chapter  4
30 Pages


WithCeline-Marie Pascale

This chapter analyzes commonsense knowledge about class in order to understand that which people must assume in order to live in a country that is devoted to the rhetoric of democratic equality, yet divided by the disparities produced through an equal commitment to competitive prosperity. It explores how commonsense knowledge about class in the United States leads people to engage in practices that systematically disorganize the presence of social and economic capital. Cultural critiques of class mark a significant turn from analyses of relations of production and exploitation to analyses of cultural capital. The chapter examines how middle-class identities and naturalized in ways that are unrelated to economic circumstances. During the early 1980s, newspaper articles distinguished between the “old poor”, accustomed to life on the streets, and the increasing numbers of “new poor” who were victims of economic changes. By late 1983, articles also began to attribute homelessness to noneconomic causes.