Book Review: Class by Paul Fussel (funny & informative!)

A few days ago I wrote a blog post unpacking my own cultural identities.

Culture is funny. It’s pretty hard to describe your own without a little push. We tend to see our own culture as default with other people being divergent. This is especially true if you are in the majority or are somehow privileged.

Really, though, there is no default.

I read the book Class: A Guide Through the American Status System by Paul Fussel a couple of years ago. A friend of mine had it assigned to her in a sociology class.

It’s great.

Before I read the book, I had thought that socio-economic status (SES) was about the amount of money you had in the bank and the things you can afford.

Oh, no. SES is about values. It’s about value-driven behavior and behavioral communication. It’s about the lifestyle that results from all those behaviors filling up our days and years.

For those middle-class white readers, you should definitely read this book. You, more than anyone else, are prone to think that you don’t have a “culture” i.e. that your culture is the default.

A couple notes about the book: it’s funny and all people of every class get made fun of (except the truly destitute, the author leaves them alone). You should have a sense of humor when reading this.

Also, the book is a little dated. It was written in the 1980’s, but I think the analyses still hold true.

Have any of you read this book? What did you think?

Jodi Nelan/ InternationalSocialWorker.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

 

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