Graduation Year

Spring 2012

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Frederick R. Lynch

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Rights Information

© 2012 Trevor Richard Beltz


What does it mean to be middle class? The majority of Americans define themselves as members of the middle class, regardless of their wealth. The number of Americans that affiliate with the middle class alludes to the idea that it cannot be defined simply by level of income, number of assets, type of job, etc. The middle class is a lifestyle as much as it is a group of similarly minded people, just as it is a social construct as much as it is an economic construct. Yet as the masses fall away from the elite, and changes continue to reshape the occupational structure of the job market—due to globalization in a technological age; many have begun to question whether or not the middle class—and, by extension, the American way of life—will be able to survive. This thesis analyzes which Americans fall into the category of middle class and why. It observes the possible reasons the middle class is changing from the style portrayed through much of the 19th and 20th centuries. And lastly, this thesis poses possible solutions through public policy initiatives.