Saturday, June 18, 2011

Review: Class Matters, by Correspondents of The New York Times

I stumbled across Class Matters several months ago and immediately picked it up, having read The New York Times' correspondents' collection How Race is Lived in America in college and remembering having loved it.  While it is one thing to talk about "race" and "class inequality" in broad, general terms, it is quite another to show stories of how these issues affect real peoples' lives every day.

Class Matters takes a look at the lines between social classes in America--while we like to think of ourselves as egalitarian and unaffected by the class issues that burden countries like India (where a strict caste system reigns supreme), we often overlook the distinct differences between the haves and have-nots.  Following in the footsteps of Jacob Riis and James Agee, Class Matters points out the differences between the medical care that the rich get vs the general lack of medical care that the poor get; it looks at how the middle class raise their children vs how the working class raise their children; and most importantly, it looks at how the division between these classes is far more firm than Americans are generally comfortable thinking about.

We love stories of rags-to-riches, of local boys and girls making good, but we should also remember that those stories are noteworthy because they are far less common than rags-to-rags, of people remaining in the class in which they were raised. 


CHE said...

sounds interesting. I think even in India the caste system is slowly being replaced by class/ financial bracket divides. I love the content on your blog BTW. new follower.

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

Oh, thank you! I try to get a mix of "serious" and "fun" stuff--seems like most blogs swing too far one way or the other for me most of the time.

And I think you're right about India--it's probably a global phenomenon in a lot of ways. That wouldn't be a problem if it weren't so difficult to move between one "class" and another.

Sarah said...

I read this book and lo-o-oved it! I read it along with a couple of others on similar topics: Snobbery: The American Version; and Class: A Guide Through the American Status System. All worthwhile, and ought to be required reading for folks in the U.S., many of whom seem to think that we live in a classless society. Great review!

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

Those sound awesome! They'll be perfect reading for me during the election next year to get my liberal ire all fired up haha

I think it's too easy to lose sight of the people (read: men, women, children--FAMILIES) when we're focused on statistics. Books like this help when we're talking about tax brackets and other political hot topics.

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