Most people have heard of high society. Many different images may come to mind. Just about everyone has some vision of it, but the majority will associate the term with the upper crust of society, the social register of a town or city, and the movers and shakers who make up the favored and the elite in social situations.
For some people, high society is a concept that is considered to be archaic and ultimately nothing more than a false barrier between citizens in a community. As a means of making it possible to exclude persons who are not desirable because of race, religion, gender, or economic status, the inclusion in high society is often based on the possession of certain characteristics. Among these are family money, a family name that has come to be regarded highly in the community, and attending an acceptable house of worship.
In other instances, entry into high society may be achieved by working in a profession that is considered to be especially desirable or respectable, attending schools that are considered to be of higher quality than others, and living in the right type of neighborhoods and towns. Critics of high society note that the entire idea does nothing more than divide people into economic and social classes, and draw arbitrary lines that help to prevent communication and interaction between broad varieties of people.
Others note that high society is not a concept that is meant to exclude anyone, but rather a way to allow persons of like minds and background to interact with one another. It is a way of ensuring that certain social customs and graces are maintained from generation to generation. The cultivation and maintenance of these social graces is supported by the establishment of a social circle that may appear to be made of the social elite, but in fact is made of those who have worked hard to either gain admittance to the upper class economically and socially. From this perspective, high society is understood to be a reward for effort, rather than a means of building walls between people.
High society has been a fertile concept for entertainment over the years. Comedy productions often draw broad caricatures of snooty society men and women and their disdain for the common folk. Popular dramas have often used the concept for examples of a beautiful veneer that hides a great deal of corruption. In still other cases, it is portrayed as a set of values that ultimately saves the life and goals of young people, keeping them on the straight and narrow.