by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright February 2016
What kinds of social classes will there be in 2050? I foresee two large categories -- The Rights Classes and the Ambitious Classes. Within these two will be many subcategories, and surrounding them will be some smaller other categories.
This essay is about this social structures in the various Total Entitlement State (TES) communities of 2050. Keep in mind the three kinds of money that will exist in 2050 -- necessity, luxury and financing -- and that these are not interchangeable.
Rights classes, as in, "I've got my rights!" These are groups where the people in them take full advantage of the necessity income, thrive on it, and do little to contribute to increasing material prosperity/well being of their community. "Get a job!", in its 2010's meaning, is nothing these people are into.
The majority of these people spend much of their time in their rooms engaging in personal entertainment of various sorts -- these sorts will be whatever video streaming and video gaming evolve into in 2050.
For "outdoor activities" these people are into "bread and circus" activities such as concerts and sports events, protesting for more rights, and researching new ways to game the system.
These people are also quite tolerant of hoop-jumping to get their TES rights, and standing in line to get things -- they piss and moan a lot, but they routinely do the waiting and hoop-jumping. They scorn ambitious folk who "pay to line cut" as they see it. Disneyland -- with all its standing in line, and being a standard vacation destination -- is a 2010's example of what will be a rights class vacation spot in 2050. The big difference being that in 2050 the TES will be paying people to vacation there, as in, going there will be paid for with necessity money. (I envision Disneyland itself becoming the primo rights vacation spot.)
There will be all sorts of Us versus Them thinking and urban legend creating going on in this social class. This will happen because there is no reason for it not to happen. These people are delusional when it comes to making things.
Because of Us versus Them they won't think of themselves as a single class. There will be lots of flavors within this general class. Some examples: stay-at-home versus out-and-partying and noisy concert going, grubby versus fashionista, cosplay of many different flavors.
Rights class education will be centered around teaching opinions and urban legends. Rigorous science topics and thinking techniques will not be of much interest. Likewise, those who offer courses based on rigorous science techniques will not be of much interest. Too boring. Why bother? Much more interesting are people offering urban legends in charismatic ways. For this reason religions of various fundamentalist flavors will be popular. They will be exciting right along side rock star entertainers and rock star chefs.
There will be lots of cosplay of many sorts, and lots of other rituals based on popular newer urban legends and mythologies -- 2010's examples being Star Wars, Star Trek and Marvel comic topics. Older mythologies, such as Ancient Greek/Roman and Shakespeare, will steadily loose relevance until they get "rebooted" in a modern format. (related thought: how much did the Hercules legend morph/reboot during Ancient Greek and Roman times? Most likely, a lot!)
One subset of this class will be the nomads. These are the evolution of the current "homeless" classes into 2050's versions.
They will move from place-to-place, and support "The Cause", with each defining the cause in their own way. They may call themselves "homeless" and may sleep outdoors on occasion to prove they are, but there are plenty of homeless shelters they can stay at when they get tired of cosplaying being homeless.
They will also do a lot of begging and system gaming in obnoxious ways, similar to the 2010's practices of holding signs on street corners and using restrooms for long-stay break areas. They will be supported by TES paying them their necessity money, social justice types who notice obviously poor people and want to spontaneously help them, and sympathetic social workers whom the TES pays to offer them support, as in, social working is their job. (Social work will in the Top 40 Jobs category.)
These are people who take bettering the human condition through personal effort as a serious endeavor. They devote a lot of time and attention to making their personal efforts make a difference to society's well-being.
They are also "time is money" folk. They don't like standing in line or hoop-jumping to get things. Some will system game, but this is not a highly-favored activity. They will do it quietly.
When they do game, it will be in sophisticated ways that are part of their world-shaking ambitious activities, or it will be when they are taking "time off" from their serious thinking and projects. Or, it will happen because they have become discouraged, and they are feeling disenfranchised, and feel more like betraying than innovating.
The ambitious classes will want their children raised with more rational thinking, and more training in how to think rather than what to think.
