Reshaping The Work-Family Debate: Why Men And Class Matter

Joan C. Williams
Harvard University Press, 2010

Berkeley law professor Joan C. Williams has written a brilliant and insightful book about the way masculine norms in the workplace disadvantage both women and men. An astute observer of class bias in media and academic visions of the working class, Williams also discusses the intense class prejudices held by many liberal academics. Working people “sense the attitude reflected in decades of condescending studies that present the working class as fundamentally irrational,” she writes. “They see that we think they are dumb, as when the wildly popular Freakonomics casually asserts again and again that upper-middle-class people are more intelligent than the working class.” She goes on to urge progressives to institute the sort of taboo against insulting white workers that currently exists against using racial innuendo and insults. In addition, middle-class progressives must “accept the fact that class is a key axis of social disadvantage in American life so that we do not inadvertently offend potential allies by signaling that we are clueless about our class privilege.”

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