were the least committed of any group (including lower-class women) to working a demanding job. Our survey participants, as well as an additional 20 attorneys we interviewed, described higher-class women as “flight risks,” who might desert the firm for less time-intensive areas of legal practice or might even leave paid employment entirely. Ah yes, the literal definition of an “old boys club.” (For those who didn’t read the article, the upper class signaled man in the study got more interviews than all the other groups, i.e lower class men and women and upper class women, combined.)


total_looser

name, geography, education, job history


ludololl

So... Almost the entire resume?


total_looser

Exaggerated for effect but consider these recent grad candidates: - Buckley Morgan, Beverly Hills, USC, interned at CAA - Rick Davis, Dallas, ASU, interned at GeeWhiz Regional Brokerage - Eric Munoz, New Jersey, SUNY Buffalo, interned at small town local radio station —— It's not always so cut and dry, but in the aggregate, it really does separate out at these levels with _just this info_ And for the scanners with even some training/experience, far more subtle/mixed signals still emit this clearly at a high confidence interval


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as_one_does

It's clear cut more often than not. Biggest signal I've seen is putting your high school on your resume. In person it's almost painfully obvious to tell who came from money.


secretary_g

Noticed this on dating apps too. I was curious why someone listed their HS so I looked it up. Turns out it's an elite east coast prep school I'd never heard of. The guy went to school with JFK's grandson.


Rayotap

Phillips-Andover, Groton, or Hotchkiss?


secretary_g

Close, Phillips Exeter


droopydingdong

Man the Kennedys have got some weird names


tweakydragon

One thing I have noticed is the different career trajectories of Veterans. The tracks Officers and Enlisted take can be pretty stark even with the same amount of time in service and degrees attained. Officers seem to have the management and executive paths doors opened from the start of their post service careers, even for lower ranking officers (O-2 or O3). However enlisted veterans seem to not have the same level of access to these opportunities even if they became NCOs (E-5 thru E-7). Tying into peoples backgrounds, I have noticed that most officers go right into college and then into the service. Which may give an indication of a more stable or upper income upbringing. However enlisted folks join the military in order to pay for college. Which may well be taken as an indication that they lacked the resources or support structures growing up. I wonder if there is any other studies or research into this specifically.


Valfourin

I don’t know the exact names of ranks and such, but my dad entered the airforce 27 years ago as a regular enlisted, about 22 years in he eventually got offered an officer promotion, which requires a university degree, fortunately the airforce paid for his degree. Anyway, he did the degree, got the promotion, worked as an officer for 3 years and now quit to work in the civilian sector (related to his military training). The difference between officer and general enlist was huge even for him when he’d been In the forces longer than most active members had been alive. I don’t really know how that ties in with your comment but it popped into my head when I read it. Fwiw, he’s on the old Australian defence force pension so he gets something like 70% of the average of his last 3 years pay until he dies now, thanks for the officer promotion after all the blood and sweat I guess haha. Edit: I remembered, he entered general enlist from an extremely broken home with lots of abuse and lots of food stamps, despite working his absolute arse off he was still treated worse than a 20 year old officer


O2XXX

I did something similar in the US Army (after only 4 years enlisted through) and my experience was similar in the difference between the two. I’m still in (planning on retiring) but the level of opportunities afforded to me have been beyond what I could have assumed when I first joined. I’m super lucky I was afford the opportunity in the first place because I most likely would have not have gotten to where I am now given my background.


PhD_V

Yes… very different paths in conjunction with traditional military backgrounds and education. Officers are required to have at least a Bachelor’s (unless in the extremely rare “field commission” scenario, I suppose), so they’re typically on that “management path” from the get go. I got to see this play out in real time, as I am a SNCO (E8… E9 this year) with multiple post-graduate degrees, and my wife commissioned halfway through her career and is now an O6. The change in responsibility of her career path was staggering - and, as you alluded to, her post-military prospects immediately jump from mid-level manager to Senior Manager/Director/VP, etc.


Harry-le-Roy

I've definitely seen anecdotal evidence of this, even to the point that candidates having been enlisted essentially invalidated later elite qualifications (an MBA from Tuck, for instance). Given that there are demographic differences among officers and enlisted persons in the US military, there may be an assumed race indicator that's triggering a bias, in addition to social class bias.


