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The Hidden Injuries of Class Paperback – 28 Jun 1988


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Product details

  • Paperback: 275 pages
  • Publisher: Random House USA Inc (28 Jun. 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394719409
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394719405
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 2.3 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 129,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
Read this with some initial trepidation. Was it going to be slushy or too abstractly theoretical to make any sense a la Althusser. The answer is neither. It still has a loud amplified resonance, not only for the USA but also the UK long after it was written nearly 40 plus years ago. The man sacrificing his time for his family by working 2-3 jobs and then demanding his rights when he returns makes perfect sense in the present. This is despite the sexual and feminist revolutions. It begins to explain why there is a high rate of divorce, the parallel lives of men and women never being articulated leading to communication and emotional frustration and breakdown. The man wanting his children to do better to avenge his own sense of failure also rings loud and clear. The children then growing away from their parents physically and culturally also dings dings dings.

Even the list of occupations which are deemed socially desirable also relate to the present. This is one of those sociology books embedded in the real, the here and now. I read it and learnt something from it, despite being involved in the therapeutic field for 25 years thinking I had heard and seen it all. It helped me to think and reflect on what people are trying to tell me, strips away ideology to look at the emotional damage class wields, the lack of self belief, the perennial judging of the individual, never feeling good enough but also the hope of something better.

It should be compulsory reading for all young people before the machine swallows them up into its bowels.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dan Smith on 17 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
A really interesting book that identifies the emotional trade-off between material goods and human beings.

Set in America, Sennett and Cobb identify the pernicious influences and how people "internalize" their emotions as a result.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
This is an excellent book about "lower-class" families. 23 Aug. 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
Life- Changing 19 Feb. 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.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
the working class under siege… 9 Dec. 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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