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Summary

Around the world, populist movements are gaining traction among the white working class. Meanwhile, members of the professional elite - journalists, managers, and establishment politicians - are on the outside looking in, left to argue over the reasons. In White Working Class, Joan C. Williams, described as having "something approaching rock star status" by the New York Times, explains why so much of the elite's analysis of the white working class is misguided, rooted in class cluelessness.

Williams explains that many people have conflated "working class" with "poor" - but the working class is, in fact, the elusive, purportedly disappearing middle class. They often resent the poor and the professionals alike. But they don't 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. While white working-class motivations are often dismissed as racist or xenophobic, Williams shows that they have their own class consciousness.

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

©2017 Joan C. Williams (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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  • Spirit
  • 22-01-18

An inside look into Progressive tribalism

Always wanted to know what Progressive elites thought of my family and my struggle. I'm a guy whom grew up in a broken home of alcoholism, domestic abuse and living paycheck to paycheck. My 20's and early 30's are filled with the same failures of my parents. The difference is I was trying to provide a better environment for my kids while learning the hard way. Now as they now reach 8 & 10 I have given up alcohol, gotten a bachelors degree and will have my MBA in 2 years. I'll be 40 by then. I'm now a "class migrant," and when I play down my working class heritage, I get to be part of some elite circles as an undercover deplorable soul.

The reason I overcame my parents failures is because of the majority of white working class homes I grew around had values I idolized. Strong families, strong faith, patriotism, good work ethic, & love of their neighbors. These families took me in as the neighborhood kid. They treated me so well, that I wanted to raise my family to be as beautiful as theirs.

This book was meant to educate those in the Progressive/Liberal elite circles about the alien culture of the white working class. Progressives are to digest the Calculus II level working class formula in this book to win back the votes and power for the next election cycle. The author seems sincere in her beliefs and has a dual allegiance to her elite circle & the ideals of equality for all. She really struggles with the level of tribalism, xenophobia & prejudice which exists in the progressive movement. Somehow she thinks she can separate the two, I wish her luck in that endeavor. I hope she can succeed, it would be good for us all.

Page after page is lined with examples of the pure prejudice and tribalism that exists in the progressive elite circles. Honestly, if you replaced "White Working Class" with the word "Negro," you would find that the core values of the people described in this book are exactly similar to the Klu Klux Klan southern democrats that existed last century. They are detached from American values and it astonishes me that they fear they cannot support minorities and the "white working class" together. They have been placing people into race & ethnic boxes for so long they cannot understand that the working class is near color blind. They kept their hateful class-warfare strategies of the segregationist/eugenics democrats of yesteryear, and just flipped the script. Now the "white working class" does not deserve to sit in CEO positions, they are not allowed into Yale and Harvard, they are shunned, despised, & mocked; most importantly, they are slandered. Thieves fear all people are thieves, progressive elites are casting their own distorted view of the world onto hard working Americans. Yes we are tribal, much like the elites, but our tribe is a hodgepodge of multicolored working class, tax paying Americans embracing the grind of getting by. They don't understand that those Americans are mostly colorblind, and all blue collar jobs prove this point. Our tribe does not include those who ignore our laws, those whom redistribute our wealth, those whom abuse our charity, and those whom judge us as immoral deplorable souls.

Our frustration is in those whom take our money (taxes), call it their own (government programs), and distribute it to not just those few facing rare debilitating hardships, but those who failed/refused to take accountability for their own lives. The government (and the author parrots this absurdity many times) robs the working class of their private property (money via taxes), then claims all the credit for providing trillions of dollars in welfare, even though the government didn't produce a single cent of that tax money. These fools believe this narrative, like blind lemmings falling off a cliff. My children were tens of thousands in debt before their first breath, just so the generations of adults before them could get some relief from the struggle we are supposed to overcome our damn selves.

But in a society of hundreds of millions, they can always find a few bad apples in my tribe and repost that story with all their elite media partners.

