The acclaimed New York Times series on social class in America—and its implications for the way we live our lives We Americans have long thought of ourselves as unburdened by class distinctions. We have no hereditary aristocracy or landed gentry, and even the poorest among us feel that they can become rich through education, hard work, or sheer gumption. And yet social class remains a powerful force in American life. In Class Matters, a team of New York Times reporters explores the ways in which class—defined as a combination of income, education, wealth, and occupation—influences destiny in a society that likes to think of itself as a land of opportunity. We meet individuals in Kentucky and Chicago who have used education to lift themselves out of poverty and others in Virginia and Washington whose lack of education holds them back. We meet an upper-middle-class family in Georgia who moves to a different town every few years, and the newly rich in Nantucket whose mega-mansions have driven out the longstanding residents. And we see how class disparities manifest themselves at the doctor's office and at the marriage altar. For anyone concerned about the future of the American dream, Class Matters is truly essential reading. "Class Matters is a beautifully reported, deeply disturbing, portrait of a society bent out of shape by harsh inequalities. Read it and see how you fit into the problem or—better yet—the solution!"—Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch
As a category of historical analysis, class is dead—or so it has been reported over the past two decades. The contributors to Class Matters contest this demise. Although differing in their approaches, they all agree that socioeconomic inequality remains indispensable to a true understanding of the transition from the early modern to modern era in North America and the rest of the Atlantic world. As a whole, they chart the emergence of class as a concept and its subsequent loss of analytic purchase in Anglo-American historiography. The opening section considers the dynamics of class relations in the Atlantic world across the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—from Iroquoian and Algonquian communities in North America to tobacco lords in Glasgow. Subsequent chapters examine the cultural development of a new and aspirational middle class and its relationship to changing economic conditions and the articulation of corporate and industrial ideologies in the era of the American Revolution and beyond. A final section shifts the focus to the poor and vulnerable—tenant farmers, infant paupers, and the victims of capital punishment. In each case the authors describe how elite Americans exercised their political and social power to structure the lives and deaths of weaker members of their communities. An impassioned afterword urges class historians to take up the legacies of historical materialism. Engaging the difficulties and range of meanings of class, the essays in Class Matters seek to energize the study of social relations in the Atlantic world.
Drawing on both her roots in Kentucky and her adventures with Manhattan Coop boards, Where We Stand is a successful black woman's reflection--personal, straight forward, and rigorously honest--on how our dilemmas of class and race are intertwined, and how we can find ways to think beyond them.
A uniquely personal yet deeply informed exploration of the hidden history of class in American life From the decks of the Mayflower straight through to Donald Trump’s “American carnage,” class has always played a role in American life. In this remarkable work, Steve Fraser twines our nation’s past with his own family’s history, deftly illustrating how class matters precisely because Americans work so hard to pretend it doesn’t. He examines six signposts of American history—the settlements at Plymouth and Jamestown; the ratification of the Constitution; the Statue of Liberty; the cowboy; the “kitchen debate” between Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev; and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech—to explore just how pervasively class has shaped our national conversation. With a historian’s intellectual command and a riveting narrative voice, Fraser interweaves these examples with his own past—including his false arrest on charges of planning to blow up the Liberty Bell during the Civil Rights era—to tell a story both urgent and timeless.
Inequality and Exploitation in 21st Century Britain
Author: Charles Umney
Publisher: Pluto Press (UK)
Category: Social Science
Social class remains a fundamental presence in British life in the twenty-first century. It is woven into the very fabric of social and political discourse, undiminished by the end of mass industry; unaugmented despite the ascendancy of 'ordinary working people' and other substitute phrases. Absent from this landscape, however, is any compelling Marxist expression or analysis of class.In Class Matters, Charles Umney brings Marxist analysis out of the 19th century textiles mill, and into the call centres, office blocks and fast food chains of modern Britain. He shows how core Marxist concepts are vital to understanding increasing pay inequality, decreasing job security, increasing routinisation and managerial control of the labour process.Providing a critical analysis of competing perspectives, Umney argues that class must be understood as a dynamic and exploitative process integral to capitalism - rather than a descriptive categorisation - in order for us to better understand the gains capital has made at the expense of labour over the last four decades.