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Hidden Injuries Of Class [Paperback]

Richard Sennett , Jonathan Cobb
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Oct. 1 1993
Why do we respect a doctor more than a good welder? This book uncovers the internal class conflict in the mind of the blue-collar worker, who measures his own value against those occupations to which society gives a special premium.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This superb book puts a human face on those living and working at or near the economic bottom of our society. It describes in detail the emotional and personal ramifications of working in jobs that are looked down upon and stereotyped, as well as how family relationships are complicated by a parent's subordinate position and their desire and sacrifices for a child's success. It is easy-to-read and carries a profound message.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an excellent book about "lower-class" families. Aug. 23 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This superb book puts a human face on those living and working at or near the economic bottom of our society. It describes in detail the emotional and personal ramifications of working in jobs that are looked down upon and stereotyped, as well as how family relationships are complicated by a parent's subordinate position and their desire and sacrifices for a child's success. It is easy-to-read and carries a profound message.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life- Changing Feb. 19 2014
By Judith McKenzie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I first read this book about 10 years after the first edition was published in 1973, and recently re-read my (much-highlighted and annotated) copy. I have given the book five stars for it's approach to dealing with working-class issues, that is, looking at the internal life of the working class and how the deeply-ingrained attitudes in our culture affect those within the working classes. To my knowledge, prior to Sennett and Cobb, no one had done that. To this reader, who grew up in a working-class household, it was a revolutionary read at the time and led me to an understanding that allowed me to transform my self-image and leave behind negative assumptions. For that, no amount of stars can thank the authors enough.
The one failing I see in the book is the limit on the research - all of which was done during interviews with working-class residents of Boston in the middle of the last century. While (certainly) the working-class residents of Boston share characteristics with all working-class in this country, many localities have their own local culture, and most assuredly Boston does, a factor which seems not to have been taken into account in conclusions drawn. A more accurate look at working-class attitudes would have, and, I believe, should have, interviewed more widely-situated study subjects.
That said, however, the conclusions drawn by Sennett and Cobb hold up, even forty years later. The primary damage done to working-class within this county is to their sense of their human dignity, and it is the struggle for dignity which is damaged by their position in society, and it is that struggle which also traps them in their situation.
Some have concluded that Sennett and Cobb argue for a change in respect of human dignity being the thing that can or could change society for the better, but no such conclusion is actually included in the book. What they do say is that the attitudes of mainstream society toward the working class trap those workers in a constant and self-defeating struggle for dignity. That, in my view, has not changed since the publication of this book in 1973. As a college composition professor, I have frequently had students do research analysis of various images in the media, and have been far too frequently horrified by the students who conclude that the images of the working class presented in such shows as Married With Children or The Simpsons are accurate reflections of the character and intelligence of members of our working class. Sennett and Cobb identified the heart of the problem, and, for working class children like myself, offered us mental liberation from the assumptions made about us, but society has done little to nothing to change those assumptions in the forty years since.
5.0 out of 5 stars the working class under siege… Dec 8 2013
By HCE - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

Warren Buffett, CEO, Berkshire Hathaway

The Great Taboo broken here is that of Empire, which would that mention of the phrase ‘working class’ be suppressed.

And why might that be so, i.e., why might it be the case that the State/corporate/MSM regime studiously avoids acknowledging the essential, malign effect of capital?

Mainly because it would risk alerting the slumbering giant—i.e., the overriding majority of the rank and file—that such a thing as ‘class’ even exists! That is to say, one of the ways that consent is manufactured to control those who have been marginalized by predatory capitalism—marginalized as a function of its top-down, exploitative hierarchy—is by perpetrating the ruse that we have 1) a democracy, where 2) “all men are created equal.”

That feint by those courting and wielding Power has great utility in that the working class is placated and tranquilized—i.e., drugged!—and thereby kept off balance as would-be activists. The psy-op process works something like this: “Even though I am a plumber’s assistant [or store clerk, or office worker, etc.], I am just as good as anybody else in this country and—by extension—in the world, since we Americans are exceptional!”

It is an utterly cynical tactic used by those preservers of the status quo, playing upon the worst features of a humanity beaten down by elitist interests—i.e., it belies the actual antagonist (that identity purposely obscured) and, as victims are predisposed to become victimizers, it ultimately sets one worker against another, both globally and at home, as the true source of his immiseration is elided.

That is, (and, secondly), by broaching the term, its counterpoint–i.e., the investor class—is inevitably brought to the fore. This is problematic because now an antagonistic dyad—i.e., pairing off—has been determined and, therefore, also serves to alert the rank and file that there does, in fact, exist another collective of which 1) he is most certainly not a member, and 2) he is, in fact, shunned, feared, kept at a safe distance, etc.—literally, via housing/education/health care strata, and metaphorically, via elitist entitlements believed owed only to those comprising the rentier/property owning opulent minority.
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