Higher Education: The Great Equalizer?
By Kay Hymowitz
The literature on inequality tends to be a hard slog, dense with charts and graphs, and clogged with technical detail about wealth vs. income, capital, the 1%, the .01% and the .001%. Journalist George Packer aimed at something more relatable in his National Book Award–winning The Unwinding, the personal stories of a cross section of six Americans ranging from an assembly line worker-community organizer in Youngstown, Ohio, to a former staffer for Joe Biden. But while his subjects’ struggles in the twenty-first century economy were movingly depicted, they were ultimately isolated actors whose unique drama and psychology seemed pressed into service to represent the author’s a priori vision.
Paying for the Party, by the sociologists Elizabeth Armstrong and Laura T. Hamilton, is more narrow in focus, yet it manages to give a rich portrayal of America’s most fundamental class divide with a group of individuals at the most formative period of their lives in a single, familiar environment. It is the most clear-eyed look at class in contemporary America I’ve seen. It may also be the most disheartening. READ MORE HERE