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

White Working Class

Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America


Published: 1st June 2017
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Published: 16th May 2017
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It’s time to understand what so many people don’t get about the Working Class…

Around the world, populist movements are gaining traction among the white working class. Meanwhile, the professional elite journalists, managers, and establishment politicians is on the outside looking in, and left to argue over the reasons why. In White Working Class, Joan C. Williams, described as “something approaching rock star status” in her field by the New York Times, explains why so much of the elite’s analysis of the white working class is misguided, rooted in assumptions by what she has controversially coined “class cluelessness.”

Williams explains how most analysts, and the corresponding media coverage, have conflated “working class” with “poor.” All too often, white working class motivations have been dismissed as simply racism or xenophobia. Williams explains how the term “working class” has been misapplied it is, in fact, the elusive, purportedly disappearing middle class. This demographic often resents both the poor and the professionals. They don’t, however, tend to 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.

White Working Class is a blunt, bracing narrative that sketches a nuanced portrait of millions of people throughout the world who have proven to be a potent political force. For anyone stunned by the rise in 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.

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.

"her diagnosis of the problem is spot-on and consistently thought-provoking." -- Bloomberg View

"A wake-up call for the elite, as well as an analysis of the state of the world." -- Fly BMI

"One of the essential tomes of the Trump era." -- Financial Times

"White Working Class should be read by every mopey, whining, delusional Democrat still trying to figure out how the forecasters got the presidential election so wrong." -- Barron's

"Written like a Victorian explorer encountering unknown tribes on the Congo... [Williams] charts the origins of Trump's appeal." -- The Guardian

"One of the strengths of Williams's book is the author's willingness to call out such callousness and hypocrisy among her fellow travelers... a quick read and a good-faith effort at cultural and class introspection." -- The Washington Post

"Dr. Williams, distinguished law professor at the University of California, clearly explains 'why so much of the elite's analysis of the white working class is misguided, rooted in class cluelessness.'" -- Newsmax

"In her book, a readable volume of just 180 pages ... Williams tackles issues from working-class resentment of the poor and professionals, and apparently contradictory support of the rich, to how elites gain self-worth from merit while the working class gains self-worth from morality." -- The Australian

"This book aims to help American progressive forces better understand the white working class, so as to bring this group back into a broad democratic coalition. It is clearly and powerfully written and effective and is a must-read for everyone wanting to bridge the cultural silos that are now defining American politics." -- Michele Lamont, President of the American Sociological Association and author of The Dignity of Working Men

"Williams's principal point--that the privileged are too condescending toward the working class--is surely correct. Her book will help some professionals think twice about their attitudes and assumptions toward those who have less money or especially less education." -- The New York Review of Books

"My book of the week is White Working Class by Joan Williams, a very smart, caustic book that tries to understand the dynamic behind Donald Trump's legions of supporters. The author tries to explain to America's elites why the working class resents them, professionals, who tell them how to live, work, get educated, eat, dress and behave. It's tough love for a group that generally doesn't get much pushback." -- Fareed Zakaria, CNN

"American law professor Joan Williams has just written a powerful book dissecting these discontents, The White Working Class. Among her searing insights is that class consciousness on the left has been replaced by class cluelessness, even callousness." -- The Toronto Star

"The people Joan Williams describes are my people, for better or for worse...buy her book, White Working Class. It's very practical." -- Rod Dreher, The American Conservative

"Recommended reading: At least a dozen good books have come out on why the white working class turned so powerfully against Democrats.... The most insightful of these include Joan Williams' White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America ..." -- Robert Kuttner for NPR's Truth, Politics and Power

"Making an admirable and research-driven effort to see things from the point of view of her subject, author Williams unpacks exactly how the white working class (WWC) viewed the election, and how their history-making choice made a lot of sense given their concerns." -- New York Post

..".will undoubtedly be another best-selling book..." -- New York Magazine

"Joan C. Williams is on a post-Trump mission to explore the 'broken' relationship between America's liberal elite and the white working class" -- The Financial Times

Advance Praise for White Working Class

Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO, New America--
"Joan C. Williams has an uncanny knack for striking at the core of complicated issues, first gender and now class. No one should have an excuse for 'class cluelessness' after reading this book--and everyone should read it."

Arlie Russell Hochschild, Author, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right--
"Joan C. Williams has written an urgently needed Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus for the professional elite and the white working class, only better. Each chapter illuminates a core source of misunderstanding, and together they chart a way to bring the country together without abandoning the values of the minorities in the coalition. Read this highly important book and let's get to it."

Tony Schwartz, Author, The Way We're Working Isn't Working; CEO, The Energy Project--
"In this blunt, compelling, tightly argued manifesto, Joan C. Williams sets out to truly understand the white working class, whose raw anger was so evident during the recent presidential race. Williams provides deep insight into why the working class resents the nonworking poor, and often admires the very rich; feels treated unfairly by the government despite the services it provides; can't easily move to cities where there are more jobs; and feels increasingly demonized, displaced, and devalued by what she calls the 'professional managerial elite.' I felt shame and gratitude reading this book, and a new appreciation for the complexity of people's lives."

ISBN: 9781633693784
ISBN-10: 1633693783
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 192
Published: 1st June 2017
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.0 x 14.0  x 1.8
Weight (kg): 0.27