Best Selling Books in Sociology - Class

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release date: Jun 28, 2016
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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, NAMED BY THE TIMES AS ONE OF "6 BOOKS TO HELP UNDERSTAND TRUMP'S WIN"

"You will not read a more important book about America this year."—The Economist

"A riveting book."—The Wall Street Journal

"Essential reading."—David Brooks, New York Times

From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.

But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.

A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

release date: Feb 28, 2017
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Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
WINNER OF THE 2017 PULITZER PRIZE FOR GENERAL NONFICTION 

In Evicted, Harvard sociologist and MacArthur “Genius” Matthew Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee as they struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Hailed as “wrenching and revelatory” (The Nation), “vivid and unsettling” (New York Review of Books), Evicted transforms our understanding of poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving one of 21st-century America’s most devastating problems. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER | WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FOR NONFICTION WINNER OF THE PEN/JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH AWARD FOR NONFICTION | WINNER OF THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN NONFICTION | FINALIST FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR by The New York Times Book Review • The Boston Globe •  The Washington Post  NPR • Entertainment Weekly • The New Yorker • Bloomberg •  Esquire • Buzzfeed • Fortune • San Francisco Chronicle • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel • St. Louis Post-Dispatch •  Politico •  The Week • Bookpage • Kirkus Reviews •  Amazon •  Barnes and Noble Review •  Apple •  Library Journal • Chicago Public Library • Publishers Weekly • Booklist • Shelf Awareness
release date: Apr 18, 2017
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Janesville: An American Story
“Moving and magnificently well-researched...Janesville joins a growing family of books about the evisceration of the working class in the United States. What sets it apart is the sophistication of its storytelling and analysis.” —The New York Times

A Washington Post reporter’s intimate account of the fallout from the closing of a General Motors’ assembly plant in Janesville, Wisconsin—Paul Ryan’s hometown—and a larger story of the hollowing of the American middle class.

This is the story of what happens to an industrial town in the American heartland when its factory stills—but it’s not the familiar tale. Most observers record the immediate shock of vanished jobs, but few stay around long enough to notice what happens next, when a community with a can-do spirit tries to pick itself up.

Pulitzer Prize winner Amy Goldstein has spent years immersed in Janesville, Wisconsin where the nation’s oldest operating General Motors plant shut down in the midst of the Great Recession, two days before Christmas of 2008. Now, with intelligence, sympathy, and insight into what connects and divides people in an era of economic upheaval, she makes one of America’s biggest political issues human. Her reporting takes the reader deep into the lives of autoworkers, educators, bankers, politicians, and job re-trainers to show why it’s so hard in the twenty-first century to recreate a healthy, prosperous working class.

For this is not just a Janesville story or a Midwestern story. It’s an American story.
release date: Apr 04, 2017
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White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America

The New York Times Besteller, with a new preface from the author

“This estimable book rides into the summer doldrums like rural electrification. . . . It deals in the truths that matter.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“This eye-opening investigation into our country’s entrenched social hierarchy is acutely relevant.”O, The Oprah Magazine

White Trash will change the way we think about our past and present.”
—T. J. Stiles, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Custer’s Trials

In her groundbreaking  bestselling history of the class system in America, Nancy Isenberg, #4 on the 2016 Politico 50 list, takes on our comforting myths about equality, uncovering the crucial legacy of the ever-present, always embarrassing—if occasionally entertaining—poor white trash.

 
“When you turn an election into a three-ring circus, there’s always a chance that the dancing bear will win,” says Isenberg of the political climate surrounding Sarah Palin. And we recognize how right she is today. Yet the voters that put Trump in the White House have been a permanent part of our American fabric, argues Isenberg.

The wretched and landless poor have existed from the time of the earliest British colonial settlement to today's hillbillies. They were alternately known as “waste people,” “offals,” “rubbish,” “lazy lubbers,” and “crackers.” By the 1850s, the downtrodden included so-called “clay eaters” and “sandhillers,” known for prematurely aged children distinguished by their yellowish skin, ragged clothing, and listless minds.
 
Surveying political rhetoric and policy, popular literature and scientific theories over four hundred years, Isenberg upends assumptions about America’s supposedly class-free society––where liberty and hard work were meant to ensure real social mobility. Poor whites were central to the rise of the Republican Party in the early nineteenth century, and the Civil War itself was fought over class issues nearly as much as it was fought over slavery. Reconstruction pitted poor white trash against newly freed slaves, which factored in the rise of eugenics–-a widely popular movement embraced by Theodore Roosevelt that targeted poor whites for sterilization. These poor were at the heart of New Deal reforms and LBJ’s Great Society; they haunt us in reality TV shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty. Marginalized as a class, white trash have always been at or near the center of major political debates over the character of the American identity.
 
