White Working Class

Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America
Narrated by: Liisa Ivary
Length: 3 hrs and 28 mins
Categories: Money & Finance, Economics
4.4 out of 5 stars (293 ratings)

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Publisher's 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.

What listeners say about White Working Class

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  • LL
  • 12-04-17

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.

2 people found this helpful

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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.

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Pathetically biased and deserving zero stars

The initial concept and information in this book was very well written and with great insight. once I reached ch 7 & 8, I regretted purchasing. the author went into basically saying that all whites are racist, and that Trump was racist. I would have recommended this book up until then. You CANNOT be one sided when there IS proof that other cultures can be racist too. Thought this was going to be a book with great insight, but just more divisive propaganda.

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So relevant

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

1 person found this helpful

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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.

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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Repetitive

While this book had excellent reviews I didn't like it. It had the same message over and over again. the "elites" and Democrats in general don't understand the white working class. If you already knew this, It's not much of a revelation to read this book even if it adds some interesting tidbits here and there. The more interesting part in the later chapters, I found, was that as self-described member of the "elite" the author acknowledges bigotism and racism from elites to "flyover states" and "rednecks" even while elites are strong advocates for minorities, LGBTQ, and suffering populations etc. The book makes note of this but doesn't probe this topic in detail.

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  • SD
  • 01-21-20

Started off good, but her elitism still makes her clueless no matter how much she tries.

She started the book off well but still reverted to the typical Trump hating elitism that I clueless about issues such as “Trump being racist” or “against immigrants”. She doesn’t even admit the fact that there is a difference between “illegal” and “legal”.

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Open-minded fiscal conservative

very well written and enlightening view that all should read to help recalibrate and better collaborate. Not a roadmap for Liberal Takeovers, but a better tool for both sides to remember we all share the same space and desire to serve. enlightening

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Comprehensive, direct, easily-applied information.

The author supports her simple break-down of the no-nonsense reality of the white working class with plenty of easy-to-follow statistics and makes good arguments based on her information. I didn't look at the time of the book when I read this, so I was disappointed by how short it was; the length reflects some of the detail, which I had anticipated more of based on the review that spurred me to make the purchase. The reader has good pace and speaks concisely, but has a horrible habit of making the same tonation and inflection at the end of her sentences, which was irritating. As I was still able to finish the reading without screaming, I don't think it was too bad, just very noticable. Overall recommend for some easy food-for-thought that a lot of people should eat.

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  • S. Sandhu
  • 04-14-19

Enlightening

At a personal level, I feel that knowing more about others enlightens us and makes us more aware of what others think and feel. In fact, knowing more about others would make this world a better place. I have a Pakistani Muslim background. Why would I want to know about the white working class? Well, because we owe it to each other to know each other more. Wouldn't society and the world be a better place? If the white working class feel they are being hard done by, we need to get to the bottom of why that is, and help them reclaim the self-respect and stability they desire. In fact, I would say this has to apply to all communities. All communities (no matter what class,creed,colour or religion) need to be understood. Everyone wants stability and security. In our so-called enlightened world, we know so little about each other. That strikes me as odd in a world where humanity assumes that it has advanced. Who or what is to blame? Media, policy makers, our own arrogance and self congratulatory world need a dose of humbleness and reflection. We have a long way to go. This book is a start.