Fear of Falling: The Inner Life of the Middle Class by Barbara EhrenreichWhen I picked this up in the sale bin of East Ave books in Adelaide for $1 I was hoping to get insight into the surreal nightmare of the US’s current state. A better dollar I will never spend. It was published early 1990s, which was exactly what I wanted. I didn’t want a hindsight constructed narrative. Trump is no more than a casually mentioned billionaire of a type towards the end of Ehrenreich’s account of the middle class and its relationship to the other classes in the US during the course of the twentieth century. She explains the rise of the new Right in the US as well as the new Left. The book is highly readable whilst being dense; it’s both deeply and widely researched. I will be reading all her books. I think everybody should read this one.
The story she tells in this one is painful. She shows the rise of the middle-class, how they made themselves a financial and politically important group based on professionalising what they did and excluding others. She talks of its permanent insecurity as a consequence. Even though I’ve always known about it, her analysis of the exploitation of the educated youth and their university-student-led rebellion of the sixties and seventies when university students were actually mowed down by troops in the US was particularly illuminating and excruciatingly sad; staff in universities trying to protect their status from the questioning of the kids who were expected to work at derisory rates in their young professional years. Staff more or less on the side of the troops. None of this has changed, one might add. She documents the discovery by the middle class, to its great astonishment, that there were poor people in the US and she examines the way in which the middle class then set about categorising them and determining how to relate to them. She shows the fabulously patronising attitudes to those below them and the trouble it has ultimately caused.
By Barbara Ehrenreich. New York: Pantheon Books. I was a teen-age neoconservative. I came of age politically in the 's with a low tolerance for the foibles of my parents and an all-too-cool critique of the 's, especially of the decade's ''permissiveness. But in fact, as Barbara Ehrenreich's ''Fear of Falling'' makes clear, it defined my every thought. For me, not the least of this book's achievements is its explication of my peculiar coming of age.
New York: Pantheon Books, Nothing, perhaps, is as cumbersome for the sociologist as the middle class. It resists any easy reading because people constantly enter and move around inside it, as often as they become entrapped or leave. With such fluidity, its most conspicuous trait is a mercurial identity no other class possesses. The more we question this identity tbe more diffuse our thinking becomes. Do middle-class people share the same values?
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Overcoming the Fear of Falling
Minnesota Review. Nothing perhaps is as cumbersome for the sociologist to analyze as the middle class. It resists any easy reading because people constantly enter and move around inside it, as often as they become entrapped or leave. With such liquidity, its most conspicuous trait is a mercurial identity which no other class possesses. The more we question this identity the more divergent our thinking becomes. Do middle-class people share the same values? Do their cultural values outweigh economic ones?
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