- Princeton University Press
Uneasy Street: The Anxieties of Affluence
- Rachel Sherman
- Princeton University Press
- 8 X 5.2 X 1 inches
- 0.65 pounds
- Social Science > Social Classes & Economic Disparity
A surprising and revealing look at how today's elite view their wealth and place in society
From TV's real housewives to The Wolf of Wall Street, our popular culture portrays the wealthy as materialistic and entitled. But what do we really know about those who live on easy street? In this penetrating book, Rachel Sherman draws on rare in-depth interviews that she conducted with fifty affluent New Yorkers--from hedge fund financiers and artists to stay-at-home mothers--to examine their lifestyle choices and understanding of privilege. Sherman upends images of wealthy people as invested only in accruing social advantages for themselves and their children. Instead, these liberal elites, who believe in diversity and meritocracy, feel conflicted about their position in a highly unequal society. As the distance between rich and poor widens, Uneasy Street not only explores the lives of those at the top but also sheds light on how extreme inequality comes to seem ordinary and acceptable to the rest of us.
Rachel Sherman is Professor of Sociology. She is broadly interested in how and why unequal social relations are reproduced, legitimated, and contested, and in how these processes are embedded in cultural vocabularies of identity, interaction, and moral worth. Empirically, she uses ethnography and in-depth interviewing to investigate service work, entitlement and lifestyle, and redistributive movements in the contemporary U.S. Her teaching includes courses on qualitative methods, class, work and labor, social movements, culture, and consumption.
Her first book, Class Acts: Service and Inequality in Luxury Hotels (University of California Press, 2007), draws primarily on participant observation research to analyze how workers, guests, and managers in these hotels make sense of and negotiate the class inequalities that mark their relationships.
Her second book, Uneasy Street: The Anxieties of Affluence (Princeton University Press, 2017), uses in-depth interviews to explore the lived experience of privilege among wealthy and affluent New York parents. The book has been covered or reviewed by the New York Times, the New York Post, the Times of London, Vice, the Financial Times, Commentary, Nature Books in Brief, and the BBC World Service. An adapted excerpt appeared at The Guardian. Sherman's essay for the New York Times Sunday Review, published in conjunction with the book, is here.
As a 2018-2020 Andrew Carnegie Fellow, she conducted research for her current book project, titled Class Traitors. Here she explores the world of wealthy progressives who are challenging the unequal social systems that have enabled their wealth--analogous to, and often overlapping with, white antiracists striving to dismantle systems of white supremacy. Class traitors work against accumulation and toward redistribution through social justice philanthropy and investing, partnering with grassroots social movements, and pushing policy alternatives such as higher taxes on the rich, as well as organizing other wealthy people. An early essay from that work is here.
She has also conducted research on the contemporary U.S. labor movement; on expert service work, especially the "lifestyle management" industry; the interactive artwork of Tino Sehgal; and food services in the airline industry.
- AB 1991, Brown University
- PhD 2003, University of California, Berkeley
Source: The New School
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