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Dimensions of Stratification – Social Class Bites

December 10, 2010 by and tagged , , ,

Interesting article in that it shows how social class membership is embedded in everything about us:

“When you hear the words “class struggle”, do you reach for your toothbrush? You should. According to a report on adult dental health released this week by the NHS, one adult in 10 in Wales has none of their own teeth left. Not one. The figures are slightly better for England and Northern Ireland – the report was ominously silent about Scotland – but the average British mouth is still missing upwards of six teeth.”

And it’s not just in the UK:

“In the US, as in the UK, a person’s class is etched in their teeth. In his 1991 classic, Savage Inequalities, author Jonathan Kozol wrote: “Bleeding gums, impacted teeth and rotting teeth are routine matters for the children I have interviewed in the south Bronx.” A report by the US National Institute of Health says poor children today are far more likely to suffer from severe baby-tooth decay “caused by frequent or prolonged use of baby bottles that contain milk, sugared water, fruit juice or other sugary beverages”. The US has more celebs with perfect teeth simply because it has more celebs (and maybe more rigid standards of celebrity appearance). But US government statistics still show deep racial differences in dental health, and just as steep a class divide as Britain. That, rather than the space between our incisors, is a gap we should all mind.”

And bad teeth truly can make one’s life miserable and generate a stigma for their possessor in themselves but also in so far as teeth relate to physical attractiveness.

Also, this (not for the faint of heart!)

Posted in Health, Health Care, Social Inequalities, Social Stratification | 1 Comment »

One Response to “Dimensions of Stratification – Social Class Bites”

  1.   Kathmandu Says:

    Actually, the U.S. has more rigid standards of tooth-appearance for the middle class on up. Teeth must be straight, they must be all there, and they should be white. Our celebrities are held to a higher standard of looks in general, but visibly-flawed dentition is a significant barrier to even ordinary white-collar jobs.



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