Re: [xmca] article on social class

From: Peter Smagorinsky (
Date: Sat May 06 2006 - 08:18:47 PDT

for school-based people, I think that Eckert's Jocks and Burnouts is
terrific, even if my students sometimes find it dated. p
At 07:29 AM 5/6/2006 -0700, you wrote:
>Thank you for putting the issue of class back before us, Steve.
>Contemporary confusions over the concept of class are sure evident in
>the review which I assume reflect the fuziness or unclarity in the books
>Suppose you had one, accessible, book to recommend to xmca'ites about
>how to think about social class in the contemporary world, perhaps one that
>included people's relations to the means of production. What would you
>On 5/5/06, Steve Gabosch <> wrote:
>>I thought this review of books on class might be
>>of interest to some. The first book reviewed is
>>a compilation of articles on social class
>>published in the New York Times last year.
>>I don't happen to agree with the reviewers
>>conclusions about class, but I find some of his
>>observations and criticisms stimulating for further thought and research.
>>- Steve
>>Final paragraph of the review:
>>"Does it enhance our understanding to look for
>>classes in America? As has been seen, any group
>>we choose to call the "middle class" is so large
>>as to be of little analytical help. Nor do the
>>huge majority who are not rich qualify as a
>>class. Moreover, there remains a very well-paid
>>tier of corporate executives between them and the
>>truly rich. Yet, along with the increased
>>concentration of wealth, we are seeing millions
>>of Americans being laid off, settling for lower
>>paying jobs, losing health coverage, and watching
>>pensions evaporate. Economic inequality is
>>increasing, just as the millions who are born and
>>stay poor are not getting anything like a fair
>>chance to improve their situation. Victims of
>>outsourcing don't fit into a single class, nor do
>>the people who suffer most from living in a
>>society that is increasingly unequal and unjust.
>>To see these trends as matters of class does not
>>explain them. What is clear is that we have yet
>>to see any convincing ways of reversing them."
>>The New York Review of Books
>>Volume 53, Number 9 · May 25, 2006
>>The Rich and Everyone Else
>>By Andrew Hacker
>>Class Matters
>>by correspondents of The New York Times, with an introduction by Bill
>>Times Books, 268 pp., $14.00 (paper)
>>Inequality Matters: The Growing Economic Divide
>>in America and Its Poisonous Consequences
>>edited by James Lardner and David A. Smith
>>Demos/New Press, 328 pp., $25.95
>>The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and
>>Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton
>>by Jerome Karabel
>>Houghton Mifflin, 711 pp., $28.00
>>Forbes 400: The Richest People in America
>>2005 Edition, 344 pp., $5.99
>>Individual Income Tax Returns
>>Internal Revenue Service, Publication 1304; available at
>>In their own ways, three of the books under
>>review­Class Matters, Inequality Matters, and The
>>Chosen­warn that social barriers in the US are
>>higher and economic inequality is more pronounced
>>than at any time in recent memory. All three
>>books also frame this issue by asserting or
>>implying that lines between classes are
>>hardening. While the term is widely used, class
>>has always resisted clear definition. We may talk
>>of the rich and poor, of people in the middle, of
>>blue- and white-collar workers, of haves and
>>have-nots, yet attempts to place most people in
>>an appropriate class have never been successful.
>>There is no clear agreement on the number of
>>classes, and how they should be defined. Indeed,
>>attempts at precision inevitably create problems.
>>For example, a 2004 study by the Annenberg Center
>>at the University of Pennsylvania defined the
>>middle class as everyone with incomes between
>>$25,000 and $75,000.[1] They make up half of all
>>households, and include all families on both
>>sides of the median family income of
>>approximately $50,000. But has a family making,
>>say, $28,000 really reached the middle class? One
>>with $95,000 might be called upper middle class;
>>but that would still seem to locate it in the
>>middle. Any attempt to set a floor or ceiling is
>>bound to raise questions like these.
>>In Inequality Matters, James Lardner speaks of
>>America's "growing class divide." Yet he never
>>identifies the classes that are being divided. If
>>he means, as I think he does, those who are
>>well-to-do and those who are not, then who and
>>how many are in each group? The IRS reports, for
>>example, that 356,140 taxpayers declared incomes
>>of between $500,000 and $999,999 on their 2003
>>returns. Where should someone receiving, say, a
>>$650,000 salary be assigned? Earning $12,500 a
>>week before taxes should provide a lawyer a
>>comfortable living, but does it place her with
>>the rich? Then what about her nonworking cousin,
>>who happens to have exactly the same income, but
>>in his case it consists of the proceeds from a $12 million inheritance?
>>Problems like these are evident very early in
>>Class Matters, which republishes a series of
>>fourteen articles that appeared in The New York
>>Times last year. They report on a broad range of
>>men and women who were willing to talk candidly
>>about themselves. We meet old and new
>>millionaires on Nantucket, a laid-off manager and
>>another who fears he may be fired, and a Chicago
>>mother of five pulling herself out of poverty. No
>>claims are made that they are a cross-section or
>>random sample of Americans. Still, we are
>>introduced to people most Times readers would
>>probably never meet. Apart from the few at the
>>top and the bottom, the reporters do not try to
>>identify their subjects by class. Even so, the
>>book shows how the lives they lead are shaped by where they stand in
>>The opening chapter skirts the issue by saying
>>"class is rank, it is tribe, it is culture and
>>taste." Class is said to be expressed in varying
>>"attitudes and assumptions," and there are
>>"dozens of microclasses, defined by occupations
>>or lifestyles." America's class system, insofar
>>as it has one, is a "ladder with lots and lots of
>>rungs." Here alone, I count nine words that
>>supposedly define class, and we haven't even got
>>to income, wealth, or power. Elsewhere, we hear
>>that class produces "different views of gift
>>giving, vacations, food, child rearing." Yet
>>another chapter observes that we can no longer
>>use dress to tell where people stand, since nearly everyone wears jeans.
>>While I find that assigning Americans to classes
>>occasionally makes sense, other classifications
>>often are more informative. For example, the gap
>>between the rich and everyone else isn't
>>necessarily a class divide. And while we may talk
>>about a middle class, or a working class, these
>>strike me more as phrases people use casually in
>>conversation then as rigorous categories. Thus we
>>may hear debates over whether a truckdriver and a
>>college librarian who both earn $65,000 should be put in the same class.
>>In Inequality Matters, a collection of excellent
>>papers from a conference held at New York
>>University in 2004, a recurring thesis is that
>>the welfare state has been turned on its head.
>>Indeed, the meaning of the term "redistribution"
>>has changed. It used to mean taxing the
>>better-off to assist society's less fortunate.
>>Today the flow is in the reverse direction. David
>>Williams and James Lardner, writing on health,
>>show how Medicare beneficiaries get better
>>treatment than those on Medicaid, for example.
>>Tamara Draut reveals that more subsidized
>>financial aid now goes to suburban students who
>>can afford expensive SAT courses. And David Cay
>>Johnston shows how tax rates have been lowered
>>even for families with incomes of $200 million.
>>For Bill Moyers, the central fact of our time is
>>"a gap between rich and poor that is greater than
>>it has been in half a century."
>>There is no question that the rich have been
>>getting richer, especially in recent years. Yet
>>what wasn't generally predicted is that the
>>numbers of such people have been growing, with
>>more of them better-off than in the recent past.
>>Table A draws on several sources that highlight
>>these changes. The most recent figures are from
>>2003 through 2005, and can be compared with similar data from the early
>>More Billionaires. Each year, Forbes magazine
>>lists the men and women it identifies as the 400
>>richest Americans. While no one can say for sure
>>who has how much, Forbes has reliable informants
>>and its estimates have a plausible ring. To get
>>on its first list, which came out in 1982, one
>>needed the equivalent of $200 million in current
>>dollars. By 2005, it took $900 million to be
>>listed, more than a fourfold increase. Thanks to
>>this higher standard, only forty-five on the
>>original list would have made its latest version.
>>The late Daniel Ludwig, a shipping magnate, led
>>in 1982 with $4 billion, again in today's
>>dollars. Last year, Bill Gates was first, with
>>$51 billion. Following him, there are another
>>forty-nine men and women who surpass the wealth
>>once amassed by Mr. Ludwig. It is easier to
>>become a billionaire in an era of hedge funds and
>>leveraged buyouts, while the founders of
>>electronics industries like Oracle, Google, and
>>Dell have become as rich as a Carnegie or a
>>Rockefeller in a fraction of the time.
>>More Millionaires. The Internal Revenue Service
>>issues reports showing how much taxpayers declare
>>as their annual income. These sums are
>>undoubtedly on the modest side, since they show
>>only what people choose to disclose, while much
>>of high-bracket income may be sheltered. Even so,
>>between 1981 and 2003, and adjusting for
>>inflation, the annual returns exceeding $1
>>million rose more than sevenfold as a proportion
>>of all 1040s. In 2003, the latest IRS figures,
>>fully 181,282 households admitted to making more
>>than $1 million a year, averaging $2,951,369.
>>Their share of all taxpayers' income has also
>>increased seven times since 1981, which must mean
>>the share going to the rest has declined. While
>>most millionaires list some kind of business or
>>professional income, these earnings amount to
>>only a third of their total. Much of their money
>>comes from inheritance and sales of property,
>>including stocks and bonds. Almost all are safely
>>rich, whether by their own efforts or
>>inheritance, in that they have enough to continue
>>to live well even without working.
>>Six-Figure Families. Each March, the Census
>>releases a report on the distribution of personal
>>income. In its 1982 survey, only 3 percent of all
>>families had incomes over $150,000, computed in
>>today's dollars. By 2004, its latest report, 8
>>percent of households had reached that level, and
>>most of those households have one earner making
>>at least $100,000. This group now absorbs 27
>>percent of aggregate personal income, against 11
>>percent in 1982. So as matters stand, the other
>>92 percent of Americans receive 73 percent of the
>>pie. This upward flow of money is only partly the
>>result of tax cuts bestowed on the better-off.
>>More important is the fact that executives and
>>professionals are being given salaries, bonuses,
>>and other forms of compensation that are much more lavish than in the
>>To return to the 400 richest Americans, perhaps
>>the most salient feature of the Forbes list is
>>its changing membership. At death, fortunes tend
>>to be divided, and most descendants don't inherit
>>enough to stay on the list. While the current 400
>>includes members of the Pritzker, Hearst, and
>>Walton families, they already have fifty-nine
>>children, most of whom will end up rich but much
>>less so than their parents. Back in 1982, the
>>list had thirteen Rockefellers and no fewer than
>>thirty-three du Ponts. By 2005, only two
>>Rockefellers remained, and all the du Ponts were
>>gone. Indeed, 1982 and 2005 come across as very
>>different eras. The earlier year was strong on
>>family scions; most of the places they once held
>>are now occupied by self-made men and women,
>>among them Oprah Winfrey, Margaret Whitman, and Martha Stewart.
>>To call the rich an "upper class" only tells us
>>that they have the most money, not about the
>>power they have, or their social influence. But
>>when it comes to the particulars, there are not
>>many signs that they share any traits other than
>>their money. "Rich individuals have no feelings
>>or purposes in common, no mutual traditions or
>>hopes," Alexis de Tocqueville observed of
>>Jacksonian America. "Though there are rich men,
>>the class of rich men does not exist." At this
>>point, we lack firm information on how much the
>>very rich are giving back to society. In overall
>>terms, the IRS reports that the 5,955 richest
>>taxpayers, whose annual incomes average $26.2
>>million, gave away a deductible 6.7 percent of
>>what they declared. Just how much more comes from
>>the thousands of family foundations is hard to
>>determine, since no one collates their annual
>>reports. At the same time, such high-tech
>>entrepreneurs as David Packard, William Hewlett,
>>and Michael Dell have become important supporters
>>of museums, orchestras, and a host of other
>>causes. The fund created by Bill and Melinda
>>Gates now gives away twice as much as Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford
>>Even as the relatively small group of rich people
>>is getting richer, Class Matters asserts that
>>social mobility in America has "flattened out,"
>>"stagnated," or even "declined" in recent years.
>>A chapter called "Fifteen Years on the Bottom
>>Rung," describes an immigrant mired in a mundane
>>job. Another, "No Degree, and No Way Back to the
>>Middle," tells of a laid-off manager whose
>>résumés are returned because he doesn't have a
>>college degree. Reports like these are by no
>>means rare. Still, we should ask if they reflect a growing trend.
>>How many people are moving upward, compared with
>>some periods in the past? In the decades
>>following World War II, millions of families
>>bought suburban homes and embarked on new lives.
>>Between 1953 and 1973, median income in constant
>>dollars grew by a remarkable 75 percent. For most
>>who gained, this was not the result of intense
>>personal struggle. It was more as if the growing
>>economy was a giant escalator lifting everyone
>>upward. A parallel trend in higher education came
>>with the GI Bill after World War II and continues
>>apace as more Americans graduate from college
>>each year. Among men and women in their early
>>thirties, 32 percent now have a bachelor's degree
>>or better, compared with 25 percent in 1980 and
>>14 percent in 1970. These changes mean that
>>millions of young people are moving past their
>>par-ents, at least as measured by higher education.
>>But other indices suggest that the postwar
>>escalator has not been moving for quite a while.
>>Between 1982 and 2004, median earnings of fully
>>employed men grew by only 2.7 percent, which is
>>about as close to stagnation as one can get for a
>>twenty-two-year period. At the same time, women's
>>earnings rose by 25 percent, from 63 percent to
>>77 percent of what men made. So if men as a group
>>weren't moving up, a lot of women were. This had
>>an impact on family income. Between 1982 and
>>2004, family median incomes increased from
>>$43,913 to $54,061, a 23 percent increase in real
>>dollars, and at first glance a heartening sign.
>>But this growth was almost entirely the result of
>>the presence of additional earners, with more
>>wives turning to full-time work and contributing
>>more to the family total. In contrast, the median
>>income in families with a single breadwinner rose
>>only 6 percent in this period. So the rise in
>>family income of 23 percent came mainly from more
>>work by more members, the equivalent of running faster to keep in place.
>>True, median incomes only tell us about the
>>persons or families who happen to fall in the
>>exact middle. Even so, they remind us that when
>>the median barely improves, it means that for
>>most people who move ahead­and some plainly
>>have­there will be someone else who is falling
>>behind. As was noted earlier, from 1982 to 2004,
>>the fraction of families that rose to the
>>$150,000 tier grew almost threefold. Their
>>progress had to be paid for. And it was, by
>>households whose earnings declined. Among them
>>are the growing number of single mothers, who
>>tend to cluster at the bottom of the income
>>pyramid (median income: $23,428), whereas earlier
>>many of them would still be in two-spouse households (median: $50,867).
>>Mobility may also be analyzed by examining what
>>happens to specific men and women in the course
>>of their lives. One method draws on a sample of
>>parents and then keeps in touch with them until
>>their children have become adults. The best such
>>study I have seen was published last year by Tom
>>Hertz, an economist at American University, who
>>draws on a database that has tracked 6,273
>>families over thirty-two years.[2] As can be seen
>>in Table B, he compares the parents' economic
>>standing when the children were growing up with
>>how those offspring have fared on their own.
>>Hertz found, as might be expected, that many of
>>the children raised in the top fifth­some 38
>>percent­are still up there as adults, and the
>>same holds for many raised at the bottom. Yet of
>>those who began at the bottom, 58 percent climbed
>>up at least one tier and 34 percent moved up two
>>or more tiers. Since we know that few from the
>>bottom fifth get college degrees, it is striking
>>that as many as 18 percent of them end up in the
>>top two fifths. As for the children of the
>>best-off households: fully 62 percent of them
>>moved down, despite the advantages they had in their formative years.
>>A story in Class Matters hints at a downward
>>future. In a socially mixed marriage, the mother
>>has a sizable trust fund and her new husband was
>>selling cars when they met. One of her own sons,
>>who has dropped in and out of college,
>>"fantasizes about opening a
>>brewery-cum-performance-space, traveling through
>>South America, or operating a sunset massage
>>cruise." However, he won't have an independent
>>income until his mother dies, and then there's a
>>brother to split the bequests in the will. Unless
>>he has talents that aren't now apparent, it seems
>>likely he will have a lower living standard as an adult than he did as a
>>Using quintiles to track mobility also means, as
>>we have seen, that if someone new moves into the
>>top fifth, another person has to go down.
>>Therefore, Hertz is not only telling us how many
>>offspring have surpassed or fallen behind their
>>parents. In his overall analysis, for every
>>winner there is another loser. This also holds
>>for the Forbes list, since no more than 400 can
>>make the grade. Last year, there were forty-one
>>newcomers, displacing thirty-three whose net
>>worth didn't keep up, plus another eight who
>>died. By other measures, the increasing income of
>>one family doesn't mean the decline of another.
>>Still, as was seen, the $1 million tier is
>>getting rather crowded. In some circles now,
>>you're not really up there if you can't declare
>>$10 million a year (as 6,126 households did in 2003).
>>"In today's United States," Tamara Draut writes
>>in Inequality Matters, "a four-year degree has
>>become the all-but-official ticket to
>>middle-class security." As the four medians in
>>Table C show, each academic rung brings higher
>>pay. But medians (and averages) often mix
>>together people with varied characteristics. For
>>this reason, the table, by focusing on a more
>>homogeneous group­in this case white men who are
>>currently between the ages of forty-five and
>>fifty-four­ avoids disparities resulting from sex
>>and race and age. This group was also chosen
>>because most of them have been employed for
>>twenty to thirty years, so that we can compare
>>their current status with the educational level
>>they attained a generation earlier.
>>If college graduates are more apt to get better
>>first jobs, it is because established businesses
>>and professions have grown accustomed to asking
>>for degrees, which is also a convenient culling
>>device. (The dot-com world has shown that such
>>rules can profitably be broken, especially for
>>first-rate programmers.) But a first job, while
>>often important, is only a step in a career.
>>According to all the evidence I have seen,
>>promotions will soon be tied to performance, not
>>on whether the candidate once took Anthropology
>>101. Still, the table confirms that many men who
>>are only high school graduates end up in the
>>bottom income third, which is probably where they started.
>>But I find it even more significant that more
>>than half of them have moved into the top two
>>thirds, with 17 percent now in the tier where
>>college graduates are expected to end up. On the
>>other hand, of these men in their forties and
>>fifties, 46 percent with bachelors' degrees and
>>31 percent with graduate degrees haven't made it
>>to the top third. Table B, which traced how
>>children ended up, showed considerable downward
>>mobility. Table C tells a similar story, since it
>>says that while education generally correlates
>>with earnings, these benefits accrue far less
>>evenly than is generally believed.
>>One result is that many college graduates now
>>hold jobs that once required only a high school
>>diploma. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports
>>that 37 percent of flight attendants have
>>completed college, as have 35 percent of tour
>>escorts, 21 percent of embalmers, and 13 percent
>>of both security guards and casino dealers.[3]
>>All signs suggest that the number of graduates
>>will continue to grow, and many will end in
>>well-paying professions. There still seems to be
>>a strong demand for MBAs, of which 120,277 were
>>awarded last year, as well as 105,668 degrees in
>>engineering, and 151,690 in health-related
>>fields. But we cannot expect the economy will
>>automatically create better-paid positions to
>>match the cohort acquiring higher education. And
>>of course employers do not perceive all degrees
>>as equal. When résumés are read, it's thought
>>important not just whether the candidate attended college, but which one.