We acknowledge racial injustice as an ugly stain on our nation’s history. With Isenberg’s landmark book, we will have to face the truth about the enduring, malevolent nature of class as well.
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release date: Nov 16, 2010
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The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy
The bestselling The Millionaire Next Door identifies seven common traits that show up again and again among those who have accumulated wealth. Most of the truly wealthy in this country don't live in Beverly Hills or on Park Avenue-they live next door. This new edition, the first since 1998, includes a new foreword for the twenty-first century by Dr. Thomas J. Stanley.
release date: Apr 11, 2017
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The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class—and What We Can Do About It

In recent years, the young, educated, and affluent have surged back into cities, reversing decades of suburban flight and urban decline. And yet all is not well, Richard Florida argues in The New Urban Crisis. Florida, one of the first scholars to anticipate this back-to-the-city movement in his groundbreaking The Rise of the Creative Class, demonstrates how the same forces that power the growth of the world's superstar cities also generate their vexing challenges: gentrification, unaffordability, segregation, and inequality. Meanwhile, many more cities still stagnate, and middle-class neighborhoods everywhere are disappearing. Our winner-take-all cities are just one manifestation of a profound crisis in today's urbanized knowledge economy.

A bracingly original work of research and analysis, The New Urban Crisis offers a compelling diagnosis of our economic ills and a bold prescription for more inclusive cities capable of ensuring growth and prosperity for all.

release date: Jan 10, 1996
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Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book)
The controversial book linking intelligence to class and race in modern society, and what public policy can do to mitigate socioeconomic differences in IQ, birth rate, crime, fertility, welfare, and poverty.
release date: May 15, 2017
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Lauren Greenfield: Generation Wealth

A highly anticipated monograph from the internationally acclaimed documentary photographer and filmmaker

Lauren Greenfield: Generation Wealth is both a retrospective and an investigation into the subject of wealth over the last twenty-five years. Greenfield has traveled the world - from Los Angeles to Moscow, Dubai to China - bearing witness to the global boom-and-bust economy and documenting its complicated consequences. Provoking serious reflection, this book is not about the rich, but about the desire to be wealthy, at any cost.

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release date: Mar 14, 2017
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The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic
In this original, provocative contribution to the debate over economic inequality, Ganesh Sitaraman argues that a strong and sizable middle class is a prerequisite for America’s constitutional system.
 
For most of Western history, Sitaraman argues, constitutional thinkers assumed economic inequality was inevitable and inescapable—and they designed governments to prevent class divisions from spilling over into class warfare. The American Constitution is different. Compared to Europe and the ancient world, America was a society of almost unprecedented economic equality, and the founding generation saw this equality as essential for the preservation of America’s republic. Over the next two centuries, generations of Americans fought to sustain the economic preconditions for our constitutional system. But today, with economic and political inequality on the rise, Sitaraman says Americans face a choice: Will we accept rising economic inequality and risk oligarchy or will we rebuild the middle class and reclaim our republic?
 
The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution is a tour de force of history, philosophy, law, and politics. It makes a compelling case that inequality is more than just a moral or economic problem; it threatens the very core of our constitutional system.
release date: Mar 17, 2017
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The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy (MIT Press)

The United States is becoming a nation of rich and poor, with few families in the middle. In this book, MIT economist Peter Temin offers an illuminating way to look at the vanishing middle class. Temin argues that American history and politics, particularly slavery and its aftermath, play an important part in the widening gap between rich and poor. Temin employs a well-known, simple model of a dual economy to examine the dynamics of the rich/poor divide in America, and outlines ways to work toward greater equality so that America will no longer have one economy for the rich and one for the poor.

Many poorer Americans live in conditions resembling those of a developing country -- substandard education, dilapidated housing, and few stable employment opportunities. And although almost half of black Americans are poor, most poor people are not black. Conservative white politicians still appeal to the racism of poor white voters to get support for policies that harm low-income people as a whole, casting recipients of social programs as the Other -- black, Latino, not like "us." Politicians also use mass incarceration as a tool to keep black and Latino Americans from participating fully in society. Money goes to a vast entrenched prison system rather than to education. In the dual justice system, the rich pay fines and the poor go to jail.

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