How did non-elite survive?
How varied was the non-elite group?
Did it vary from region to region and between rural and urban?
How did elite and non-elite get along?
Were there privileges of whiteness to which all whites had access to?
There is less written about non-elite whites, but you should all try to read these items:
Charles C. Bolton, Poor whites of the antebellum South: tenants and labourers in central
North Carolina and northeast Mississippi
Stephanie McCurry, Masters of Small Worlds: yeoman households, gender relations, and the political culture of the antebellum
South Carolina lowcountry.
Susanna Delfino and Gillespie, Michele (eds), Neither lady nor slave: working women of the old south
E. Genovese, 'Yeoman farmers in a slaveholders democracy', Ag. Hist, XLIX, (1975), 331-342.
J. William Harris, Plain folk and gentry in a slave society
J. Wayne Flynt, Dixie's forgotten people: the South's poor whites.
Frank Lawrence Owsley, Plain folk of the old South.
Samuel Hyde (Ed), Plain Folk of the South Revisited