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Perfect fit:?Hidden class rules

April 15, 2012
By CATHY BROWNFIELD - Family Recovery Center , Salem News

LISBON - How do you feel about where you are in your life? Do you avoid thinking about it? Do you understand the hidden rules of class in this country?

From the earliest civilizations there has been social stratification: those who are wealthy, those who are in poverty, and those somewhere in between. In the history of some cultures you will find that there was no way to change your station in life. If you were born into a wealthy family, you remained a part of that "caste." If you were an "untouchable," you had no hope of ever improving your lot in life. But such is not the case in the United States. There are, however, hidden rules of class. American schools and businesses operate under the hidden rules of middle class.

The degree of your resources places you somewhere in that Great Chain of Being. You can figure out where you fit in when you review your resources, including financial, emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, support systems, role models and knowledge of the middle-class hidden rules. Let's look, specifically, at some of the hidden rules.

Ability to use formal register

What is formal register? That is the standard sentence syntax and word choice of work and school, using complete sentences and specific words, and using them correctly. State tests for students like SAT and ACT are in formal register.

If you can't use formal register correctly, will you be able to continue your education past high school? Vocabulary and knowledge of sentence structure and syntax are required to use formal register. Syntax is the way words are put together to form phrases, clauses or sentences.

In the matter of discourse, it is pertinent to get to the point rather than meandering around a subject.

Discourse is the way information is organized. Do you get right to the point (formal register) when you are explaining something or answering questions? Or do you ramble around it (casual register) until you finally get to the point? Can you communicate and function in the language of society at large? Do you understand what that means?

Story structure

In formal register, the story structure starts at the beginning and proceeds through to the end of the story as you follow the plot. Or do you start with the most emotional part of the story first and skip around when you are answering questions?

Middle class means you can negotiate through conflict rather than fighting your way through it. The concept of money, in middle class, is for financial security, not to define your personality.

Having tools to work with means you can make repairs and manage maintenance on your property. And when someone says the world is your oyster, you know they mean the world, not just where you live in a community.

Here are a few things to remember:

-Poverty occurs everywhere.

-Economic class is not a clear-cut distinction.

-Situational poverty and generational poverty are different.

-We carry with us the hidden rules of the class in which we were raised.

-Understanding the hidden rules can lead to economic security.

FRC promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and mental health. For more information about this topic contact Family Recovery Center at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail,



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