Social class has fallen off the radar in America, but remains key to understanding many of the problems we face today in society. This includes everything from the erosion of political norms to men no longer behaving as gentlemen.
These problems are traceable in part to the fall of the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) establishment. Sociologist E. Digby Baltzell, who popularized the term WASP, predicted many of these problems years ago. In a new podcast series starting today, we will examine his work and what it tells us about America.
In this episode we will define and distinguish between the elite, the wealthy and the upper class. We well also talk about what it means to be a well-functioning (aristocratic) vs. poorly-functioning (caste) upper class. And we’ll define authority and establishment, looking at what makes for a well-structured (establishment) and poorly-structured (caste) elite. Finally, we’ll talk about the very specific meaning that the term WASP itself has.
These categories are fundamental to understanding what has happened to America since the decline of the establishment. In future episodes we’ll trace some of the consequences of this.
American Affairs: Rediscovering E. Digby Baltzell’s Sociology of Elites
Niskanen Center: The Rise of the “Establishment,” and Its Impact Today