I don't need some elitist to tell me what is in my heart and what I do day to day. I share tears and stories with Americans every day in the hospital, I learn so much from every person that I meet and the children I care for. We are all beautiful. I am not evil for understanding their is a limit to charity and feeling that our system can barely support the needs of our own. I refuse to bankrupt my children's safety net of a strong economy. That is what I am fighting for, that is why I want to cut back handouts and illegal immigration. Because it threatens my family, I will never be so generous that I would feed a stranger my child's food. Yet you call me a racist for just being a protective father. In fact I will submit to you, that we can have a much more liberal immigration policy if we would just end handouts. But to have both, is an utter economic disaster.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Jill M
  • 19-01-18

So relevant

This subject is pivotal to understanding conflict in the professional issues of nurses in particular.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • LL
  • 04-12-17

Great book. Voice actor made it hard to follow.

I was sold on the book hearing the author speak on a podcast. However, the recording didn't do it justice. Had I not heard the author make the points, I think much would have gotten lost in the odd inflections and the fact that the voice didn't seem to understand that it was reading, and therefore the thoughts came out muddled.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tim Cecere
  • 14-11-17

Bait and Switch

Started out insightful and original in approach to the issues of gender, race, class etc. However slipped into same old cliche and unfortunate stereotypical thought streams as before. Had high hopes but fell short.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Lincoln Phillips
  • 01-08-17

Good ideas for the left

interesting perspective on the class devide in America. Don't agree with all of it. But every person on the left can benefit by giving it a chance.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • wbiro
  • 13-02-18

Braced for 3hrs of Anger at Over-Generalizations

To my pleasant surprise, I was not angered at the over-generalizations, I was fascinated by the over-generalizations. The author freely confessed her upper-crust New England upbringing, which fueled my fascination with her over-generalizations.

Interesting was her revealing a few of the 'non-written rules' at the elite level, such as "no brown in town". What she really revealed were the dictated over-generalizations and attitudes that are mandated for people who wish to be elite (such as referring to Middle America as "fly-over states" - how cool can you be?).

Being white working class, I immediately identified her errors - she knows nothing about working class environments - assuming they are all-white. I've NEVER seen one - in fact I've observed that the workplace is the true 'leveler' - meaning where true integration takes place. She said her publisher made her use the term 'white working class' over just 'working class', but this would not have affected her errors, and I would say 'naivety'.

She was on the mark about many commonly-held attitudes held by the elite and working class, though she did not have a clue as to why only 30-some percent of Americans have a college degree (she did not consider the people who simply would not look good in suits).

The author began to 'reach' when she got into politics, and more when describing Hillary (barf), and more when describing Limbaugh, and the most when she brought up Trump. I was reminded of mass media with an agenda.

To me, this was another interesting case study of continued universal human cluelessness, where none of the deficient mentalities described would exist in a universally-enlightened world (such as one based on my Philosophy of Broader Survival). But that is me. To you, it may be a mindless bash-fest.

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  • Rebecca
  • 12-02-18

Eye-opening! A must read!

This book was fascinating! It really made me think about my own class values and how they differ from others. It helped me see my own bias and how I was contributing to the devaluation of certain white worker class values. I'm going to recommend this to many of my friends. The narrator is great too.

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  • Terry
  • 08-02-18

A snob’s honest perspective with minor belittling.

A fair assessment on the working class and the Presidential election - with just enough snobbishness to make it uncomfortable.

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  • Sean M. Kosofsky
  • 16-11-17

Mind opening

it is very tempting to be a progressive political leader and write off concerns of Americans whom you believed to be backwards. But this book shows that a slight shift in perspective is all you need to understand the plight of working-class Americans who have very shared interests in the future America

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  • A. Landrum
  • 11-07-17

White Working Class

This book offers a thought provoking analysis of the 2016 election result. I agree with much of what the author has to say; however, I believe that a lack of knowledge in basic civics as well as significant misogyny in the general population played a major role in the result. This book is well worth the read in adding to an understanding of what happened.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful