Upper, middle and lower class in Pakistan

Sociology is the study of societies where different groups of individuals interact with others. They mostly live in same places and obviously at the same time. They learn their interaction process through different agents of socialization i.e. individuals, families, communities, institutions like educational and religious and social and economic environment etc. Sociologists after their researches, analyze and explain how and why people behave differently in different social contexts? How much an individual is free to shape his future? How people are affected by their social structures and social institutions? How religion affects an individual’s life? How and why an individual is discriminated because of his gender, race, ethnicity and social class? What are the benefits of Globalization and for whom? How culture affects one’s acts? These are types of questions which sociologists try to answer.

In this term report, after interviewing myself and two other individuals, I will try to observe and analyze three persons’ lives having different social backgrounds, sociologically.

I was born in Chiniot (a small city in Punjab now a District). It is still under-developed and under-privileged. My grandfather also lived in Chiniot and so my father. My father is a lawyer as well as an agriculturalist but now mere agriculturalist and my mother is a housewife having primary education. Our basic source of income nowadays is agriculture, because of health issues of my father (heart patient).I have two sisters and no brother. I was admitted in a private school, having reasonable fees, which was at a walking distance from my house. My class fellows also belonged from middle class families. The teachers in our schools were mostly having fresh Bachelor’s degrees. So, I just learnt how to memorize a text and get good marks, in my school. My neighborhood consisted of middle class families which hardly could manage their incomes and expenditures. After getting primary education, because of belonging to a pretty much religious family, I was asked to “Hifz’’ Quran and I did the same. My father is quite religious and love talking about it. I learnt how to behave with others chiefly through religion, parents and my college. For intermediate education, I was sent to Lahore as there was no reasonably good college in our city. I was the only male children, so, my parents wanted to provide me with the best maximum possible education.  I got admission in one of the best government institution. I learnt a lot from my college and fellow students and teachers were also quite intellectual. My two sisters are also getting education from the same level school that I attended. My parents are thinking about siblings’ further studies in local college as they are daughters and should not leave home. “Jahez” (money or property that a wife or wife’s family gives to her husband when the wife and husband marry in some cultures) is important in our family but not as much. My goal in life is not decided yet because of less guidance for career but it will not be same as of my father’s i.e. Agriculturalist. We live jointly with the family of my father’s brother. I don’t love Politics but want to know important information. I never visited any foreign country. I have my smartphone as a gift by my father for getting admission with scholarship here in IBA. I also have my laptop given by our provincial government to encourage students. I generally prefer to follow rules. I speak Urdu comparatively well than English and Punjabi.

The second individual is my class mate here in IBA who was born in an affluent area in Karachi. She has neighborhood mostly consisted of elite class. Her father is an Engineer having a lucrative office and mother is a housewife and studied till Intermediate. She had attended city’s best educational institutions like Karachi Grammar School. She also had two sisters and no brother. She had her sister studied at LUMS.  She had learnt how to deal others through all agents of socialization i.e. individuals, educational institutions, family, social and economic environment. Her family was formerly lower middle class but that was before her birth. After her father got promotion, they gradually moved to upper class and their lifestyle started changing. She lives with her breadwinner father, housewife mother and two siblings. She had visited foreign countries many times like for different conferences and exchange programs. She has her personal laptop.  They have no sort of belongings like land. She is not as much interested in Politics. She has to struggle many times because of his gender as heavy marriage pressures and for pursuing career goals. “Jahez” has a great importance in her family. Her parents are religious but she is not as much and her parents never force it upon her, they just guide her. She prefers to follow rules and regulations and the reason is her superb grooming in a high class school i.e. Mama Parsi in Karachi. She knows well about the discrimination i.e. racial, ethnic, gender, religious etc. in our society and she condemns it. She feels miserable towards poor around. She longs for better education abroad but two things restricts her from doing this i.e. her parents view that girls should not study abroad and the money problem. She behaves well with her fellow citizens. Her family is quite healthy. Her career goal is not decided yet. She hardly takes any interest in Politics. She speaks English comparatively well.

The third individual is a man who was born in Lahore slums. He has been living here in Karachi since 2006 and sales chicken, before chicken business, he was a plumber. His other male siblings also do the same sort of works to earn their living. His father is a retired army personnel and mother is a housewife with no education. He has 12 siblings. His educational level is matriculation. He had learnt certain norms chiefly through religion and parents i.e. agents of socialization. He wished to be an army officer but his family was unable to help him achieving his aim. The main issue was money. He has 2 children. Both are still not in the age of going school. He says that he will give education to his children no matter what the circumstances are. His family is quite religious. He also offers ‘’Namaz’’ when he listens to the “Azan” and he didn’t care even about his business then. He says that luck is the dominant part in making one’s life choices and therefore, he is satisfied with what he is. He lives with his brothers in the same house. He never visited any foreign country. He says that all politicians in our country are corrupt. “Jahez” has no importance in his family and the groom himself manage all necessary products. He is quite strict towards freedom of women. He has his mother and sisters rarely go outside home. He even said, “we should kill the girl or woman if she dresses modernly”. He is quite angry towards government policies and never expect anything from them. He at his shop, many times has to give bribe and if he doesn’t, he has to go to jail for some days. He has his mobile through which he can only message or make a call. He views that religious education is more important than world’s education. He says that if he were rich, even then he never sends her daughter to the university because it is a waste of money. Daughters have to leave their home one day. Why do you invest on their education? He was quite in favor of his son going to university. He speaks Punjabi comparatively well than English and Urdu.

Characteristics Persons Individual 1 Individual 2 Individual 3
Gender              Male             Female            Male
Age                 17                 20            35
Place of Birth         Chiniot             Karachi       Lahore slums
Current Status      Studying in IBA   Studying in IBA     Chicken Seller
Social Status        Middle class       Upper class       Lower class
Father’s occupation       Agriculturalist          Engineer     Military Personnel
Preferable language            Urdu          English          Punjabi
No. of Siblings/Children               2                    2 12 siblings/ 2 children
Agents of Socialization Mainly Religion,

College, and Parents

               All  Mainly Religion and

Parents

 

One of the basic sociological idea which we can conclude after observing three cases is social stratification which is the structured inequalities between different groups in a society in terms of their access to material or symbolic rewards. Different access to these rewards is because of different social classes. Different kinds of basic necessities and facilities are different in different areas. Karachi’s affluent area is far more beyond in education, health, transportation, public parks etc. than Chiniot’s middle class area or Lahore slums. Individual 2 has far more better chance to succeed in her future life as compared to Individual 1 and individual 3. The reason is according to some sociologists, is her birth in an upper class family. This is true because a middle class and an upper class man does not have the same life choices (opportunities each individual has to improve his or her quality of life) as an elite. She has studied in best institutions, groomed well and visited foreign countries. So, how can Individual 1 and individual 3 compete against her. She is already a winner. For example, how an agriculturalist having just a few acre land and a lower rank army officer who had to do laborious tasks are comparable to an Engineer having lucrative office. This process is not new. Most probably fathers of all these might be on the same social level. Chances of mobility from one social level to the other are rare. We can see this only in individual 2 case. Her father, after getting promotion, changed their entire lifestyle. They moved from lower middle class to upper class i.e intergenerational mobility. So, a man is not utterly free to shape his future. The more one has better life choices, the more better will be one’s future.

When we talk about the family systems of these individuals, individual 1 and individual 3 seem to live with joint families i.e. extended families (families having children, mother, father, father’s brother and his family or mother’s brother or family etc. ) while Individual 2 has a nuclear family i.e. children with their sole breadwinner father and mother). So, we can conclude, there is more solidarity among middle and lower class than upper class. Individual 1’s and 2’s parents (2 siblings each) are educated enough who knows the benefits of less children and less population i.e. job opportunities, less inequality, better standard of living etc. Individual 3 has 12 siblings because his parents were unaware of the disadvantages of more population. Health also affected Individual 1’s life as his father gave up advocacy. If he were still a lawyer, his life choices might be different.

Moving to religion, the most religious in this case seems to be Individual 1’s class because his family not only follows religion, but also know the reason why they follow. Then comes the chicken seller who in every circumstance tries to offer “Prayer”. Individual 3’s family follows it but not she as much. The reason might be this that her parents’ parents impose religion on them but not her parents upon her. This is because of freedom and liberty i.e. liberalism in the modern world. They let her free to abide by it or not. So, religiously, lower and middle class people are better than elites.

Now, let’s move on to the world’s most basic social problem i.e. Inequality or discrimination because of gender, race, social class or religion. Gender inequality is the inequality that women have to face because of their gender. In all three cases, inequality is easily seeable. In individual 1 case, my sisters will study in the same city where there are not better institutions while I am here in Karachi and for Intermediate I was in Lahore. Same is the case with Individual 2 whose family is pretty modern but her parents also view that girls should not study abroad. She has much marriage pressures even though she is studying. Individual 3 for her younger son and daughter views that if he gets enough money to give education to her children, he will not send his daughter to the university but his son will go. In all three cases, mothers are housewives who just do chores and take care of children. This is also a form of gender inequality to restrict women to mere houses and not allow them to show their talent outside their homes. We can also observe that rich people just have miserable feelings for poor (individual 2). Consequently, poor people think that they are poor only because of their luck (individual 3) and rich people has nothing to do with their poverty. In this way, poverty goes on and discrimination seems to be unended.

Language priorities are also different among people having different social backgrounds. As in our case, lower class prefers local, middle class prefers national and upper class prefers global language. It all depends upon one’s opportunities. Individual 1 thinks that at his level national language is the best and more advantageous and for Individual 2, global language is more important and for Individual 3, regional language is more beneficial.

When people talk about modern communication networks, no doubt, they are available to anyone and for anyone. But they give rise to another form of discrimination i.e. digital divide. Ways to approach internet and other networks, for rich people are easy and accessible but not for all. As individual 1 has a laptop given free by the government and he has slow internet connection. Individual 2 has her personal laptop and enjoys high speed internet while individual 3 has hardly heard of the laptop.

Stereotyping (faulty generalizations about others) is also observable in our case. People say that those who are illiterate (usually poor) are more inclined towards “Jahez”. As individual 2’s family are quite anxious about “Jahez”. Lower and middle class families don’t bother about it much (Individual 1 and Individual 3). So, it has proved that stereotyping is not always correct.

Another important observation is interest in Politics of these individuals. Upper class female doesn’t bother about country’s circumstances, because there are no financial crisis in her family. While middle and upper class individuals keep their eyes on the policies of government expecting something good to improve their living standards.

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