Annotations come from Class Action staff, or excerpted descriptions by “Publisher’s Weekly,” “Library Weekly,” “Booklist,” and other reviews. Class Action does not assume any responsibility for the content of these resources or for any opinions expressed in them.
Annotated Class and Classism Bibliography
Adair, Vivyan C. and Dahlberg, Sandra I., Ed. Reclaiming Class: Women, Poverty, and the Promise of Higher Education in America. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2003. Reclaiming Class offers essays written by women who, poor as children, changed their lives through the pathway of higher education.
Aldrich, Nelson W. Jr. Old Money, The Mythology of America’s Upper Class. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988. The descendent of Gilded Age Senator Nelson Aldrich and John D. Rockefeller explains the secrets and myths surrounding old money culture and America’s upper class.
Alters, Diane. “We Hardly Watch that Rude, Crude Show: Class and Taste in The Simpsons,” in Carol Stabile and Mark Harrison (eds), Prime Time Animation: Television Animation and American Culture. New York: Routledge, 2003.
Amott, Teresa and Matthaei, Julie. Race, Gender, and Work: A Multicultural Economic History of Women in the United States. Boston: South End Press, Revised Ed. 1996. The lives of working women and their contributions to American economic history are considered in a fine blend of biography and social and political history.
Anderson, Claud. Black Labor White Wealth: The Search for Power and Economic Justice. Edgewood, MD: Duncan & Duncan, 1994. Dr. Anderson’s classic book tracks slavery and Jim Crow public policies that used black labor to construct a superpower nation.
Aronowitz, Stanley. How Class Works: Power and Social Movement. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003. Aronowitz demonstrates the potency of class in shaping the culture and the possibilities for progressive social movements to alter history.
Bell, Derrick. Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanance of Racism. New York: Basic Books, reprint edition, 1993. In nine grim metaphorical sketches, Bell hammers home his theme that white racism is a permanent, indestructible component of our society.
Blouin, Barbara with Gibson, Katherine, and Kiersted, Margaret. The Legacy of Inherited Wealth: Interviews with heirs. Trio Press, 1995. Interviews about the experiences of inherited wealth.
Blouin, Barbara. Like a Second Mother: Nannies and housekeepers in the lives of wealthy children. The Inheritance Project/Trio Press. 1999.
Brooks, David. Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There. New York: Touchstone Books, 2001. Comic sociology about the emerging “bohemian, bourgeois” (bo-bo) culture in contemporary U.S. society.
Butsch, Richard. “Ralph, Fred, Archie and Homer: Why Television Keeps Recreating the White Male Working- Class Buffoon,” in Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez (eds) Gender, Race and Class in Media: A Text-Reader. Russell Sage, 1995.
Cavendish, Ruth. Women on the Line. Boston, MA: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982.
Cole, Harriette. How To Be: Contemporary Etiquette for African Americans. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1999. The author of Jumping the Broom and former fashion editor of Essence, Cole has the experience and the skill to translate into contemporary language the values and rules of behavior one learned, or was supposed to learn, as a child, updating them to take into account the vicissitudes of modern life.
Coleman, Richard and Rainwater, Lee. Social Standing in America. New York: Basic Books, 1980.
Coles, Robert Coles. Privileged Ones: The Well-Off and Rich in America; Volume V of Children of Crisis. Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1977.
Conniff, Richard. The Natural History of the Rich: A Field Guide. New York: WW Norton, 2002. Humorous perspective of a natural historian who examines the mating rituals, money dances, and unique sub-culture of the rich.
Cookson, Peter Jr. and Persell, Caroline Hodges, Preparing for Power: America’s Elite Boarding Schools. New York: Basic Books, 1985. Classic study on the role of private elite schools in socializing America’s ruling class.
Croteau, David. Politics and the Class Divide. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995. Working class perspective on the class divisions within social movements.
Davis, Angela. Women, Race & Class. New York: Vintage Books, 1983.
De Bottom, Alain. Status Anxiety. New York: Pantheon Books, 2004. Humorous look at the ways in which the U.S., which its professed meritocracy, fosters a culture of enormous status pressure and stress.
DeMott, Benjamin. Created Equal: Reading and Writing About Class in America. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.
DeMott, Benjamin. The Imperial Middle: Why Americans Can’t Think Straight about Class. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992. A ranging look at popular culture and our persistent confusion about class.
De Santis, Solange. Life on the Line: One Woman’s Tale of Work, Sweat, and Survival. New York: Anchor, 2000. Journalistic curiosity led De Santis, a business reporter and freelance writer, to leave her comfortable white-collar world to work for 18 months on an assembly line at a General Motors van plant in Scarborough, Ontario.
Domhoff, G. William. Who Rules America? Power and Politics. New York: McGraw Hill, 2002. Domhoff’s latest look at America’s power elite –and the intersection of wealth-holders, corporate managers and political elites.
Ehrenreich, Barbara. Fear of Falling: The Inner Life of the Middle Class. New York: Harper Collins, 1989. A collection of Ehrenreich’s columns examining the middle class experience during the Reagan revolution.
Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America. New York: Metropolitan, 2001. The best-selling book about the invisible working class.
Epstein, Joseph. Snobbery: The American Version. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002. The best antidote to snobbery, Epstein suggests, is to treat people the same, regardless of their circumstances, and to value things for their intrinsic worth rather than their cachet.
Feagin, Joe R. Racist America: Roots, Current Realities, & Future Reparations. New York: Routledge, 2001. Feagin argues that the system embeds racism at the core, from the Constitution to the legacy of slavery and segregation in retarding black economic advancement.
Feagin, Joe R., Hernan Vera, and Pinar Batur. White Racism: The Basics. New York: Routledge, 2nd Edition, 2000. Taking issue with those who claim the significance of races is declining; this edition probes the dynamic of white- on-black racism in contemporary American society.
Frank, Robert. Luxury Fever: Why Money Fails to Satisfy in an
Era of Excess. New York: Free Press, 1998. Frank looks at the cultural and economic engine behind conspicuous consumption –and the growing pressure on middle-income families to adopt consumption patterns that mirror America’s rich.
Franklin, Raymond S. Shadows of Race and Class. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991.
Fuller, Robert W. Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank. Gabriola Island, British Columbia: New Society Publishers, 2003. Fuller advances his theory about the role of “rankism” in our culture.
Fussell, Paul. Class: A Guide Through the American Status System. New York: Touchstone Books, 1992. While contributing to some confusion about the difference between “status” and “class,” Fussell provides clever commentary on the myth of social inequality.
Gates, Henry Lewis Gates, America Behind the Color Line: Dialogues with African Americans. Warner Books, 2004. Renowned scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., delivers a stirring and authoritative companion to the major new PBS documentary “America Behind the Color Line.”
Gilbert, Dennis and Kahl, Joseph. The American Class Structure: A New Synthesis. Wadsworth Publishing, Fourth edition, 1992. An academic textbook that examines class and social stratification.
Goad, Jim. The Redneck Manifesto, America’s Scapegoats: How we got that way and why we’re not going to take it anymore. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998. Culture maverick Jim Goad presents a thoroughly reasoned, darkly funny, and rampagingly angry defense of America’s most maligned social group — the cultural clan variously referred to as rednecks, hillbillies, white trash, crackers, and trailer trash.
Goldfield, Michael. The Color of Politics: Race and the Mainspring of American Politics. New York: New Press, 1997. This is a radical analysis of American political development emphasizing the relationship between race and class. Goldfield gives particular attention to five historic “critical periods or turning points”: the Colonial era, the Revolutionary War and the development of the Constitution, the Civil War and Reconstruction, the Populist movement, and the Depression and New Deal era.
Gose, Ellis. Color-Blind (seeing beyond race in a race-obsessed world). New York: Harper Collins, 1997. Cose probes the depths of the American mind and exposes the contradictions, fears, hopes and illusions embedded in our complicated perceptions of race.
Graham, Lawrence Otis. Our Kind of People, Inside America’s Black Upper Class. New York: Harper Collins Perennial, 2000. Graham spent six years researching the history of the African- American upper crust and this book is both a thorough work of social history and a thoughtful appraisal of his own place in the black social hierarchy.
Hartmann, Thom. Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights. New York: Rodale, 2002.
Henwood, Doug. After the New Economy. New York: The New Press, 2003. The publisher of the Left Business Observer examines the realignment of class and worker rights in the new economy.
Hill, Marcia and Rothblum, Esther, Eds. Classisim and Feminist Therapy: Counting Costs. Harrington Park Press and imprint of Haworth Press, 1996. A much needed discussion of how class affects psychotherapy, guiding therapists into manners of implementing more effective and less biased treatments.
Holtzman, Linda. Media Messages. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2000.
Hooks, Bell. Where We Stand: Class Matters. New York: Routledge, 2000. Hooks’ insightful narrative on the interaction of race and class and her own transition to relative privilege and security.
Johnston, David Cay, Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich –and Cheat Everybody Else. New York: Portfolio, 2003. Johnston, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for The New York Times explains how the tax system has been skewed to benefit the rich.
Kadi, Joanna. Thinking Class: Sketches from a Cultural Worker. Boston: South End Press, 1996. Kadi’s scholarly assessment of how oppression by class connects with oppression by race and gender considers the nature and dilemma of working people and the down-to-earth cultural realities they build.
Kelly, Charles M. Class War in America: How Economic and Political Conservatives Are Exploiting Low-and Middle-Income Americans. Santa Barbara: Daniel & Daniel Publishers, 2000. Financial conservatives, with the aid of their political supporters, have been waging class warfare against working Americans for the past 20 years. Here is a guided tour of conservative America’s agenda and strategies.
Kendall, Diana. The Power of Good Deeds: Privileged Woman and the Social Reproduction of the Upper Class. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002. This book encourages us to see behind the media image of upper-class women and to observe how these women use their social power not only to benefit other, less-fortunate people, but also to benefit themselves and their families.
Kent, Ronald C., Markham, Sara, Roediger, David R. and Shapiro, Herbert, eds. Culture, Gender, Race, and U.S. Labor History. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993.
Kivel, Paul. You Call This a Democracy? New York: Apex Press, 2004. Great new penetrating look at the U.S. ruling class –which unpacks the higher reaches of power and wealth and its implications for social change.
Kotlowitz, Alex. There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America. Anchor, 1992. A true story of brothers Lafeyette and Pharoah Rivers, ages 11 and 9 at the start that brings home the horror of trying to survive in a violence-ridden public housing project.
Kozol, Jonathan. Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools. New York: Harperperennia, 1992. Kozol’s compelling narrative dramatizes the searing inequality of opportunity that exists in America’s schools.
Lamont, Michèle. Money, Morals, & Manners: The Culture of the French and the American Upper-Middle Class. The University of Chicago Press, 1992. Drawing on in-depth interviews with 160 people in the United States and France, Lamont provides a rare and revealing collective portrait of the upper-middle class–the managers, professionals, entrepreneurs, and experts at the center of power in society.
Lapham, Lewis H. Money and Class in America: Notes and Observations on the Civil Religion. New York: Random House, 1988. A witty look at the money-worship and excesses of the Reagan era that is just as apt today.
Lareau, Annette. Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life. University of California Press, 2003. This accessible ethnographic study offers valuable insights into contemporary family life in poor, working-class, and middle-class American households.
Levine, Lawrence W. Highbrow Lowbrow, The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America. Harvard University Press, 1990. Levine looks at the history of division between elite and mass cu
lture in the U.S. He argues there are less rigid divisions in contemporary culture.
Linkon, Sherry Lee, Ed. Teaching Working Class. University of Massachusetts Press, 1999.
Lubrano, Albert. Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, 2004. One of the most important books about the “Straddler” experience.
Lynes, Russell. The Tastemakers. Greenwood Press Reprint, 1983. Originally written in 1954, Tastemakers is a historic look at class perspectives about popular taste in art, architecture, and interior decoration, with short sketches of the men and women responsible for the trends.
Mantsios, Gregory. “What Is Social Class?” in Rosenblum, Karen and Travis, Toni-Michelle (eds.). The Meaning of Difference: American Construction of Race, Sex and Gender, Social Class, and Sexual Orientation. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, 1996.
Mantsios, Gregory. “Class in America: Myths and Realities” in Colombo, Gary; Cullen, Robert and Lisle, Bonnie (eds.). Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing. New York: Bedford Books, 1992.
McNamee, Stephen & Miller, Robert Jr. The Meritocracy Myth. Lanham, MD, Rowman & Littlefield, 2004.
Miller, Robert Keith. eds. Inheritance and Wealth in America. New York: Plenum Press, 1998. A critical collection on the philosophical and legal basis for inheritance in U.S. culture and the rationale for taxing concentrated wealth.
Mills, C. Wright. The Power Elite. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956. Eminent sociologist Mills’ classic look at America’s power elite.
Mogil, Christopher & Slepian, Anne with Pete Woodrow. We Gave Away a Fortune: Stories of People Who Have Devoted Themselves and Their Wealth to Peace, Justice and a Healthy Environment. Gabriola Island, British Columbia: New Society Publishers, 1992. Interviews with wealth individuals who gave away substantial assets for social change.
Moss, Kirby. The Color of Class: Poor Whites and the Paradox of Privilege. University of Pensylvania Press, 2003. A reflection by a Black author on the class and racial tensions between poor whites and upwardly mobile Blacks.
Olsen, Tillie. Silences. New York: The Feminist Press at CUNY; 25th Anniversary Edition, 2003. First published in 1978, Silences single-handedly discovered a lost continent — the writing of women and working-class people.
O’Neill, Jessie H. The Golden Ghetto: The psychology of affluence. Hazelden Press, MN. 1997. A psychotherapist and granddaughter of a one time General Motors president, O’Neill provides a penetrating look at why attaining wealth proves to be a hollow achievement for many.
Ostrander, Susan. Women of the Upper Class. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1984. A lively and perceptive look into the lives of upper-class woman that illuminates the impact of class and gender on women’s lives.
Parenti, Michael. Land of Idols: Political Mythology in America. New York: St Martin’s Press, 1993. Parenti critiques “conventional American beliefs” about patriotism, religion, class, race, gender, and the distribution of wealth and power in the U.S. These beliefs, Parenti insists, “serve conservative class interests and keep us from fully pursuing our democratic interests.”
Parker, Gwendolyn M. Trespassing: My Sojourn in the Halls of Privilege. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997. Parker tells her story of growing up in Durham, NC, descendent of the founder of the country’s premier black-owned insurance company –and her sojourn to an elite private school and into the higher reaches of corporate America.
Payne, Ruby K. A Framework for Understanding Poverty. Aha Process, Revised 2003. This book describes the hidden rules of economic class and spreads the message that, despite the obstacles poverty can create in all types of interaction, there are specific strategies for overcoming them.
Payne, Ruby and Krabill, Don. Hidden Rules of Class at Work. Aha Process, 2002. This book looks at how economic class influences behaviors that show up in the workplace and an understanding of how the levels of an organization reflect the hidden rules of class.
Penelope, Julia, ed. Out of the Class Closet: Lesbians Speak. Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press, 1994. A wide-ranging anthology in which Lesbians from diverse classes, races, and ethnic backgrounds tell their stories and articulate, with insight and wit, theories of class difference among women. Includes an article about “Cost Sharing Across Class Lines” by Class Action’s Felice Yeskel.
Perrucci, Robert and Wysong, Earl. The New Class Society: Goodbye American Dream. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2nd edition, 2002. A useful review of different class theory and a bold attempt to suggest a new construct of class structure.
Phillips, Kevin. Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich. New York: Broadway Books, 2002. A long but interesting history of the cycles of wealth inequality in the U.S.
Pizzigati, Sam. Greed and Good: Understanding and Overcoming the Inequality That Limits Our Lives. New York: Apex Press, 2004. Sam Pizzigati edits the online newsletter Too Much, which chronicles the cost of inequality and the movement for equity.
Queenan, Joe. Red Lobster, White Trash, and the Blue Lagoon: Joe Queenan’s America. Hyperion, 1998. A comical look at U.S. popular culture and class conceptions of taste.
Raffo, Susan, ed. Queerly Classed: Gay Men & Lesbians Write about Class. Boston:South End Press, 1997. Queerly Classed breaks through the class closet door with almost two dozen personal and critical essays that explore the intersections between class and sexual identity.
Reed, Adolph. Class Notes: Posing as Politics and Other Thoughts on the American Scene. New York: The New Press, 2000. Reed, a veteran commentator on race, class and popular culture, examines a wide variety of issues related to labor, class, cross-racial relations and the radical right wing.
Robinson, Randall. The Debt: What America Owes Blacks. New York: Dutton, 2000. The founder of TransAfrica makes a moral case for black reparations.
Rodriguez, Richard. Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez. Bantam. 1983 . A memoir on the Latino experience.
Rose, Fred, Coalitions across the Class Divide. Cornell University, 2000. A look at the ways that class divisions undermine social movements. Rose draws on his experiences working in labor, peace and environmental movements to share lessons for organizing.
Rose, Mike. Lives on the Boundary: The Struggles and Achievements of America’s Underprepared. Touchstone, 1999. The reflections of a “straddler” who grew up in a low- income neighborhood in Los Angeles and is now a writing tea
cher at UCLA.
Rosenblum, Karen E. and Travis, Toni-Michelle C., eds. The Meaning of Difference: American Construction of Race, Sex and Gender, Social Class, and Sexual Orientation. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., Third Edition, 2002. A textbook collection about the social construction of difference as that operates in American formulations of race, sex and gender, social class, and sexual orientation.
Rothenberg, Paula. Invisible Privilege; A Memoir About Race, Class, and Gender. University Press of Kansas, 2000. Rothenberg shows how higher education upholds race, class, and gender bias, and, more generally, analyzes the ways in which many white people’s unwavering belief in their own good intentions leaves them blind to their societal privilege and their role in perpetuating class difference.
Rubin, Lillian B. Worlds of Pain: Life in the Working Class Family. New York: Basic Books, 1976. One the most searing contemporary commentaries into the hidden injuries of class oppression.
Rubin, Lillian B. Families on the Fault Line: America’s Working Class Speaks about the Family, the Economy, Race, and Ethnicity. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. Two decades after writing Worlds of Pain, Rubin returns to the topic based on 400 interviews with a more racially diverse range of working families.
Ryan, William, Equality, New York: Vintage Books, 1982. The classic reflection on the value of equality in an unequal society.
Rymer, Russ. American Beach: How Progress Robbed a Black Town (and Nation) of History, Wealth, and Power. New York: Harper, 2000. Drawing from stories of a Black resort town in northeast Florida, Rymer explores racial and class conflict and the experience of segregation and integration.
Sayles, Ginie Polo. How to Marry the Rich. Berkley Books, Reissue, 1994. A popularself-help guide that includes practical advice for dating and mating across the class divide.
Sayles, Ginie Polo. How to Meet the Rich: For Business, Friendship, or Romance. Berkley Books, 1999. In her follow-up to How to Marry the Rich, Sayles coaches her readers on the class codes of the wealthy.
Seabrook, Jeremy. The No-Nonsense Guide to Class, Caste & Hierarchies. London:New Internationalist Publications/Verso, 2002. A compact primer on class written from English working class perspective.
Sennett, Richard and Jonathan Cobb. The Hidden Injuries of Class. New York:Knopf/Vintage Books, 1972. The classic book about the deep wounds that classoppression inflicts on individuals and communities.
Schervish, Paul G. Gospels of Wealth: How the rich portray their lives. Westport, CT: Praeger. 1994. Based on interviews with the wealthy, an insight into how they view themselves and their wealth.
Silverstein, Michael and Fiske, Neil, and Butman, John. Trading Up: Why Consumers Want New Luxury Goods… And How Companies Create Them. Portfolio, Updated, 2004. Trading Up reveals how today’s middle-class consumers are seeking higher levels of quality, taste, and aspiration than had ever been possible before—in their choices of cars and clothing, vodka and beer, golf clubs and dolls, and much more.
Slater, Philip. Wealth Addiction. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1983. Slater’s important reflection on the power of money to distort our society and values.
Stout, Linda. Bridging the Class Divide and other Lessons for Grassroots Organizing. Beacon, 1996. The founder of the Piedmont Peace Project reflects on how to do successful cross-class organizing.
Tea, Michelle. Without A Net: The Female Experience of Growing Up Working Class. Emeryville, CA: Seal Press, 2003. A fabulous collection of women’s writings about the stresses of growing up poor and straddling the class divide as adults.
Terkel, Studs. Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. New York: The New Press, 1997. Great interviews by the master interviewer himself with people about their jobs.
Thompson, Becky. A Promise and a Way of Life: White Anti-Racist Activism.
University of Minnesota, 2001. A white woman’s insights into white privilege and interviews with leading white anti-racist activists.
Veblen, Thorstein. The Theory of the Leisure Class. Penguin, 1994. Originally published in 1899, this is a classic and witty look at the superficial status anxieties of the wealthy and conspicuous consumption.
Weiss, Michael J. Latitudes & Attitudes, an Atlas of American Tastes, Trends, Politics, and Passions. Little, Brown and Company, 1994. From the author of the Clustering of America, about demographic subcultures in the U.S., Weiss examines 209 class and cultural subgroups and their consumption habits.
Willis, Thayer Cheatham. Navigating the Dark Side of Wealth: A Life Guide for Inheritors. Portland, OR: New Concord Press, 2003. A wealthy woman reflects on the spiritual and personal implications of inherited wealth.
Wray, Matt and Newitz, Annalee, ed. White Trash: Race and Class in America. New York: Routledge, 1996. This collection is devoted to exploring stereotypes about the social conditions of poor whites in the United States and comparing these stereotypes with the social reality.
Yeskel, Felice. “Beyond the Taboo: Talking About Class.” Pp. 42-57 in The Narrow Bridge: Jewish Views on Multiculturalism, edited by Marla Brettschneider. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1996. Class Action co-founder Felice Yeskel’s essay about breaking the silence on class oppression.
Zandy, Janet, editor. Liberating Memory: Our Work and our Working Class Consciousness. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1994. Another collection, which highlights the positive experiences of working class life and upbringings.
Zandy, Janet, editor. Calling Home: Working Class Women’s Writings: An Anthology. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1990. A powerful collection of stories that portray a range of working-class experiences.
Zinn, Howard. “Economic Justice: The American Class System”, Declarations of Independence. New York: Harper Collins, 1991.
Zweig, Michael. The Working Class Majority: America’s Best Kept Secret. Cornell University Press, 2000.