Bimbo Banter


Breaking Beige: Social Class Communication with Walter White


  • Trends
  • April 29, 2015
  • by Meaghan Poulin

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As the resident Spaeth intern for the past ten months, I’ve been both working and writing—gulp, my senior thesis. In my paper, I set out to explore how “designated” social class affects workplace communication and success. With heavy inspiration from Deborah Dougherty’s book, “The Reluctant Farmer,” I began the journey of writing my now-completed paper. (Phew!).

Through my research, I learned that social class is not based on power and wealth, but is rather what Dougherty describes as a “communication phenomenon.” But what does that mean exactly? Simply that social class structure is maintained through habits and communication, rather than monetary resources.

By determining the “correct” form of communication, the upper classes maintain their power by controlling the dominant way people interact. A good example of this is from “Breaking Bad,” when Skylar and Walt miss the all-beige dress code memo for a party at their wealthy friends’ home. 

To take this a step further, it is these habits and forms of communication that help create positive relationships in the workplace based on shared knowledge and understanding of upper class communication.

Being privy to correct habits and communication creates an advantage in most traditional corporate settings. These habits often include ways of communicating with upper management, understanding appropriate dress and social expectations for work functions. And it is this type of knowledge advantage that aids the upper class formation and maintenance of power.

Essentially, being born into or immersed in upper class habits and communication provides access to all of the “unspoken rules,” the most important of which—wearing beige to a birthday party. 


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