Citations Needed

Citations Needed is a podcast about the intersection of media, PR, and power, hosted by Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson.

https://www.facebook.com/citationsneeded/

subscribe
share



 

Episode 91: It's Time to Retire the Term "Middle Class"


“Building a wall won't save America's crumbling middle class,” Elizabeth Warren tells us. “Sanders healthcare will raise taxes on the middle class,” a CNN headline reads. “There’ war on the middle class,” a Boston Globe editorial laments.     The term “middle class” is used so much by pundits and politicians, it could easily be the Free Space in any political rhetoric Bingo card. After all, who’s opposed to strengthening, widening, and protecting the “middle class”? Like “democracy,” “freedom,” and “human rights”, “middle class” is an unimpeachable, unassailable label that evokes warm feelings and a sense of collective morality.   But the term itself, always slippery and changing based on context, has evolved from a vague aspiration marked by safety, a nice home, and a white picket fence into something more sinister, racially-coded, and deliberately obscuring. The middle class isn’t about concrete, material positive rights of good housing and economic security––it’s a capitalist carrot hovering over our heads telling us such things are possible if we Only Work Harder. More than anything, it's a way for politicians to gesture towards populism without the messiness of mentioning––much less centering––the poor and poverty.   This week we are joined by Jane McAlevey, a union organizer, scholar and Senior Policy Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley’s Labor Center.


share





   54m