TheOneTrueTrench

I suspect that's the case as well, the anecdotal evidence available to me suggests much the same thing. But of course, there's never a functional way to control for bias with anecdotes, that's why the plural of "anecdote" isn't "data".


obvilious

Is this surprising at all? From my experience the enlisted officers are typically very tactical in their approaches to problems while more senior officers tend for a strategic approach. Even the very senior NCOs I’ve worked with tend not to focus on strategy as much as a shorter term “get things done” attitude.


TheRightMethod

Coming from a hospitality background from year's ago, the phenomena is prevalent in Hospitality as well as office and Dev roles. From the hospitality route, as a chef the career path was obvious for BoH, dishwasher, cook, Jr.sous, Sous, Chef and that's it. One or two sous positions is normal and with one chef position, the ''top' is a very small group of people. Even at that role, being a Chef is the end of the line and in larger institutions the corporate chefs have in my experience been outside hires every time. FoH had far more opportunities, host to server to bar to any number of office positions or management positions which all open the door for corporate positions or head office positions. Apparently carrying plates doesn't mean you can't use a computer or transfer to an accounting role but for a cook to transfer into one of those roles is... It just doesn't happen. I had a Sous chef who had 8 years with the company and had a finance degree and did his MBA, only after he quit and directly applied for a position did he get an interview (he left the company altogether eventually) but trying to get him a transfer or sponsorship? He knew how to butcher and work the line, definitely not 'office material'. Heck, even the second in command of the restaurant he made less than the bar manager who was a host two years before that... Heck, even most board meetings had the chef as the only representative at the table from BoH yet 8 people were part of the meetings. IT had similar issues. Started in support, you're often pigeonholed into that role and growth or education are often overlooked and you need to leave your current company to even be considered. I've seen 3 year support agents with great records get denied transfers into other roles or for education programs because they were only 'support' but the company would still outside hire others into Jr dev roles despite having a support background at another company. Heck, even a friend recently after 15 years in the Public Sector and multiple promotions had to defend herself when interviewing for a new role because she was hired through a student program and this role is a senior position. I get looking at her current role and weighing that jump to the position she's applying for, but to bring up what level she started at completely caught her off guard. It's an unfortunate mindset people have and it's why so many companies lose employees and why people are taught to switch companies if they want growth. We had system setup where employees are pigeonholed at their point of origin.


Kyrias

I've had to assist with hiring in academia before and the hiring committee looked down on anyone who had a job before/during university that was not academic in nature. They always ended up hiring people with little to no work experience, even if they had more academic experience with non-related work experience as well.


dak4f2

Wouldn't want a well rounded candidate, would we? This is why my professors-as-academic advisors were useless.


Kyrias

I don't even think they were aware of their bias. They just wanted to hire people who were like themselves.


Aeolun

It wouldn’t do to suddenly find out that you’ve hired someone with a much wider range of experience than your own. You’d torpedo your own chances.


lonewolf210

But people with this kind of wealth aren't getting contacted by blind resume submittal they are doing it through networking so are the two really opposed to each other?


Harry-le-Roy

They're at odds in that, as in so many things, there's one narrative for who a person wants to be, and a different one for who a person wants to associate with.


[deleted]

Super interesting thanks for the share


pdwp90

People tend to judge their wealth relative to those around them, and they also tend to overestimate others wealth. That being said, if you look at a [visualization](https://www.quiverquant.com/sources/ceocompensation) of the highest paid CEOs, people who came from true poverty are pretty few and far between.


tangledwire

As someone once said- “I didn’t know I was poor until I moved out of my neighborhood.”


turkishguy

Yep. Didn’t realize I grew up poor until well into my 20s. At some point in my mid-20s I paid more in income taxes than my parents’ combined income.


bankrobba

Yep. I grew up firmly middle class, lived in the suburbs, exactly like the Brady Bunch house. But because my parents didn't lavish us with toys and clothes, I always thought I was poor **when compared to my friends.** And I still think I grew up poor despite never going hungry, always having resources to do homework, etc. Rewiring yourself is hard.


CRM_BKK

When I was growing up I was known as the rich kid, because we moved out of a council house into a mortgaged home. Relative wealth is weird


_code_name_dutchess

That’s relatable. I grew up and people called me the rich kid. It was always confusing to me because my father worked for people much wealthier than us. We would get invited to barbecues at his colleagues houses and they were always nicer than ours. It always felt like we were normal and the people above us were rich. Looking back I can see that I grew up extremely privileged. It was just hard to see at the time.


almightySapling

Now I wonder how one of my friends from middle school felt that we all called him The Rich Kid because he lived in a nice house in a gated community and his parents were married while most of us were living in 2-bedroom apartments with our mom and her most recent or soon-to-be baby daddy.


Sleazyridr

One of my daughters friends came over one day and said that we were rich because we had food in the fridge.


macphile

Kind of unrelated to anything, but my mother told me that one of the indicators of wealth in her circle was the butter they bought--like, Lurpak vs...something else. She had a friend who was like the "rich" friend (although I'm sure only by a small margin) because her parents bought the "good" butter. Historically, my family was entirely working class until WWII. Both of my grandfathers got good government jobs after the war, and while they were never *rich* in any sense I'd perceive of it, they were comfortable.


griboflavin

I grew up in a 1300 foot raised ranch in Vermont. I once had my friend from the trailer park over and they thought we were rich and our house was huge. Which, it was compared to where they lived. My family certainly struggled financially at times, but I never noticed.


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My partner thought her family was on the lower middle-class end of the spectrum because all her friends were super rich, while her parents were doctors. My brother thought we were middle class because we weren't destitute, while our dad was unemployed and our mother worked in a factory. Some of the stories you read on reddit sound way worse than my upbringing, but yeah, it was quite a shock going to the working-class kids' houses and finding out they had a lot more money than us.


laptop3ds

After reading all these comments, I'm seeing something here. People's self-perspectives are distorted based on their desire to be better than they actually are. We have the rich people pretending they came from a working-class background, and that their success was all from hard work, and not luck. Then there are the poorer people, telling themselves they have it good when they do not.


RAshomon999

For Americans, most everyone, including the poor and rich, describe themselves as middle class. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/30/70-percent-of-americans-consider-themselves-middle-class-but-only-50-percent-are.html


beeinbris

Working class background here, I thought I was really fortunate and that it was normal that dad worked 2 jobs, mum worked full time from home while raising 3 kids, and that I had to stop doing gymnastics because the fees were too expensive. I still had a beat up old trampoline to practice my flips on so I was still lucky. I knew there were richer people out there but I really had no idea.


Funtycuck

I had this growing up where I assumed that we were pretty normal because all my friend's families were rich too. Until I was like 10 and my dad started correcting these beliefs more I thought families that didn't have multiple holidays abroad each year where just boring not financially limited. I feel like if left uncorrected is a potent source of apathy that the wealthy feel to the poor at least during their formative years.


rapaxus

I personally only realised my privileged upbringing when I found out how lusciously rich some people at my school where (school I went to when I was 12 years+). There were nobles, children from one of the richest people in Germany (where I live) and besides them I looked really poor with my parents both having an academic background (professor and teacher), but in reality my family is like in the top 5% of Germany by income. Though my parents also didn't fully realise our wealth until we looked at the numbers (my dad for example thought we were more in the top 20%).


DrLadyPants

This is so true. I grew up working class - not destitute, but not secure by any means. Lights got shut off a few times, we weren’t allowed to the door or the phone in case it was a bill collector, etc. I ended up going to a fairly elite college, while my sister went to the local state university. She still claims we grew up middle class and every time she says it I’m just can’t wrap my head around thinking not being able to make ends meet regularly = middle class. But also, she never knew undergrads who drove brand new G wagons.


valerie_stardust

I grew up very similarly and my brother and I ended up having similar college experiences and subsequent careers which took us out of lower class (medical dr and engineer). I feel like an impostor if I say we weren’t middle class. We had food on the table every day. It wasn’t till I was in my mid 20s that I realized that having utilities shut off wasn’t normal. I still have a hard time saying I grew up poor because I don’t believe we were in poverty, we were just broke. I can relate so hard with what you said.


Lemonwizard

My parents are both lawyers. Our family wasn't in the top 1%, but we were almost certainly in the top 5%. I went to one of the most expensive private schools in the state, and most of my classmates were the children of millionaires or even billionaires. With the exception of a handful of students on financial aid, I was basically the poorest kid there. My parents could afford the tuition but they gave up luxuries to be able to do so - it wasn't a drop in the bucket to them like it was to some of the other families there. I felt like a poor kid, even though that couldn't be further than the truth... but it seemed that way to me because I had so many peers who lived in literal mansions and had parents buy them a new BMW for their sixteenth birthday, etc. I had a friend buy me World of Warcraft and a year's worth of game cards with the credit card his parents had given him... that was linked to their account with no limit. He told me not to worry about paying him back because "Dad won't even notice" the money being spent. The idea of my parents giving a credit card to me at 13 was inconceivable. My parents were well off, but still had to budget their money. That feels poor when you're surrounded by people for whom money is literally no object. When a friend said "let's have a party at my parents' cabin at Lake Stevens this weekend" and everybody else says yes right away and I had to call my parents and ask to borrow the car, I felt like the poor kid. The fact that being in a room with these super rich kids at all made me privileged is something I never really processed prior to adulthood. You naturally come to define your environment as normalcy, even when your experience is vastly different from regular people.


lacyleann29

Yeah, I think most of us define our wealth comparatively. Curious, though, what benefits/drawbacks do you think experiencing life that way(more restricted than your peers/clear oversight by your family)... especially when compared with those same friends. Like has it helped you in anyway.... or possibly hindered you?


randybowman

The biggest benefit of it is likely the family friends who are well connected. When it comes to getting jobs it's basically about your connections.


Frale_2

I found out how lucky I really was when I started going out with people less fortunate than me, and there I really saw the difference in lifestyle, even in the way of thinking and seeing the world. Never take anything for granted, even a nice meal is a thing a lot of people cannot afford.


dopefish2112

Funny. Growing up in the burbs in the bay area i always thought i was middle class. Looking back I realized we were working class poor. Single mom making $20,000 a year in the 1990’s. If it weren’t for some close family friends who lent mom money after the divorce to buy out the house i would have been off to the ghetto. My mom was always in a bad mood. I thought she was just an angry person. Later i realized she was always worrying about how we were going to eat that week:


Verithos

This is something I wish my ex understood. She never had to worry about how food or resources would be taken care of. She knew I'd always figure something out, but never appreciated the work and stress that went into those solutions.


wearingmyfatpants

As a poor kid who was growing up in the bay area with a single Ma, there are a lot of memories I have of her saying "oh, I'm not hungry for lunch, you two just eat your soup." And she'd split a can of Campbells condensed between ma and my brother. She gave him all the meat and extra noodles, because "he's a boy." Looking back on memories like that I realized that she skipped a lot of meals to feed her kids. She was also stressed a lot.


Tertiaritus

In elementary school, my peers thought I was well-off because I was well-fed (read: obese) and back then school uniform was a must so most of them didn't know I wore clothes handed down throughout generations as my parents prioritized putting food on the table above all else and busted their asses for it 24/7, having experienced shortage of it in the 90s. In the meantime, I thought they were well-off because they all dressed nicely outside of school and were sporting up-to-date cellphones - however, many families had this culture of maintaining not necessarily affordable appearances while mildly disregarding things like bills or food, and essentially all this was turned out to be two sides of poverty with different priorities that rubbed off on them from their parents. To this day, some of my peers would rather cut back on food but go to clubs and have the latest iPhone while I favour a bag of pasta over a facemask (no, not the necessary kind - the cosmetic one). However, at the very least I'm starting to understand that other side - and I know for sure I won't have a kid until I can both feed them and make sure they don't have to wear my mom's jeans till graduation.


waitingforsnacks

I grew up class privileged and in my experience class privileged people tend to compare themselves to the Uber-rich, “well, I didn’t have XYZ...” or “I had a job in college!” Like...come on...


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I feel this problem is exasperated in our modern society. With social media everyone wants to brag and posts pictures of whatever trip / new toy / expensive wedding they have. What people don't see is other's credit card statements or monthly budgets. Everyone *wants* to seem wealthier than they actually are


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so it's best to just avoid social media since it's not good for anyone's health. Nothing but a vanity showcase


RazekDPP

All the more reason you should become better at photoshop. Instead of going places, just do a better job of photoshopping yourself to various places.


Perridur

Could you please explain how this visualization shows me who came from poverty? Doesn't it just compare their current salary to the trending value of the company?


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bthug27

Yeah cause really poor folk (like me) don't want attention and I ain't about to tell everyone that my family was on food stamps growing up.


AptCasaNova

People either get super uncomfortable or they don’t believe you, so I usually keep it to myself as well.


