"During the nineteenth century, American and foreign travelers often found New Orleans a delightful, exotic stop on their journeys; few failed to marvel at the riverfront, the center of the city's economic activity. . . . But absent from the tourism industry's historical recollection is any reference to the immigrants or black migrants and their children who constituted the army of laborers along the riverfront and provided the essential human power to keep the cotton, sugar, and other goods flowing. . . . In examining one diverse group of workers--the 10,000 to 15,000 cotton screwmen, longshoremen, cotton and round freight teamsters, cotton yardmen, railroad freight handlers, and Mississippi River roustabouts--this book focuses primarily on the workplace and the labor movement that emerged along the waterfront."--From the preface
Eight of the last twelve presidents were millionaires when they took office. Millionaires have a majority on the Supreme Court, and they also make up majorities in Congress, where a background in business or law is the norm and the average member has spent less than two percent of his or her adult life in a working-class job. Why is it that most politicians in America are so much better off than the people who elect them— and does the social class divide between citizens and their representatives matter?
With White-Collar Government, Nicholas Carnes answers this question with a resounding—and disturbing—yes. Legislators’ socioeconomic backgrounds, he shows, have a profound impact on both how they view the issues and the choices they make in office. Scant representation from among the working class almost guarantees that the policymaking process will be skewed toward outcomes that favor the upper class. It matters that the wealthiest Americans set the tax rates for the wealthy, that white-collar professionals choose the minimum wage for blue-collar workers, and that people who have always had health insurance decide whether or not to help those without. And while there is no one cause for this crisis of representation, Carnes shows that the problem does not stem from a lack of qualified candidates from among the working class. The solution, he argues, must involve a variety of changes, from the equalization of campaign funding to a shift in the types of candidates the parties support.
If we want a government for the people, we have to start working toward a government that is truly by the people. White-Collar Government challenges long-held notions about the causes of political inequality in the United States and speaks to enduring questions about representation and political accountability.
The Wire: Race, Class, and Genre
Edited by Liam Kennedy and Stephen Shapiro University of Michigan Press, 2012 Library of Congress PN1992.77.W53W53 2012 | Dewey Decimal 791.456552
Few other television series have received as much academic, media, and fan celebration as The Wire, which has been called the best dramatic series ever created. The show depicts the conflict between Baltimore's police and criminals to raise a warning about race; drug war policing; deindustrialization; and the inadequacies of America’s civic, educational, and political institutions. The show's unflinching explorations of a city in crisis and its nuanced portrayals of those affected make it a show all about race and class in America.
The essays in this volume offer a range of astute critical responses to this television phenomenon. More consistently than any other crime show of its generation, The Wire challenges viewers' perceptions of the racialization of urban space and the media conventions that support this. The Wire reminds us of just how remarkably restricted the grammar of race is on American television and related media, and of the normative codings of race---as identity, as landscape---across urban narratives, from documentary to entertainment media.
Los Angeles is a city of delicate racial and ethnic balance. As evidenced by the 1965 Watts violence, the 1992 Rodney King riots, and this year's award-winning film Crash, the city's myriad racial groups coexist uneasily together, often on the brink of confrontation. In fact, Los Angeles is highly segregated, with racial and ethnic groups clustered in homogeneous neighborhoods. These residential groupings have profound effects on the economic well-being and quality of life of residents, dictating which jobs they can access, which social networks they can tap in to, and which schools they attend. In Won't You Be My Neighbor?, sociologist Camille Zubrinsky Charles explores how modern racial attitudes shape and are shaped by the places in which people live. Using in-depth survey data and information from focus groups with members of L.A.'s largest racial and ethnic groups, Won't You Be My Neighbor? explores why Los Angeles remains a segregated city. Charles finds that people of all backgrounds prefer both racial integration and a critical mass of same-race neighbors. When asked to reveal their preferred level of racial integration, people of all races show a clear and consistent order of preference, with whites considered the most highly desired neighbors and blacks the least desirable. This is even true among recent immigrants who have little experience with American race relations. Charles finds that these preferences, which are driven primarily by racial prejudice and minority-group fears of white hostility, taken together with financial considerations, strongly affect people's decisions about where they live. Still, Charles offers reasons for optimism: over time and with increased exposure to other racial and ethnic groups, people show an increased willingness to live with neighbors of other races. In a racially and ethnically diverse city, segregated neighborhoods can foster distrust, reinforce stereotypes, and agitate inter-group tensions. Won't You Be My Neighbor? zeroes in on segregated neighborhoods to provide a compelling examination of the way contemporary racial attitudes shape, and are shaped by, the places where we live.
Challenging the claim that workers supported Stalin's revolution "from above" as well as the assumption that working-class opposition to a workers' state was impossible, Jeffrey Rossman shows how a crucial segment of the Soviet population opposed the authorities during the critical industrializing period of the First Five-Year Plan.
This collection of essays examines the relationship between environmental injustice and the exploitation of working-class people. Twelve scholars from the fields of environmental humanities and the humanistic social sciences explore connections between the current and unprecedented rise of environmental degradation, economic inequality, and widespread social injustice in the United States and Canada.
The authors challenge prevailing cultural narratives that separate ecological and human health from the impacts of modern industrial capitalism. Essay themes range from how human survival is linked to nature to how the use and abuse of nature benefit the wealthy elite at the expense of working-class people and the working poor as well as how climate change will affect cultures deeply rooted in the land.
Ultimately, Working on Earth calls for a working-class ecology as an integral part of achieving just and sustainable human development.
Why have some working women succeeded at organizing in spite of obstacles to labor activity? Under what circumstances were they able to form alliances with male workers? Carole Turbin explores these and other questions by examining the case of Troy, New York, which in the 1860s produced nearly all the nation's detachable shirt collars and cuffs. Troy's collar laundresses were largely Irish immigrants; their union was officially the nation's first women's labor organization, and one of the best organized. Turbin's study develops new perspectives on gender and shows that women's family ties are not necessarily a conservative influence but may encourage women's and men's collective action.
"By going 'beyond the conventional wisdom' about gender, class, and ethnicity, [Turbin] has found ways to tell us more about the nineteenth-century collar workers of Troy than we possibly could have imagined discovering a decade ago." -- Choice
In the United States, perhaps no minority group is considered as "model" or successful as the Asian American community. Rather than living in ominous "ghettoes," Asian Americans are described as residing in positive-sounding "ethnic enclaves." Writing the Ghetto helps clarify the hidden or unspoken class inequalities faced by Asian Americans, while insightfully analyzing the effect such notions have had on their literary voices.
Yoonmee Chang examines the class structure of Chinatowns, Koreatowns, Little Tokyos, and Little Indias, arguing that ghettoization in these spaces is disguised. She maintains that Asian American literature both contributes to and challenges this masking through its marginalization by what she calls the "ethnographic imperative." Chang discusses texts from the late nineteenth century to the present, including those of Sui Sin Far, Winnifred Eaton, Monica Sone, Fae Myenne Ng, Chang-rae Lee, S. Mitra Kalita, and Nam Le. These texts are situated in the contexts of the Chinese Exclusion Era, Japanese American internment during World War II, the globalization of Chinatown in the late twentieth century, the Vietnam War, the 1992 Los Angeles riots, and the contemporary emergence of the "ethnoburb."