ROAM AGENCY

THE SINKING MIDDLE CLASS
A Political History of Debt, Misery, and the Drift to the Right

David Roediger

Haymarket Books (21 June, 2022)

Trade paper • ISBN-13: 9781642597059 • US $9.99 • 5.5 in x 8.5 in • 200 pgs.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

A fierce, historically informed polemic against the idea that the middle class is the key to US greatness, past and future.The Sinking Middle Class challenges the “save the middle class” rhetoric that dominates our political imagination. The slogan misleads us regarding class, nation, and race. Talk of middle class salvation reinforces myths holding that the US is a providentially middle class nation.   Implicitly white, the middle class becomes viewed as unheard amidst supposed concerns for racial justice and for the poor. Roediger shows how little the US has been a middle class nation. The term seldom appeared in US writing before 1900. Many white Americans were self-employed, but this social experience separated them from the contemporary middle class of today, overwhelmingly employed and surveilled.

Today’s highly unequal US hardly qualifies as sustaining the middle class. The idea of the US as a middle class place required nurturing. Those doing that ideological work—from the business press, to pollsters, to intellectuals celebrating the results of free enterprise—gained little traction until the Depression and Cold War expanded the middle class brand.

Much later, the book’s sections on liberal strategist Stanley Greenberg detail, “saving the middle class” entered presidential politics. Both parties soon defined the middle class to include over 90% of the population, precluding intelligent attention to the poor and the very rich.  Resurrecting radical historical critiques of the middle class, Roediger argues that middle class identities have so long been shaped by debt, anxiety about falling, and having to sell one’s personality at work that misery defines a middle class existence as much as fulfillment.

PRAISE:

“As the nation burns and the future appears uncertain, David Roediger delivers another incisive, timely, clear-eyed analysis of class and race in America. His point is clear: another world won’t be built by pollsters or slick election strategies aimed at saving the middle class. We have to grow a movement. ”

Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

“A consistently pathbreaking historian.”

Monthly Review

“No contemporary intellectual has better illuminated the interwoven social histories and conceptual dimensions of race and class domination.”

Nikhil Singh

“Brilliant and insightful… Explores the ways in which appeals to save the middle class in electoral politics harm the very constituencies they purport to help.”

George Lipsitz, author of How Racism Takes Place

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

David Roediger teaches in American Studies, History, and African and African American Studies at University of Kansas. His recent books include, How Race Survived United States History and ClassRace and Marxism.

RIGHTS INFORMATION:

Please contact subagents for the following languages and territories:

Language/Territory Subagent
China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and VietnamBig Apple Agency
DutchSebes & Bisseling Literary Agency
English outside North AmericaDavid Grossman Literary Agency
FrenchDeborah Druba Agency
GermanPaul & Peter Fritz AG Literatur Agentur
GreekRead n' Right Agency
HebrewThe Deborah Harris Agency
ItalianThe Nabu International Literary Agency
JapaneseThe English Agency (Japan) Ltd
KoreanBC Agency, or Korea Copyright Center
PortugueseRIFF Agency
Russia/Baltics/Eastern EuropePrava I Prevodi
Scandinavia Sebes & Bisseling Literary Agency
Spanish in Latin AmericaInternational Editors' Co., S.A.
Spanish in SpainInternational Editors' Co., S.A.
TurkishAnatolialit Agency

For all other languages/territories, please contact Roam Agency.