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Young and Isolated

Author and sociologist Jennifer M. Silva recently wrote in The New York Times about young working-class Americans and the bleak future they face. Her new book, Coming Up Short: Working-Class Adulthood in an Age of Uncertainty, analyzes the diminishing work opportunities and skyrocketing educational costs confronting these “Young and Isolated” (to use the title of her Times article) Americans. Perhaps an even bigger concern, according to Silva, is that these young people no longer have the kind of social support network that their parents once took for granted. If you would like to learn more about the social problems Silva outlines, check out Coming Up Short, as well as these other titles.


Amazon Says: What does it mean to grow up today as working-class young adults? How does the economic and social instability left in the wake of neoliberalism shape their identities, their more...
Amazon Says: What does it mean to grow up today as working-class young adults? How does the economic and social instability left in the wake of neoliberalism shape their identities, their understandings of the American Dream, and their futures? Coming Up Short illuminates the transition to adulthood for working-class men and women. Moving away from easy labels such as the "Peter Pan generation," Jennifer Silva reveals the far bleaker picture of how the erosion of traditional markers of adulthood-marriage, a steady job, a house of one's own-has changed what it means to grow up as part of the post-industrial working class. Based on one hundred interviews with working-class people in two towns-Lowell, Massachusetts, and Richmond, Virginia-Silva sheds light on their experience of heightened economic insecurity, deepening inequality, and uncertainty about marriage and family. Silva argues that, for these men and women, coming of age means coming to terms with the absence of choice. As possibilities and hope contract, moving into adulthood has been re-defined as a process of personal struggle-an adult is no longer someone with a small home and a reliable car, but someone who has faced and overcome personal demons to reconstruct a transformed self. Indeed, rather than turn to politics to restore the traditional working class, this generation builds meaning and dignity through the struggle to exorcise the demons of familial abuse, mental health problems, addiction, or betrayal in past relationships. This dramatic and largely unnoticed shift reduces becoming an adult to solitary suffering, self-blame, and an endless seeking for signs of progress. This powerfully written book focuses on those who are most vulnerable-young, working-class people, including African-Americans, women, and single parents-and reveals what, in very real terms, the demise of the social safety net means to their fragile hold on the American Dream. less...
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Amazon Says: The 2013 National Book Award WinnerA New York Times Bestseller Selected by New York Times' critic Dwight Garner as a Favorite Book of 2013 One o more...
Amazon Says: The 2013 National Book Award WinnerA New York Times Bestseller Selected by New York Times' critic Dwight Garner as a Favorite Book of 2013 One of Amazon's Best Books of 2013 A New York Times Notable Book of 2013 A Washington Post Best Political Book of 2013 An NPR Best Book of 2013 A New Republic Best Book of 2013 One of Publishers Weekly's Best Nonfiction Books of 2013 A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of 2013 A riveting examination of a nation in crisis, from one of the finest political journalists of our generation American democracy is beset by a sense of crisis. Seismic shifts during a single generation have created a country of winners and losers, allowing unprecedented freedom while rending the social contract, driving the political system to the verge of breakdown, and setting citizens adrift to find new paths forward. In The Unwinding, George Packer, author of The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq, tells the story of the United States over the past three decades in an utterly original way, with his characteristically sharp eye for detail and gift for weaving together complex narratives. The Unwinding journeys through the lives of several Americans, including Dean Price, the son of tobacco farmers, who becomes an evangelist for a new economy in the rural South; Tammy Thomas, a factory worker in the Rust Belt trying to survive the collapse of her city; Jeff Connaughton, a Washington insider oscillating between political idealism and the lure of organized money; and Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley billionaire who questions the Internet's significance and arrives at a radical vision of the future. Packer interweaves these intimate stories with biographical sketches of the era's leading public figures, from Newt Gingrich to Jay-Z, and collages made from newspaper headlines, advertising slogans, and song lyrics that capture the flow of events and their undercurrents. The Unwinding portrays a superpower in danger of coming apart at the seams, its elites no longer elite, its institutions no longer working, its ordinary people left to improvise their own schemes for success and salvation. Packer's novelistic and kaleidoscopic history of the new America is his most ambitious work to date. less...
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