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Fear of Falling: The Inner Life of the Middle Class

de Barbara Ehrenreich

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307164,478 (3.88)1
A brilliant and insightful work that examines the insecurities of the middle class in an attempt to explain its turn to the right during the past two decades, Fear of Falling traces the myths about the middle class to their roots in the ambitions and anxieties that torment the group and that have led to its retreat from a responsible leadership role.… (mais)
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When I picked this up in the sale bin of East Ave books in Adelaide for $1 I was hoping to get insight into the surreal nightmare of the US’s current state. A better dollar I will never spend. It was published early 1990s, which was exactly what I wanted. I didn’t want a hindsight constructed narrative. Trump is no more than a casually mentioned billionaire of a type towards the end of Ehrenreich’s account of the middle class and its relationship to the other classes in the US during the course of the twentieth century. She explains the rise of the new Right in the US as well as the new Left. The book is highly readable whilst being dense; it’s both deeply and widely researched. I will be reading all her books. I think everybody should read this one.

The story she tells in this one is painful. She shows the rise of the middle-class, how they made themselves a financial and politically important group based on professionalising what they did and excluding others. She talks of its permanent insecurity as a consequence. Even though I’ve always known about it, her analysis of the exploitation of the educated youth and their university-student-led rebellion of the sixties and seventies when university students were actually mowed down by troops in the US was particularly illuminating and excruciatingly sad; staff in universities trying to protect their status from the questioning of the kids who were expected to work at derisory rates in their young professional years. Staff more or less on the side of the troops. None of this has changed, one might add. She documents the discovery by the middle class, to its great astonishment, that there were poor people in the US and she examines the way in which the middle class then set about categorising them and determining how to relate to them. She shows the fabulously patronising attitudes to those below them and the trouble it has ultimately caused.

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A brilliant and insightful work that examines the insecurities of the middle class in an attempt to explain its turn to the right during the past two decades, Fear of Falling traces the myths about the middle class to their roots in the ambitions and anxieties that torment the group and that have led to its retreat from a responsible leadership role.

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