Books for changing the world

The Sinking Middle Class: A Political History of Debt, Misery, and the Drift to the Right

The slogan, “save the middle class,” has become ubiquitous within political circles, despite the fact that it misleads us regarding class, nation, and race. Talk of middle class salvation reinforces myths that the US is a providentially middle class nation.

In these discussions the middle class is implicitly white and presented—usually by liberal commentators—as unheard amidst concerns for racial justice and for the poor.

In this launch for David Roediger’s The Sinking Middle Class, the author will be joined by Nan Enstad for a discussion how the image of the United States as a middle class nation corresponds to neither contemporary nor historical reality.


Nan Enstad is the Buttel-Sewell Professor of Community and Environmental Sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the author of Cigarettes Inc: An Intimate History of Corporate Imperialism. Her research and teaching examines the history of global capitalism and how people have lived and struggled within and against it. She has longstanding commitments to cultural, anti-racist, ethnic, labor, queer, and gender studies that inform how she approach any subject. She is currently exploring controversies around large-scale animal agriculture.

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 Class, Race and Marxism.

  • The Sinking Middle Class

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