Growing up Working Class: Hidden Injuries and the Development of Angry White Men and Women by Thomas J. Gorman, Ph.D. (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2017).
NEW YORK, NY, November 17, 2020 /Neptune100/ — With the Presidential election results mostly behind us, a number of newspaper columnists, political pundits, and Joe Biden voters have been asking questions such as: Why did President Trump do as well as he did with all the accusations against him of bigotry, misogyny, and other norm-breaking tweets and behavior. What does this have to say about our country? How could over 73,000,000 voters back him so solidly (while still losing to President-elect Joe Biden)? I provide some answers to questions such as these in my recently published book, Growing up Working Class: Hidden Injuries and the Development of Angry White Men and Women (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2017).
There is an “anger and lashing out” at the status quo rooted more in one segment of the population: the white working class–those who do not hold a college degree. (President Trump lost a little support from this group as compared to 2016, but still won it with an overwhelmingly number of votes). What can account for the white, working-class’ anger and lashing out at established institutions in this country over time? These events, I argue, are connected to what Sennett and Cobb referred to as the “hidden injuries of class.” That anger is apparent in many white working class adult men and women and my own research has shown that—and is included in my book. But, that anger and lashing out, borne out of bitterness and anger, does not take place overnight—it can take a lifetime of events.
My book is an ethnography/auto-ethnography of my youth, embedded in sociological concepts and theories. Along with some of my own research on the working class, voices from social media, and data from Social Explorer about a particular time and place—a neighborhood in New York City on the Brooklyn-Queens border in the 1960s The book provides a window into the development of the type of attitudes and behavior that can lead to so much of the anger and hate we hear and see today. As the blurb on the back cover of the book and Palgrave Macmillan website say, the
“…book is an enlightening auto-ethnography examining how social class (and other social institutions and structures) affect how people grow up. Primarily, the book investigates how American children and young adults are impacted by the “hidden injuries” of class, and offers a rich description of how these injuries manifest and curdle later in life. Thomas J. Gorman provides sociological explanations for the phenomenon of the so-called “angry white man,” [and woman] and engages with this phenomenon as it relates to the rise of recent populist political figures such as Donald J. Trump. He also examines how and why white working class people tend to lash out at the wrong social forces and support political action that works against their own interests.” “The book speaks to a timely topic -the face of rising populism, white nationalism, and disenchantment with the status quo political order and a globalized, modernizing world.”
The reviews have been very positive:
“The book is erected around a compelling thesis: How the ‘hidden injuries of class’ follow working-class kids into adulthood.” (Alfred Lubrano, Journal of Working Class Studies, Vol. 3 (2), December, 2018)
“…a well-written book” (Kamil Luczaj, Acta Sociologica, 2018)
“I love this [book)—it speaks to me and with me. It taps into the anger and real rage within working class communities, and not just white working class communities. Sociologists have an important role in unraveling and being critical of how pain, anger, and injury relating to class inequality expand into every space.” (Lisa McKenzie, Sociology Fellow at the London School of Economics, UK)
Thomas J. Gorman, Ph.D.
Associate Professor (recently retired)
Department of Sociology
City University of New York