They will also want their children to have real-world physical experiences. Something like Outward Bound will be part of the ambitious class learning experience. These people, and their parents, will feel that understanding and experiencing physical reality is an important part of education.
Where will these people learn about manufacturing and assembling? I don't know. But it will be important for them to do so, and this will be recognized by parents and ambitious class educators. There will also be hands-on style farms which have lots of tending, experimenting, and learning from mistakes.
Many of the ambitious class will end up becoming dilettantes, but a few will master the full series of challenges that it takes to become world-shakers, as in, changing the world by enhancing the cyber-dominated activities, and they will be contributing significantly to what cyber are doing in the manufacturing, service and transport industries.
These people won't make anything new but they are ambitious. They will climb social ladders and become opinion makers. One variety will be the high tech version of gossips -- they will be powerful at social shaming on social media. Another variety will become politicians -- what politicians will control in 2050 is unclear, but whatever it is, these people will be into it. Yet another variety will become high-profile religious leaders -- mega church leaders.
How will regulator-type bureaucrats fit into this mix? What kinds of activities will they be setting up barriers to entry to? How will they mix with what cyber is ready to hand out to everyone? Answers to these questions will be the surprises of 2050.
There will be those who advance by becoming accomplished dilettantes. The icons for this will be rock stars and sports stars. Entertainers will continue to grow in importance. All these dilettante activities will be structured as "lots of aspirants with a handful of rock stars mixed in" activities.
There is going to be lots of Us versus Them thinking in the TES environments, and closely related: Chosen People thinking.
There will be lots because... why not? Unlike in the 2010's it won't interfere with getting stuff made because cyber is doing so much of the making. It is powerful instinctive thinking, so when an Us versus Them case can be made... why not? Closely related: lots of Pillars of Faith and lots of urban legend spouting to support the Chosen People distinction.
Among the Chosen People groups there will be many that are particularly close-minded because they are specifically "anti-some-other-group" and that anti-ness is the center of their belief system. One way this can come about is a schism over whether or not to continue to sustain a Pillar of Faith -- a contemporary example being polygamy among Mormon subcultures.
Social shaming and blacklisting are going to be common activities in 2050, and powerful ones. But how they will be handled will be surprising.
What will "blacklisting" consist of? If you are a Them, what can't you do? What kind of teeth will be backing social shaming? This will be a potent social tactic among the Rights classes in the TES environment.
The ambitious classes that are shaking up the world will have much less Us versus Them in their social universe. Cooperation is important to accomplishing Big Visions, and the ambitious classes will be pursuing Big Visions.
If they are like the MIT environment I experienced in the 1970's, there will be horsing around and teasing that looks like Us versus Them, but this is role playing, not a serious attitude. This teasing and mock intolerance will confuse outsiders. They will want to join a side and be serious about the Us versus Them. They will be confused when the ambitious people giggle at them for this seriousness.
One hard question of the 2050's is: What will humans continue to control in the ways of distributing wealth?
Ambitious people (not the class) will want a lot of control. And the TES types will be quite acclimated to hoop-jumping to get things, so they are willing to let irrational/delusional control happen. This part of human traits will likely lead to humans still having a lot of say in how goods and services are distributed... even though they shouldn't have to because the cyber can make these choices very efficiently and rationally.
This means that one of the social revolutions will be when people realize the humans have too much control, get fed up with it, have a revolution, and let cyber handle distributing the TES necessities, not humans. There will still be lots of grumbling after this happens, but it will be happening in a really prosperous environment, as in, there is a whole lot more material prosperity for everyone.
The social classes in the 2050's are going to be quite different from those of the 2010's. Because there will be so much prosperity, and cyber controlling the core of that prosperity, human social classes will evolve into something quite different from the 2010's experience.
Two big categories will evolve: The "Rights" category being those who live a TES Necessity Lifestyle and accept being given sustenance by the state as something to take for granted. The "Ambitious" category will be those who still try to make a difference in how their world operates. Within both these categories are going to be a lot of subcategories.
Shaping all these categories will be lots of Us versus Them instinctive thinking which will lead to a lot of Chosen People thinking.