29. Limbo: Blue Collar Roots, White Collar Dreams by Alfred Lubrano
I was inspired to read this book by Dr. Crazy, and I agree with much of what she says in her review of it. I thought it was a really limited view of the experiences of people who grow up blue collar and move into the middle class world. My feelings about the book were that it was 1) not well written, 2) made many many sweeping generalizations that had no support and 3) presented what it was like to move from blue-collar to white-collar in a limited number of cases, but did not capture the diversity of experience had by people who do this. Anyway, the book was more interesting for conversations and thoughts it has sparked, than for what is actually in it. It made me think about my background a lot, and while I technically would say I grew up working class, I don't know if just poor is a better way to describe it. I definitely have had VERY different experiences than most of my PhD getting peers, but I don't feel a lot of angst about it, just amusement that they all assume I am just like them, when I am not. It is like I have a secret identity.
If you read the blog post I linked to above, and also this one, I think maybe I do relate more to the growing up without security idea, or just poor. I don't know what class I was in, as I did go to Catholic schools and my family values education above all else. However, we also got food from the food bank and Christmas gifts from the church and I did my homework by candlelight because of unpaid electric bills on several occasions. It is also interesting that Lubrano's straddlers move from class to class relatively linearly. Another aspect of my childhood was our switching between classes. When both my parents were employed I felt middle class, when they weren't, we were back to being poor. And now my parents are doing really well and are securely middle class, while I am still poor, but I fully expect that my poorness is temporary.
Anyway, I didn't think the book was really that good, but it made me think a lot of interesting thoughts.