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Class Matters

Times Books

The acclaimed New York Times series on social class in America--and its implications for the way we live our lives
We Americans have long thought of ourselves as unburdened by class distinctions. We have no hereditary aristocracy or landed gentry, and even the poorest among us feel that they can become rich through education, hard work, or sheer gumption. And yet social class remains a powerful force in American life.
In Class Matters, a team of New York Times reporters explores the ways in which class--defined as a combination of income, education, wealth, and occupation--influences destiny in a society that likes to think of itself as a land of opportunity. We meet individuals in Kentucky and Chicago who have used education to lift themselves out of poverty and others in Virginia and Washington whose lack of education holds them back. We meet an upper-middle-class family in Georgia who moves to a different town every few years, and the newly rich in Nantucket whose mega-mansions have driven out the longstanding residents. And we see how class disparities manifest themselves at the doctor's office and at the marriage altar.
For anyone concerned about the future of the American dream, Class Matters is truly essential reading.
"Class Matters is a beautifully reported, deeply disturbing, portrait of a society bent out of shape by harsh inequalities. Read it and see how you fit into the problem or--better yet--the solution!"
--Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch


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CLASS MATTERS (Chapter One)1. Shadowy Lines That Still Divide

Janny Scott and David Leonhardt

Four faces of social class in America today. Top, Erma Goulart, Mauric Mitchell. Bottom, Steve Schoenech, Barbara Freeborn. Their comments are on the page at left. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

There was a time when Americans thought they understood class. The upper crust vacationed in Europe and worshiped an Episcopal God. The middle class drove Ford Fairlanes, settled the San Fernando Valley and enlisted as company men. The working class belonged to the AFL-CIO, voted Democratic

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • The New York Times team comprises Anthony DePalma, Timothy Egan, Geraldine Fabrikant, Laurie Goodstein, David Cay Johnston, Peter T. Kilborn, David D. Kirkpatrick, David Leonhardt, Tamar Lewin, Charles McGrath, Janny Scott, Jennifer Steinhauer, and Isabel Wilkerson. Bill Keller is the executive editor of The New York Times.

    Class Matters also includes essays by Christopher Buckley, Diane McWhorter,
    Richard Price, David Levering Lewis, and Linda Chavez, about their encounters with class when they were growing up.

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