TheNextBattalion

Yeah reactions vary from abstract curiosity ("wait people like that are real?") to downright snobbery ("um who let the coyote into the barn?") to hyper-defensive guilt-pushing ("*I* have nothing someone like you can judge me for")


EwoDarkWolf

I used to tell funny stories from my childhood that for some reason ends with people saying "I'm sorry to hear that," instead of laughing at it like I intended. I hate talking about my childhood now. I'm not ashamed of it or anything, but I hate people's reactions to it.


SaftigMo

Some of my friends literally tell me to stop telling them about my childhood because it makes them sad, but I was just gonna rip some jokes not tell them my sad backstory.


Straightnochaser871

This made me laugh because it has been happening to me. I've had to watch the stories I tell in the staffroom because once a colleague responded with a very concerned, "Are you okay?"


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Sherm

> My mom tried starving me out when I was 14 for a few months and I had to figure out where I could get food every day. Dude. That's not poverty. That's hideous parenting. Most poor kids have parents that still feed them. (Also, sorry you had to go through that.)


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Cessily

I write creatively as a hobby and one of my pieces is all about the little lies we tell about our backgrounds so others aren't uncomfortable. The gist of the piece is you try to build a persona on who you would be if you didn't have all this trauma in your upbringing but you don't really know what you would've been like without it. It was inspired by realizing how many stories I altered because my childhood filled with poverty, abuse, and addiction makes my mostly middle class to working class co-workers squirm. Even memories that are happy to me or darkly humorous will derail a pleasant conversation or kill a jovial mood. I have an imaginary PR agent in my head building a big wall between my past and present like resort towns that try to hide their poverty from tourists behind a giant fence. *"Pay no attention to the Cessily behind the curtain"*


tobisowles

Oh man, when I drop one of those random childhood bombs and I swear I hear a record scratch like it's a bloody sitcom! 'What do you mean you've never tried {super common} food?' Well bro, there wasn't a stamp in the book for that one. Looks tasty though!


karnick80

trauma can be a great motivator—for example my dad was a compulsive gambler and we moved homes like 15x before I turned 18...I live every moment of my life trying to give my kids financial and housing stability. So maybe you can’t achieve the fantasy persona for you own childhood, but you can do your best being there for your family and pay it forward


Cessily

I completely understand what you mean by motivator. Both my parents spent periods homeless and living in whatever government assisted or cheap rental properties they could manage, or with the current flavor of the month romantic partner, or in my case left with random relatives. This meant a lot of schools and a lot of homes. I pointed out to my husband that our home is the only place I've lived in over a year. Now I can't imagine moving out of my children's school district and I spend a lot of time trying to make sure they have a childhood I wished for. However the same trauma that motivated me to run in the opposite direction also produced my half sister who is an addict and has children abandoned across the country. Her youngest two are with me after DCFS removed them when she and her partner had a domestic blow out in the street, under the influence, at the hotel they were currently living in. Then I have a few siblings who settled in the middle between the two extremes of me and my sister. Statistically, childhood trauma is not the way to best outcomes, but I appreciate stories like yours/ours. Makes me feel less a fraud, you know?


balthisar

I don't really have the opportunity to tell people that in the real world, because it doesn't come up. I've shared it on Reddit a few times, though, because why not? I escaped, and am glad to have done.


ChaseTheWind

I totally get where you’re coming from but I try to tell my story to as many people as I can, especially my kids and their friends. The younger generation needs to hear that it takes work and effort to break that cycle. I grew up in poverty. I’m talking, my mom pawned her belongings to make sure my sister and I had Christmas gifts one year, poverty. We never had money. I figured out around middle school age that education was the only way to break the cycle. My mom put herself through nursing school as a single mother of two and that example set up my mindset. Fast forward to today and I’m an aerospace engineer. Don’t be afraid to tell others your story, it may be the very thing that gets them inspired.


SpaceyCoffee

That’s my experience with wealthy techies. So many people from top tier universities talk about how “hard” it was growing up, and make it sound like landing that quarter-mil salary was some herculean uplifting from abject poverty. The right target questions will penetrate this often unrealized facade without them even noticing. Ask questions like “what rank was your high school?”, or “what kind of SAT prep did you have to do?”, or “what extracurriculars were you in?” Asking about jobs they held in high school and college are also good ones. People tend to overlook how overwhelmingly their background is colored by their parents’ wealth, so asking “what” questions like this can cut through their own personal ego to excise the details of what their family could afford, which as we now know has *everything* to do with future earning potential. In tech it’s noticeable, as people from wealthy families can afford to take greater risks to reap greater rewards, because the floor is so much higher if they fail thanks to family wealth that one can fall back on.


fy8d6jhegq

> what rank was your high school? High schools have rank?


