College Essay Examples

Sunset Trailer Park: An Essay on Social Stratification

Environmental Studies: Public Participation Mini-Project

The writer of this essay has focused his argument around social stratification in America, based on their experiences growing up in a trailer park. Social stratification is the ranking of people based on perceived differences, such as race, ethnicity, wealth and resources (“Sociology: Comprehensive Edition,” 2012). The writer states that trailer parks were initially invented to offer home solutions to those who could not afford a permanent residence in America or those whose jobs relied on the convenience of temporary homes. As the writer describes it, the idea of transience painted trailer park residents as individuals who were very unstable both morally and economically. Steadily, these ideas became the basis of trailer park stereotypes, which subjected white trailer park residents to prejudice from their counterparts who lived in permanent homes. Research has shown that lower-income families tend to be relegated to the densely populated and heavily polluted parts of big cities and towns (Boyce, 2018). The case seems to be true for the writer, as they complain of the “unforgettable stench” found in the trailer park due to pollution from nearby industries. The trailer parks themselves were in morbid conditions, as they were poorly planned and rushed in construction. The writer reports that sometimes due to the marshy ground underneath the coat of tarmac, trailers would begin to sink into the ground. The poor state of infrastructure further entrenches the social divide; as such, incidents would not have happened in the middle-income areas (Eitzen, 2009).

The social construction of class relies heavily on an individual’s network and income, which means that a person is more often than not going to abide by and adapt to the rules and social cues set by those in their own economic class. The social construction of class makes it hard for people of different classes to communicate freely, as is shown by the writer when they inquire from their mother about the friendships she had developed in the trailer park. Indeed, the mother had formed close and well-knit connections with the women inside the trailer park but had only one friend from the upper-middle-income earners who lived in permanent houses. The writer also points out that white middle-income earners usually compared themselves with trailer park families to enunciate their success and prowess among white people. On the other hand, trailer park families compared themselves to even poorer lower-income families to the same degree (Eitzen, 2009). 

Within the trailer parks, the writer also suggests that there was the construction of social classes. The writer states that his father enjoyed some respect because he worked in television, which shows the social construction of class around functionality; that is to say, his job seemed more important than many of his peers. The writer also states that lots in the trailer park next to the divide between them and the middle-income houses fetched greater social prestige amongst trailer park people (Eitzen, 2009). 

The media played a big role in further enshrining the stereotypes being propagated about trailer park families. Movies being released offered two kinds of stereotypes. The first kind involved trailer park families as being clean, tidy areas where veterans from the Second World War, young families or newlyweds moved in and began their lives. The second type of stereotype painted trailer park life in a bad light. Print media such as novels suggested that trailer park lives were all about wanton sex, prostitution, substance abuse and alcoholism. Children who grew up in trailer parks were also often seen as unsupervised, and their mothers would well have been single mothers on welfare. Young men were depicted as single, without stable jobs most of the time. By the writer’s own admission, the collective of this definition might have been true for a few trailer parks but was adopted by the general public as the true trailer park life. As an effect, laws were set in suburban areas to cordon off trailer parks from the rest of the lavish neighborhoods, which continued to widen the gap between the two classes (Eitzen, 2009).



Boyce, B. J. K. (2018). THE ENVIRONMENTAL COST OF INEQUALITY. November, 72–77.

Eitzen, D. S. (2009). Sunset Trailer Park. Experiencing Poverty: Voices from the Bottom, 99–105.

Sociology: Comprehensive Edition. (2012). Sociology, 269–313.

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