The Dignity of Working Men by Michele Lamont
The introduction to The Dignity of Working Men outlines the research Michele Lamont undertakes about working class individuals in America. She asserts that they are the "backbone of American society", important to understand because of their social and political power. The first part of the book analyzes working class American men and how they think and act. Lamont first states that white, middle class workers place themselves above the upper middle class because they see them as lacking in morals and relationship skills. These white men also separate themselves even further from blacks and the poor, attaching socioeconomic status with moral worth as opposed to the detachment of the two in the previous example.
In the second part of the book, Lamont fixates on the differences between French and American workers. French workers sympathize more with the poor and blacks to stand together against the upper class. Lamont also comments on not only the psychological causes of cultural differences, but on access to cultural resources as well as structural conditions.
Interestingly, the two countries analyzed, France and America, both tout themselves as democratic, places of equality and freedom. However, in these two countries, racism and prejudice exist and on a large scale at that, even though the two governments have acknowledged jumping over this hurdle. In addition, a major difference between the two countries is of the solidarity in France supporting the welfare state, while Americans show little if any reaction to the shrinkage of welfare support.
Lamont then jumps right into the interviews. She interviews many working class men, both white and black. She concludes that these working class men place morals more central to their value system. Most believe that honesty, hard work, and providing for their families are the most important things in life. However, with black workers, a difference lies on the...
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