Classy Binding Agents

I’m a walking billboard – and so are you. Our language, music, how we move and what we wear all paint a picture for the world to see – giving clues about different facets of our identity – like our faith, ethnicity, gender and status.

Our social class is part of our starter kit. From the day we are born we learn the ways of our group. It becomes the milieu in which we are comfortable. Here is something from the Status & Class section of Art in Real Life:


Social Norms in Privileged Homes – If all the world’s a stage, scene I opens up onto daily routines in an upper class life. The set is big. The props are expensive. The dialogue is comfortable and familiar to members of that class. You see an army of barely noticeable support workers moving through the scenes: nannies, drivers, personal trainers, pool maintenance workers, landscapers, housekeepers, drivers and chefs.

Members of the upper class know how to respectfully engage and manage a full cadre of workers meandering through their personal lives. There’s a fine line between acknowledging someone’s presence and interrupting their work. Workers aren’t rendered invisible, but close to it, since any one of them could be physically in the space where a father and daughter are having a sensitive discussion, or where a couple is simply talking about their day. For the privilege of having all that support, high status people have had to learn how to be families – to be intimate – when there is an outsider in their midst.

If we shift the lens and instead focus on the workers in this scene, we find another set of skills. They know how to move and act so as not to interrupt or distract. Eye contact is avoided. They know their role – and place – very well.

Two very different classes sharing space and time. A transaction.


Belonging to a group can bring safety – and joy. Members understand and protect one another. Visitors are welcome – even encouraged – like newcomers to a religious ceremony. But, each group finds a way to strengthen their culture. When men gather with other men, they reinforce one another. When people of a faith gather and celebrate, they support one another. When Greeks, like all ethnicities, gather, they tell stories about their history and the importance of their culture. And, of course, members of each class find ways to gather and bond.

So, cheers to the festivals and fundraisers. Line up for the opera or demolition derby. There’s enough social glue for everyone.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *