Up Against an (Imaginary) Wall? Economic Insecurity and the White Working-Class in Contemporary America
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoRelease after 07/09/2022
AbstractEconomic insecurity has grown in the United States since the 1970s. This reflects extensive structural change across key social institutions, like the market, family, and the state. The experience and impact of rising insecurity has fallen disproportionately on the working-class (i.e., those without a four-year college degree). This includes previously insulated members of the working-class, like white non-Hispanics and men. Thus, for much of the white working-class the last fifty years has been a scenario of relative decline. The social, cultural, and economic position of the white working-class—relative to its peers—has generated a potentially distinct set of responses across multiple dimensions. This analysis focuses on two possible ramifications of white working-class economic insecurity: deaths of despair (suicide, drug overdose, alcohol) and reactionary politics. Using a combination of linear modeling and in-depth interviews I assess the relationship between economic insecurity, class position, deaths of despair, and reactionary politics in contemporary America. This research builds up theories of economics and health, class politics, and social inequality. It also provides insight into two highly topical events in modern America: rising deaths of despair and the (re)emergence of white reactionary politics.
Degree ProgramGraduate College