18 Habits that Society Considers Lower-Class

Every society has unspoken rules about how people from different social classes and income brackets behave, dress, and communicate. Certain behaviors elevate a person’s perceived status, whereas others have the opposite effect. Here’s a look at 18 habits that, rightly or wrongly, tend to be associated with a lower social ranking.

Consuming Fast Food

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Eating at McDonald’s or KFC is often seen as an indicator of lower socioeconomic status, yet, interestingly, this belief is based on an illusion. Time Magazine reported that the middle class (with more disposable income but insufficient funds for fine dining) is actually the social class that consumes the most fast food.

Riding the Bus

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Reliance on public transportation is sometimes seen as a sign of low income, as it may indicate an inability to afford to buy or run a car. The Guardian states that the middle classes favor trains, often for environmental reasons, while buses are predominantly used by those in the lowest social groups.

Multi-Generational Households

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Business Insider writes that housing is expensive and that living with extended family may be an economic necessity rather than a personal choice. Although a low income may be the cause of extended family living in the sitting room, other factors (like strong familial bonds, seniors in need of care, and cultural traditions) may also play a significant role.

Secondhand Shopping

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Shopping at thrift stores or buying secondhand goods is often unfairly perceived as something only the lowest classes engage in. However, City-data.com claims the middle classes are the most avid thrift shoppers, enjoying the value, environmental responsibility, and uniqueness of rejecting more capitalistic forms of consumerism.

Overusing Slang or Profanity

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Feminuity says, “Dominant groups have weaponized ‘professionalism,’ civility, and respectability politics to label groups experiencing marginalization as unintelligent, less than, or lower class when they swear.” While ‘bad’ language is typically seen as crass, lower class, or undignified, it’s a class-crossing human experience—especially when we’re stressed or angry.

DIY Repairs

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The tendency to do it yourself when it comes to home repairs and maintenance can be misconstrued as a sign of not being able to afford professional services. But Yahoo Finance says that isn’t the whole picture—frugal middle-class homeowners and those interested in self-reliance, skill development, and personal achievement all make potential DIYers.

Prioritizing Work

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Choosing paid work over further education is often viewed critically, and the assumption can be that the individual cannot afford or see the value in greater learning opportunities. This ignores personal choice and preference and the value of useful vocational skills and trades, like carpentry and plumbing. 

Avoiding Healthcare

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A study in the National Library of Medicine supports the concept that health management can be a struggle for people in lower classes. This can be due to a lack of health insurance and affordability or to a poorer standard of education, which may have failed to instill medical trust and responsibility for one’s own health.

Cash Economy

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Operating in a cash-based economy and avoiding the use of banking services is often seen as a sign of lower economic status. While this may sometimes apply, the stereotype overlooks personal choices regarding finances, the accessibility and benefit of banking products, and a person’s potential desire for financial privacy and control.

Loud or Expressive Communication

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The lowest socioeconomic classes are often thought to be louder and less ‘refined’ when communicating. A study in Cardinal Scholar asserts that such cultural differences can lead to individuals being unfairly perceived as stupid, crass, or uneducated, which can even impact their future careers.

Free Recreational Activities 

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Avid participation in certain low-cost or publicly operated recreational activities is sometimes looked upon as an indicator of lower social standing. Activities like street basketball, community picnics, and library openings may be affordable for all, but that doesn’t mean they’re only enjoyed for that reason or only attended by those on a budget.

Coupons and Discounts

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The habit of using coupons or hunting for discounts can be regarded as desperate penny-pinching and something attached to lower-income households. However, it demonstrates financial savvy, bargain-hunting skills, and a dislike of wasting money—all of which are practical and positive skills for anyone aiming to spend responsibly.

Manual Labor Jobs

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Working in entry-level manual labor jobs that do not require prior skills or knowledge often pays minimum wage, but that doesn’t mean that all manual laborers have low incomes. Indeed claims that several manual, blue-collar jobs are not only vital to our society but well paid, particularly if they require specialist knowledge or skills.

Home Schooling

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Choosing to homeschool can be seen as an indicator of stupidity and lower economic status, especially if outdated religious beliefs or distrust of government are to blame. However, there are several alternative reasons parents choose homeschooling, like personalized education plans and concerns about bullying or social exclusion. 

Prepaid Cell Phones

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Opting for prepaid cell phones as opposed to monthly plans with expensive handsets and free minutes can be seen as a necessity for those without an adequate, reliable income. However, people of all classes choose the convenience and control of prepaid tariffs, particularly if they have low levels of usage. 

Poor Financial Management

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Society often assumes that those in the lowest income brackets are poor at handling their finances or irresponsible spenders. While True Charity reports that those living in poverty are the most in need of financial education, many people of higher social status have terrible money management skills, accruing debt, failing to invest, and wasting money on frivolous items.

Tacky Clothing

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Society often perceives wearing garish, revealing, or overly patterned clothing as a lower-class habit. But this ignores the wide range of clothing choices made by people of all classes dependent on personality, mood, lifestyle, age, current trends, and climate! 


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The superficial and thoughtless nature of gossiping has made it a habit we commonly associate with lower classes and the poorly educated. While there is certainly gossip among the lowest economic groups, there is gossip everywhere else, too! Talking about others is a personality trait that isn’t exclusively tied to a specific social class.

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