Class Histories and Class Theories in a Raceful Social World

in Harlemworld

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780226389981
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226390000 | DOI:
Class Histories and Class Theories in a Raceful Social World

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This chapter shows that an underclass/middle-class model of black America as two geographically segregated and bifurcated communities does not necessarily work in a place like Harlem. Harlemites at various socioeconomic levels live and work right next to one another every single day, a point that becomes salient in several short biographies of a few of the people whose voices are heard and whose experiences are shared throughout these pages. The chapter discusses the varied lives led by some of the Harlemites. These stories offer a picture of class diversity that is an important piece to the puzzle of performative raciality, a partial answer to the question of how race is seen through social practices. Despite patterned structural realities variously constraining the life chances of different categories of persons, class position is sometimes not a dead end. Important arguments about social mobility can get displaced in favor of sensationalist rhetoric of “underclass” imprisonment and “middle-class” alienation.

Keywords: middle class; Harlem; raciality; social world; black America

Chapter.  14578 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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