White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America

White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America

by Joan C. Williams

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White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America by Joan C. Williams

"I recommend a book by Professor Williams, it is really worth a read, it's called White Working Class." -- Vice President Joe Biden on Pod Save America

An Amazon Best Business and Leadership book of 2017

Around the world, populist movements are gaining traction among the white working class. Meanwhile, members of the professional elite—journalists, managers, and establishment politicians--are on the outside looking in, left to argue over the reasons. In White Working Class, Joan C. Williams, described as having "something approaching rock star status" by the New York Times, explains why so much of the elite's analysis of the white working class is misguided, rooted in class cluelessness.

Williams explains that many people have conflated "working class" with "poor"--but the working class is, in fact, the elusive, purportedly disappearing middle class. They often resent the poor and the professionals alike. But they don't resent the truly rich, nor are they particularly bothered by income inequality. Their dream is not to join the upper middle class, with its different culture, but to stay true to their own values in their own communities--just with more money. While white working-class motivations are often dismissed as racist or xenophobic, Williams shows that they have their own class consciousness.

White Working Class is a blunt, bracing narrative that sketches a nuanced portrait of millions of people who have proven to be a potent political force. For anyone stunned by the rise of populist, nationalist movements, wondering why so many would seemingly vote against their own economic interests, or simply feeling like a stranger in their own country, White Working Class will be a convincing primer on how to connect with a crucial set of workers--and voters.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781633693791
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
Publication date: 05/16/2017
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 120,951
File size: 400 KB

About the Author

Joan C. Williams is Distinguished Professor of Law and Hastings Foundation Chair at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Williams’s work includes What Works for Women at Work, coauthored with Rachel Dempsey (New York University Press, 2014); Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What To Do About It (Oxford University Press, 2000); and such widely read reports as “The Three Faces of Work-Family Conflict,” coauthored with Heather Boushey. Williams is frequently featured as an expert on social class. For more information, visit JoanCWilliams.com.

Table of Contents

1 Why Talk About Class? 1

2 Who Is the Working Class? 9

3 Why Does the Working Class Resent the Poor? 13

4 Why Does the Working Class Resent Professionals But Admire the Rich? 25

5 Why Doesn't the Working Class Just Move to Where the Jobs Are? 35

6 Why Doesn't the Working Class Get with It and Go to College? 43

7 Why Don't They Push Their Kids Harder to Succeed? 53

8 Is the Working Class Just Racist? 59

9 Is the Working Class Just Sexist? 73

10 Don't They Understand that Manufacturing Jobs Aren't Coming Back? 83

11 Why Don't Working-Class Men Just Take "Pink-Collar" Jobs? 91

12 Why Don't the People Who Benefit Most from Government Help Seem to Appreciate It? 97

13 Can Liberals Embrace the White Working Class without Abandoning Important Values and Allies? 109

14 Why Are Democrats Worse at Connecting with the White Working Class than Republicans? 121

Conclusion 129

Acknowledgments 133

Notes 135

Additional Reading 161

Index 163

About the Author 179

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White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
bonnhous More than 1 year ago
This book caught my eye at the university library where I am an undergrad Women's Studies major. Far from elite, I am now almost 60 years old and can now finally afford the time and expense of college. We need to talk more about class in this country because we do still have choices, for now. This book teaches us how to think about our leaders and about why we choose them. It offers modern language and examples that are easy to understand. The author deserves applause for her courage and this clear-headed work.
pandabearCM More than 1 year ago
I agree with the author that social class divide is a major issue. Since the Great Recession many white families are hurting but the so-called liberal establishment ignores them. One of the origins of this country were white Europeans fleeing the class-prejudices of the other white Europeans. This book is written in an academic style but quite readable(sometimes I find books written by academics less readable than other writers). I found both repelling and interesting the author's own elitism and her descriptions of the elite. It validated something that I have long suspected, that many "elite" don't value morality but put a premium on getting ahead which sometimes, in my opinion, leads to them being unethical. (I think it is the sign of our times that the author herself openly and anthropologically called herself an elite. I remember in the nineteen sixties and seventies most people-even wealthy ones identified with the "common" man. It was fashionable to say you were from an oppressed group. Furthermore, the elites weren't academics but rich business people.) However, the author does a good job of describing the problems of the working class. She also not afraid to take on elites who criticize the "working class" for having certain attitudes/prejudices but really having many of the same beliefs themselves but know how to hide it. I agree with the author that we all deserve the respect for the work we do and we need people who can do all kinds of labor(one joke from the Occupy movement that I like goes "How many CEOs does it take to change a light bulb? the answer is none-it takes workers”). My one criticism of the book is that it divides people into two class-The Professional Managerial Elite(PMEs) and the working class which is mostly manual labor. There is a large group of people who fall neither groups and I consider myself an example of one. I am a college graduate(from a seven sisters school no less) and come from a family of academics and doctors. I like learning and have worked for most of my life but I am proud not to be a PME. By the definition of this book, I would fit in more closely with the working class. Despite these problems, the book provides much insight into the problems that divide white America and is a good read. I received a free copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.