Chapter

Middle-Class Respectability in Twenty-First-Century America

Steven Brint and Kristopher Proctor

in Thrift and Thriving in America

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199769063
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199896851 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199769063.003.0019
Middle-Class Respectability in Twenty-First-Century America

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This chapter surveys the economic, work, and lifestyle habits of the “professional-managerial” class—those strata of citizens who have traditionally been thrift's most consistent and enthusiastic boosters. Evidence resists the popular impression (and caricature by social critics) that this group is today among the most consumerist of Americans. It is shown that although members of this class are relatively more likely to think of their consumption as an opportunity for self-expression, this is neither crass materialism nor does it lack in strenuous forms of self-restraint. It is also shown that rather than material scarcity, the most precious, and by far the rarest, resource in their lives is time. Thus, far from a riot of hedonism and permissiveness, these Americans are, on the whole, a highly disciplined group. Due to the increasing pressures of global capitalism, which has seen the professional-managerial stratum become a truly worldwide phenomenon, it appears they have to be disciplined if they want to stay competitive.

Keywords: professional-managerial class; thrift; consumerism; consumption; global capitalism

Chapter.  11716 words. 

Subjects: Economic Sociology

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