25 March, 2010
Sociology 201, Section 6
Social Location Reflection Paper
There are a variety of social factors, which make up a person’s social location, that exert an effect on every person’s development as an individual. Social location can be defined as the spaces that people occupy due to their location in society (Henslin, 4). The three factors that have contributed the most to my social location are my social class, race, and education. These among many other things have had a significant impact on the way that I view the society that we live in today.
I believe that social class is an important factor in determining ones social location, because of the idea that social class is what places people into groups. This grouping, also known as social stratification, is based on several different things. My social class has affected my social location significantly, because of the fact that I have been provided with the necessary resources to be successful. I would consider myself a part of the upper middle class, due to my parent’s success in the workplace as well as in their society in general. The reason I chose social class as a determining factor of my social location is because of the fact that my social class as of now is based on that of my parents. Whereas if I were able to support myself I may not have chosen social class, but instead used the subcategories that make up a person’s social class, such as education and income.
Even though my parents have provided me with all of the things that I need I haven’t
always been handed money. When I was sixteen, I became a lifeguard at the country club in our neighborhood. I didn’t do this because my parent forced me, but because I wanted to make money on my own so that I could spend it however I pleased. I believe that observing my parents social status made me more inclined to work, because the idea of being successful in life was high on my list of priorities. Also, the upward intergenerational mobility that my father experienced pushed me to achieve more on my own. This has contributed to my social location by giving me a good work ethic and the belief that I have to work for something and cannot just wait for things to come to me.
Another thing that has contributed to my social location is my racial background. Being a part of the dominant group has given me a different outlook on society as well as many opportunities that people of the minority may not have. I have absorbed many different outlooks on racial differences which make up my own views and ideas of other races. In my home, I was always taught to treat everyone equal regardless of their racial background.
However, being from the South, many people that I encountered every day had a strong sense of racial identity, especially those in the minority at my high school. This may be due to the fact that many of the white kids were extremely prejudiced against the minority groups, which in turn made the minority look at all white people in a negative light. Some of the kids in the dominant group may have acted in this way due to the idea of self-fulfilling prophecy. This institutionalized discrimination has affected my social location by giving me a bad reputation in the eyes of the minority, even though I didn’t participate in the acts myself. Being in the dominant group has affected my social location by giving me a different view of other people based on the ways that they are stratified relative to me.
On the other hand, being raised in a home where discrimination was frowned upon has given me the ability to avoid some of the negative perceptions that the minority may have of me and all white people for that matter. Though we normally think of people in the minority when we speak of labeling and the negative connotations that come with it, in this case the majority has received a label and has been negatively affected by it. I was lucky enough to be able to escape this selective perception that the