>>Jerome Karabel, a University of California
>>sociologist, has written an intriguing study of
>>how Harvard, Yale, and Princeton decided whom
>>they would admit throughout the twentieth
>>century. He describes the change from an emphasis
>>on family background and "manly character" to
>>academic excellence as shown by high grades and
>>test scores. Undoubtedly the biggest break with
>>the past is that The Three (as I will call them)
>>now have fewer white and male students than they
>>once did, as well as fewer Protestants and
>>products of boarding schools. Of Groton's
>>seventy-six graduating seniors last year, only
>>eleven made it to The Three. There was a time,
>>Karabel notes, when almost all would walk in. The
>>Three have also embraced affirmative action, and
>>now reserve about 15 percent of their places for
>>black and Hispanic undergraduates, even if their
>>academic records are somewhat below the norm.
>>Instead, credit is given for traits like
>>perseverance and commitment. Karabel doesn't say
>>if he feels this is akin to the way "manly
>>character" was used to favor earlier groups.
>>In recent years, The Three have admitted fewer
>>than 12 percent of their applicants, odds below
>>those at even honest casinos. This popularity is
>>readily explained. As Karabel puts it, a degree
>>from one of them is seen as a "ticket to
>>success." It's certainly true, as he says, that
>>their graduates "have always been heavily
>>overrepresented in the American elite," providing
>>seven of the last century's seventeen presidents.
>>Karabel's use of the phrase "American elite" is
>>telling, since he uses that term rather than,
>>say, "ruling class." Nor is this merely a
>>semantic matter. One can sensibly say that
>>America has rulers, whether political, economic,
>>or cultural, with power concentrated in large
>>organizations and institutions. But it need not
>>follow that those who hold this power constitute
>>a class. An important feature of an "elite" is
>>that it consists of individuals who hold
>>specified positions. The CEO of ExxonMobil
>>belongs, as do the secretary of state and the
>>president of Yale. How they perform may make a
>>difference, but they still owe their power to the chairs they occupy.
>>It's worth asking to what extent The Three are
>>supplying candidates for the positions that
>>count. A place where their degrees carry weight
>>is the legal profession. Among last year's
>>entering class at Harvard Law School, 395 were
>>from The Three, while their 1,267 classmates came
>>from 235 other colleges. Moreover, their
>>undergraduate degrees continue to make a
>>difference. In powerful firms, like New York's
>>Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Washington's
>>Covington & Burling, more than a third of those
>>picked as partners began at one of The Three.
>>But in other branches of work, The Three have
>>less cachet. Their graduates account for only
>>thirty-three CEOs of the top five hundred
>>corporations on Standard & Poor's list. So it may
>>be that four sheltered years are not the best
>>preparation for a corporate climb. Wall Street
>>now also draws from a broader pool, as do leading
>>medical and research centers. Most of The Three's
>>graduates on Forbes's richest list inherited
>>their wealth. By way of contrast, many who
>>amassed their own fortunes never attended or
>>didn't finish college, among them Steven Jobs,
>>Michael Dell, and Lawrence Ellison.
>>The Chosen closes with a brief coda entitled "The
>>Dark Side of Meritocracy." Today, The Three admit
>>students largely on their academic records, with
>>their SAT scores among the highest in the nation.
>>But Karabel cites the work of Michael Young, who
>>a half-century ago in The Rise of the Meritocracy
>>worried that a stratum based on merit was already
>>"on the way to becoming hereditary." Karabel has
>>the same concern, adding that The Three and a few
>>other colleges are creating "a 'new class' of
>>privileged credential holders possessing the
>>means to reproduce itself." I'm not so sure this
>>is happening. Harvard still admits about 40
>>percent of alumni offspring who apply, compared
>>with 11 percent from the general applicant pool.
>>Statistics like these have been used to argue
>>that inherited privilege is still strong.