SpaceyCoffee

Exactly. If you went to one of the schools that you would remember its “rank”... you probably were from a family of means. It’s often a dead giveaway. And yes, in wealthy areas, schools *definitely* have “ranks”.


katarh

My public high school hit #1 in my state when I was attending there. Hooooooo boy, the salt from some of the private schools. It's since backslid because public schools simply cannot complete with the private school arm's race. I just checked - currently ranked #11. 96% of the student body attending qualifies for free or reduced lunch.....


silverionmox

> I just checked - currently ranked #11. 96% of the student body attending qualifies for free or reduced lunch..... An excellent result in those circumstances.


Enchelion

It's also not just a question of your parents *personal* wealth, but the collective wealth of the place in which you grew up. My parents were below the national poverty line, but I still grew up in an extremely rich city with a top-tier public school system. That privileged education gave me a massive leg up. Also because of my parent's lack of wealth I was able to get my college tuition paid by the government, an odd but no less important handout/privilege that isn't available to everyone. Not enough privileged people try to make sure that others receive the same (or more) help that they got. They deny their privileges (as this paper indicates) and/or try and pull up the ladder behind themselves.


TheNextBattalion

Also, being in an environment where everyone has high-end colleges on the mind affects what students think they can reach.


katarh

That's a good point. I grew up lower middle class (military family) but because my parents had access to the resources that being in the military provided, and also were sticklers about my grades and education, I ended up going to a "good" school (still a public school, but a magnet fine arts school) and going to what I affectionately call Big State University, despite them not really being able to afford even that much. I graduated $30K in debt but.... worth it, I guess? Had my parents been able to cover those expenses, I wouldn't have started off my adult life dead broke.


darthsabbath

Oh man this one hits home. I didn’t grow up poor but certainly working class, and there were times money was tight. I never went hungry, but I think my parents struggled more than they let on and took on debt they couldn’t afford. The best life advice they could give me was “go to college, get good grades.” They knew nothing about which colleges, test prep, finances, investing, etc. And that’s not a knock on them... they did the absolute best they could. They just did not have any concept of that. When I graduated and got my first job, it was so weird talking to fellow grads who already had stock (sometimes gifted by their parents), never worked fast food, etc. They weren’t rich per se, but decidedly middle class or higher, and it was like talking to someone from another planet. I was more fortunate than many... I worked hard to get to where I’m at now, but I am incredibly privileged to have had a stable home and parents who tried their best to push me in the right direction. I can’t even imagine what someone who grew up actually poor would have to go through.


[deleted]

This reminds me of that clip from celebs go dating of toff. She's froma wealthy family and had a private education she and her date argued date about socialism and she said at one point "I haven't been given anything for free" or something to that effect and the guy replied "except your private education". To people who grow up rich that's just part of they're life. They don't realise that having a more comfortable childhood or that having family money to fall back on makes it easier to take risks and pursue opportunities


tobisowles

Yeah. Something as simple as being 'bored' and finding a new job is completely different. Rich kid gets 'bored' and quits his job, he has to ask mommy/daddy to pay for his girlfriend's hair and nails appt that week. I get 'bored' and quit my job? Even with another job lined up? Float the utilities and y'all better like rice and beans. Till the power gets cut, anyway.


SpaceyCoffee

Yeah i worked with a guy once that randomly quit to join a very risky startup... while he had a baby on the way. I was flabbergasted. It turned out he had an enormous trust fund, and work had never been, nor would ever be any more than a hobby for him. Wealth opens the doors for financial risk like you wouldn’t believe.


Slothball

It's a bit stunning but in a way that's kind of cool actually. Being able to work as a hobby.


comestible_lemon

That would be possible for basically everyone if we had Universal Basic Income.


peoplearestrangeanna

Not really. Many people would still need the job to live comfortable, especially in more expensive cities, or having more kids, or having to pay for grandmas LTC home or whatever. I wouldn't really call it a hobby, especially for people who don't have generational wealth. Because for them, not having the job would be far less devestating.. but it would also mean not being able to make some car or mortgage payments or this or that. That is why I don't get why people are so against UBI. It is not very much money. It literally just makes losing a job go from devestating and horribly life changing, to instead, a large incovenience. And the top 40% would think the UBI payments are pennies, because it would be pennies to them. Poor people can't have pennies in their couch to fall back in, they have to work hard like they did. But as the study above and many have commented, so many actually think they worked so hard and clawed their way to the top and were never given anything when that just isn't true, they grew up somewhat wealthy, they just weren't the most wealthy people in the neighbourhood.


mentalbreak311

Very well said. I have spent my career working with tech consultants and tech start ups. I always called it a class component. It’s true that it’s very demanding work, so you can’t deny that everyone works hard to get where they are. But the risk tolerance is such a big factor I think. When failure comes with a soft landing it’s much easier to make more high risk high reward decisions


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TSM-

I think a significant amount of people here are misunderstanding the study. It does not show that they lie about their privileged upbringing, but their 'origin stories' extend beyond their own life, spanning multiple generations. > We find that the main source of such misidentification is elaborate ‘origin stories’ that these interviewees tell when asked about their class backgrounds. **These accounts tend to downplay important aspects of their own, privileged, upbringings and instead emphasise affinities to working-class extended family histories.** > > Our findings indicate that this misidentification is rooted in a self-understanding built on particular ‘origin stories’ which act to downplay interviewees’ own, fairly privileged, upbringings and **instead forge affinities to working-class extended family histories**. Yet while this ‘intergenerational self’ partially reflects the lived experience of multigenerational upward mobility, it also acts – we argue – as a means of deflecting and obscuring class privilege So their origin story goes back to their parent's working class upbringings, and that is how they see their construct their own origin story. "My grandparents were working class farmers, but with grit we have overcome these limitations and made success for ourselves" is the way they frame it, not "When I was born my family was privileged".


Wriothesley

If you read to the end, it becomes clear that many of them use it to defect the privilege that they themselves grew up with - meaning that they refuse to recognize their upbringing as privileged. " Deploying an intergenerational upwardly mobile self not only skewed perceptions of the legitimacy of one’s achievements. It often also simultaneously blinded interviewees to the privileges that had flowed from their own upbringings. " " In short, interviewees often appeared to imply that the modest, unlikely and virtuous roots of their inherited economic capital *mattered*, that such transfers were underpinned with a unique meritocratic ethos ..." And the problem with this type of thinking is that it stigmatizes the working class, because it upholds the fiction of "meritocracy."


maxToTheJ

Honestly if you inherited everything why wouldn’t you think merit itself is inheritable.


Hunt_Club

Seems like most people didn’t read the article. It’s pretty much entirely about how 36/90 middle class people perceive themselves as being brought up working class. In addition, 24/36 of the subjects worked in television/acting which may have a significant affect on how they act. There is also the fact that this was conducted in the UK, which has similar but different social norms compared to the US where many people seem to be applying this. The fact stands that the majority of the people surveyed did not misinterpret their class origins. I’d be interested to see a study done on a larger scale in a city like Chicago or Austin


throwingthungs

This study seems to be more middle class folks acting as if from working class folks, and not the rich folks acting like they are from middle class as a lot of the comments assume based on the title.


frzn_dad

Depending on whose definition you use working class is often part of the middle class. Historically it wasn't even about how much you made but what kind of job you had. So it isn't surprising that people have different perspectives on what socio economic class they were part of growing up.


katarh

The immediate thought I had in my head was Senator Kelly Loeffler, a billionaire, wearing a flannel shirt in a desperate last ditch effort to make herself look like the farm girl she claimed to have once been.


Oak_Maiden

I noticed this as well and realized I fell into the same story. I thought we were poor when I was very young because my parents were farmers. We grew everything we ate and got by until my parents built up wealth while I was in grade school. In my small town my classmates were struggling but their parents didn’t own land and didn’t have the opportunity to build any wealth. My parents built themselves up for sure but just because I had to work manual labor on the farm did not mean I didn’t have a lot of privileges.


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diarrhea4dayz

It’s funny because in Japan, and most likely East Asia, it’s the complete opposite. You want to show off your wealth and how smooth and elegant and effortless your efforts are, even when you put a lot of effort into them