In this book, Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas explores how Puerto Ricans in Chicago construct and perform nationalism. Contrary to characterizations of nationalism as a primarily unifying force, Ramos-Zayas finds that it actually provides the vocabulary to highlight distinctions along class, gender, racial, and generational lines among Puerto Ricans, as well as between Puerto Ricans and other Latino, black, and white populations.
Drawing on extensive ethnographic research, Ramos-Zayas shows how the performance of Puerto Rican nationalism in Chicago serves as a critique of social inequality, colonialism, and imperialism, allowing barrio residents and others to challenge the notion that upward social mobility is equally available to all Americans—or all Puerto Ricans. Paradoxically, however, these activists' efforts also promote upward social mobility, overturning previous notions that resentment and marginalization are the main results of nationalist strategies.
Ramos-Zayas's groundbreaking work allows her here to offer one of the most original and complex analyses of contemporary nationalism and Latino identity in the United States.
The 1965 Immigration Act altered the lives and outlook of Chinese Americans in fundamental ways. The New Chinese America explores the historical, economic, and social foundations of the Chinese American community, in order to reveal the emergence of a new social hierarchy after 1965.
In this detailed and comprehensive study of contemporary Chinese America, Xiaojian Zhao uses class analysis to illuminate the difficulties of everyday survival for poor and undocumented immigrants and analyzes the process through which social mobility occurs. Through ethnic ties, Chinese Americans have built an economy of their own in which entrepreneurs can maintain a competitive edge given their access to low-cost labor; workers who are shut out of the mainstream job market can find work and make a living; and consumers can enjoy high quality services at a great bargain. While the growth of the ethnic economy enhances ethnic bonds by increasing mutual dependencies among different groups of Chinese Americans, it also determines the limits of possibility for various individuals depending on their socioeconomic and immigration status.
Pioneering anthropologist Sherry B. Ortner is renowned for her work on the Sherpas of Nepal. Now she turns her attention homeward to examine how social class is lived in the United States and, specifically, within her own peer group. In New Jersey Dreaming, Ortner returns to her Newark roots to present an in-depth look at Weequahic High School's Class of 1958, of which she was a member. She explores her classmates’ recollected experiences of the neighborhood and the high school, also written about in the novels of Philip Roth, Weequahic High School’s most famous alum. Ortner provides a chronicle of the journey of her classmates from the 1950s into the 1990s, following the movement of a striking number of them from modest working- and middle-class backgrounds into the wealthy upper-middle or professional/managerial class.
Ortner tracked down nearly all 304 of her classmates. She interviewedabout 100 in person and spoke with most of the rest by phone, recording her classmates’ vivid memories of time, place, and identity. Ortner shows how social class affected people’s livesin many hidden and unexamined ways. She also demonstrates that the Class of ‘58’s extreme upward mobility must be understood in relation to the major identity movements of the twentieth century—the campaign against anti-Semitism, the Civil Rights movement, and feminism.
A multisited study combining field research with an interdisciplinary analytical framework, New Jersey Dreaming is a masterly integration of developments at the vanguard of contemporary anthropology. Engaging excerpts from Ortner's field notes are interspersed throughout the book. Whether recording the difficulties and pleasures of studying one's own peer group, the cultures of driving in different parts of the country, or the contrasting experiences of appointment-making in Los Angeles and New York, they provide a rare glimpse into the actual doing of ethnographic research.
As the recession worsens, more and more Americans must turn to welfare to make ends meet. Once inside the agency, the newly jobless will face a bureaucracy that has undergone massive change since the advent of welfare reform in 1996. A behind-the-scenes look at bureaucracy’s human face, The New Welfare Bureaucrats is a compelling study of welfare officers and how they navigate the increasingly tangled political and emotional terrain of their jobs.
Celeste Watkins-Hayes here reveals how welfare reform engendered a shift in focus for caseworkers from simply providing monetary aid to the much more complex process of helping recipients find work. Now both more intimately involved in their clients’ lives and wielding greater power over their well-being, welfare officers’ racial, class, and professional identities have become increasingly important factors in their work. Based on the author’s extensive fieldwork in two very different communities in the northeast, The New Welfare Bureaucrats is a boon to anyone looking to understand the impact of the institutional and policy changes wrought by welfare reform as well as the subtle social dynamics that shape the way welfare is meted out at the individual level.
No Home for You Here is a memoir of a life lived in the shadow of Ronald Reagan. Raised in rural Ohio, Adam Theron-Lee Rensch tells the story of a millennial trying—and failing—to leave behind the shame of growing up poor in the middle of nowhere. Interweaving personal narrative and political criticism with recent social and political history, No Home for You Here shows how the interrelationship of class, culture, and identity stifles working-class solidarity by constructing an imagined cultural divide that those in power use to maintain the status quo. With one foot on each side of this division, Rensch moves between the flat horizon of the Midwest and the densely populated streets of the city, bearing witness to the tragic effects of a precarious free-market economy on family and friends. Rather than wallowing in despair, however, No Home for You Here is a timely, passionate call for class consciousness in an era of economic crisis and staggering inequality.
In recent years U.S. public policy has focused on strengthening the nuclear family as a primary strategy for improving the lives of America's youth. It is often assumed that this normative type of family is an independent, self-sufficient unit adequate for raising children. But half of all households in the United States with young children have two employed parents. How do working parents provide care and mobilize the help that they need?
In Not-So-Nuclear Families: Class, Gender, and Networks of Care, Karen V. Hansen investigates the lives of working parents and the informal networks they construct to help care for their children. She chronicles the conflicts, hardships, and triumphs of four families of various social classes. Each must navigate the ideology that mandates that parents, mothers in particular, rear their own children, in the face of an economic reality that requires that parents rely on the help of others. In vivid family stories, parents detail how they and their networks of friends, paid caregivers, and extended kin collectively close the "care gap" for their school-aged children.
Hansen not only debunks the myth that families in the United States are independent, isolated, and self-reliant units, she breaks new theoretical ground by asserting that informal networks of care can potentially provide unique and valuable bonds that nuclear families cannot.