>>However, even at Harvard, half of the applicants
>>with legacies are turned down. The University of
>>Pennsylvania rejects 59 percent, while Swarthmore
>>rejects 64 percent, and Princeton 65 percent.[4]
>>We all know that the children of accomplished
>>parents often don't inherit their talents. They
>>can be sent to expensive schools and receive
>>extra tutoring, but these investments don't
>>always bring the wished-for results. Among
>>students whose parents make over $100,000 a year,
>>fully 59 percent scored less than 600 in the
>>mathematics section of the SAT and 65 percent
>>scored under that figure on the verbal part. Yet
>>Yale admits fewer than 4 percent who have scores
>>at this level. Since facts like these are widely
>>known, many offspring of successful families
>>don't even bother to apply, and students with
>>more modest social origins are admitted.
>>Would changed admissions policies alter the
>>makeup of America's elite? Karabel shows how The
>>Three during much of the last century curtailed
>>Jewish enrollment, and he explains why the
>>policies had to be changed, as Jews became more
>>established in American life, including the
>>academic world, and their exclusion was damaging
>>both to the quality of scholarship and to the
>>universities' economic future. Curiously, he says
>>relatively little about the upsurge in Asian
>>enrollments, which provide strong evidence that
>>high school grades and test scores are more decisive than ever.
>>And the advent of coeducation at Yale and
>>Princeton, as well as Harvard's admission of more
>>women, means that The Three admit 1,168 fewer men
>>now than they did in 1970. Thus 1,168 men will go
>>through life without a credential they might have
>>had in an earlier generation.[5] Indeed, The
>>Three now enroll 1,581 more women than in 1970.
>>If their degrees will also become Karabel's
>>"ticket to success," as he calls them, then the
>>topmost reaches of America's elite should show
>>more women and fewer men. (In fact, two leading
>>American CEOs who went to Princeton are Margaret
>>Whitman of eBay and Avon's Andrea Jung.) Still,
>>to reach the heights in practically any field
>>today calls for a round-the-clock commitment. So
>>we will have to see what women from The Three are
>>doing when they reach, say, their late thirties.
>>If more than a few decide to give up demanding
>>careers, the men they once displaced as
>>undergraduates, and who had to go to less
>>celebrated colleges, may find they have a second
>>chance to reach these top rungs.
>>Does it enhance our understanding to look for
>>classes in America? As has been seen, any group
>>we choose to call the "middle class" is so large
>>as to be of little analytical help. Nor do the
>>huge majority who are not rich qualify as a
>>class. Moreover, there remains a very well-paid
>>tier of corporate executives between them and the
>>truly rich. Yet, along with the increased
>>concentration of wealth, we are seeing millions
>>of Americans being laid off, settling for lower
>>paying jobs, losing health coverage, and watching
>>pensions evaporate. Economic inequality is
>>increasing, just as the millions who are born and
>>stay poor are not getting anything like a fair
>>chance to improve their situation. Victims of
>>outsourcing don't fit into a single class, nor do
>>the people who suffer most from living in a
>>society that is increasingly unequal and unjust.
>>To see these trends as matters of class does not
>>explain them. What is clear is that we have yet
>>to see any convincing ways of reversing them.
>>[1] See
>>[2] Tom Hertz, "Rags, Riches, and Race: The
>>Intergenerational Economic Mobility of Black and
>>White Families in the United States," in Unequal
>>Chances: Family Background and Economic Success,
>>edited by Samuel Bowles, Herbert Gintis, and
>>Melissa Osborne Groves(Russell Sage
>>Foundation/Princeton University Press, 2005).
>>[3] Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational
>>Outlook Quarterly (Winter 2004­2005), p. 4.
>>[4] "Entrenched Affirmative Action for Whites in
>>College Admissions," The Journal of Blacks in
>>Higher Education,No. 40 (Summer 2003), p. 27.
>>[5] True, these men can go to Dartmouth or
>>Williams. But taken together, the twelve most
>>selective schools have approximately 7,500 fewer
>>male students compared with 1970.
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>>site. The cover date of the next issue of The New
>>York Review of Books will be June 8, 2006.
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