The Hidden Injuries of Class

The Hidden Injuries of Class


By (author) Richard Sennett, By (author) Jonathan Cobb


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  • Publisher: WW Norton & Co
  • Format: Paperback | 288 pages
  • Dimensions: 135mm x 206mm x 13mm | 272g
  • Publication date: 7 December 1993
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 039331085X
  • ISBN 13: 9780393310856
  • Edition statement: Reprinted edition
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 213,484

Product description

In this intrepid, groundbreaking book, Richard Sennett and Jonathan Cobb uncover and define a new form of class conflict in America an internal conflict in the heart and mind of the blue-collar worker who measures his own value against those lives and occupations to which our society gives a special premium.

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Review quote

Their work is subtle, refined and sympathetic. It is an excellent example of social-science work in which the authors do not pretend impartiality but state their values and allow their readers to learn from their findings and argue with their conclusions. "

Editorial reviews

An unorthodox and sensitive study of "the moral burdens and emotional hardships of class" based on some 150 interviews with working-class men and women living in Boston's crumbling ethnic enclaves. The authors venture far beyond the usual easy empiricism of pollsters to explore, with great delicacy, the ambivalent feelings of powerlessness and inadequacy, low esteem, and lack of dignity which, they suggest, have a greater visceral reality to the blue-collar worker than the dollars and cents "calculus of material well being" generally used to gauge working-class discontents. Or as one "successful" working man making $10,000 + hesitantly said, "I feel like I'm taking shit even when, actually, even when there's nothing wrong." Nurtured on the American myth that social mobility is the reward of "ability," Sennett and Cobb argue that from elementary school on the worker bears the stigma of being "average," blaming himself for his own inability to achieve the status privileges of the elite while at the same time despising the "unreal" content of work in the white-collar world. Hence the bitter paradoxes - an increase in material power and freedom of choice is accompanied by a "crisis of self-respect"; anger is vitiated by self-hatred; "equal opportunity" shibboleths insure that class is experienced as a personal responsibility often accompanied by shame. Among the many recent studies of working class life (the Sextons' Blue Collar and Hard Hat, 1971; Andrew Greeley's Why Can't They Be Like Us?, 1971; Michael Novak's The Rise of the Unmeltable Ethnics, p. 244), this stands out both for its compassion and its willingness to venture into subjective psychic realities painfully difficult to articulate and impossible to quantify. (Kirkus Reviews)