Many Americans, holding fast to the American Dream and the promise of equal opportunity, claim that social class doesn't matter. Yet the ways we talk and dress, our interactions with authority figures, the degree of trust we place in strangers, our religious beliefs, our achievements, our senses of morality and of ourselves—all are marked by social class, a powerful factor affecting every domain of life. In Facing Social Class, social psychologists Susan Fiske and Hazel Rose Markus, and a team of sociologists, anthropologists, linguists, and legal scholars, examine the many ways we communicate our class position to others and how social class shapes our daily, face-to-face interactions—from casual exchanges to interactions at school, work, and home. Facing Social Class exposes the contradiction between the American ideal of equal opportunity and the harsh reality of growing inequality, and it shows how this tension is reflected in cultural ideas and values, institutional practices, everyday social interactions, and psychological tendencies. Contributor Joan Williams examines cultural differences between middle- and working-class people and shows how the cultural gap between social class groups can influence everything from voting practices and political beliefs to work habits, home life, and social behaviors. In a similar vein, Annette Lareau and Jessica McCrory Calarco analyze the cultural advantages or disadvantages exhibited by different classes in institutional settings, such as those between parents and teachers. They find that middle-class parents are better able to advocate effectively for their children in school than are working-class parents, who are less likely to challenge a teacher's authority. Michael Kraus, Michelle Rheinschmidt, and Paul Piff explore the subtle ways we signal class status in social situations. Conversational style and how close one person stands to another, for example, can influence the balance of power in a business interaction. Diana Sanchez and Julie Garcia even demonstrate that markers of low socioeconomic status such as incarceration or unemployment can influence whether individuals are categorized as white or black—a finding that underscores how race and class may work in tandem to shape advantage or disadvantage in social interactions. The United States has one of the highest levels of income inequality and one of the lowest levels of social mobility among industrialized nations, yet many Americans continue to buy into the myth that theirs is a classless society. Facing Social Class faces the reality of how social class operates in our daily lives, why it is so pervasive, and what can be done to alleviate its effects.
Liberal democracies are based on principles of inclusion and tolerance. But how does the principle of tolerance work in practice in countries such as Germany, France, India, South Africa, and the United States, where an increasingly wide range of cultural groups holds often contradictory beliefs about appropriate social and family life practices? As these democracies expand to include peoples of vastly different cultural backgrounds, the limits of tolerance are being tested as never before. Engaging Cultural Differences explores how liberal democracies respond socially and legally to differences in the cultural and religious practices of their minority groups. Building on such examples, the contributors examine the role of tolerance in practical encounters between state officials and immigrants, and between members of longstanding majority groups and increasing numbers of minority groups. The volume also considers the theoretical implications of expanding the realm of tolerance. Some contributors are reluctant to broaden the scope of tolerance, while others insist that the notion of "tolerance" is itself potentially confining and demeaning and that modern nations should aspire to celebrate cultural differences. Coming to terms with ethnic diversity and cultural differences has become a major public policy concern in contemporary liberal democracies, as they struggle to adjust to burgeoning immigrant populations. Engaging Cultural Differences provides a compelling examination of the challenges of multiculturalism and reveals a deep understanding of the challenges democracies face as they seek to accommodate their citizens' diverse beliefs and practices.
Educators and policymakers who share the goal of equal opportunity in schools often hold differing notions of what entails a just school in multicultural America. Some emphasize the importance of integration and uniform treatment for all, while others point to the benefits of honoring cultural diversity in ways that make minority students feel at home. In Just Schools, noted legal scholars, educators, and social scientists examine schools with widely divergent methods of fostering equality in order to explore the possibilities and limits of equal education today. The contributors to Just Schools combine empirical research with rich ethnographic accounts to paint a vivid picture of the quest for justice in classrooms around the nation. Legal scholar Martha Minow considers the impact of school choice reforms on equal educational opportunities. Psychologist Hazel Rose Markus examines culturally sensitive programs where students exhibit superior performance on standardized tests and feel safer and more interested in school than those in color-blind programs. Anthropologist Heather Lindkvist reports on how Somali Muslims in Lewiston, Maine, invoked the American ideal of inclusiveness in winning dress-code exemptions and accommodations for Islamic rituals in the local public school. Political scientist Austin Sarat looks at a school system in which everyone endorses multiculturalism but holds conflicting views on the extent to which culturally sensitive practices should enter into the academic curriculum. Anthropologist Barnaby Riedel investigates how a private Muslim school in Chicago aspires to universalist ideals, and education scholar James Banks argues that schools have a responsibility to prepare students for citizenship in a multicultural society. Anthropologist John Bowen offers a nuanced interpretation of educational commitments in France and the headscarf controversy in French schools. Anthropologist Richard Shweder concludes the volume by connecting debates about diversity in schools with a broader conflict between national assimilation and cultural autonomy. As America's schools strive to accommodate new students from around the world, Just Schools provides a provocative and insightful look at the different ways we define and promote justice in schools and in society at large.
As the world gets smaller, hotter, and flatter, people from different cultures are colliding like never before: 1) East Asian students now dominate Western schools and workplaces, yet crash into the so-called "bamboo ceiling" before reaching the top. 2) Women are getting stuck as they rocket up the corporate ladder, while men are falling off the ladder altogether. 3) The have-nots still struggle in the classrooms of the haves, widening the gap between rich and poor. 4) Many Blacks, Latinos, and other people of color know that discrimination keeps them down, while many Whites sincerely believe that race no longer matters. 5) The politics of conservative Protestants frighten Americans of other religions, while the politics of more mainstream traditions infuriate the conservatives. 6) Midwesterners and Southerners get depressed when they relocate to the Coasts, and vice versa. 7) Despite the need for more collaboration, partnerships between governments, businesses, and nonprofits too often fail. 8) Governments in the Global North and Global South still can't agree about what counts as "fair," "honest," and "efficient." Although each of these eight conflicts seems unique, we reveal that many stem from the same root cause: the tension between people using the independent, separate, and in-control side of their selves, versus people using the interdependent, connected, and adjusting side. We also show how people can nudge their cultures to call forth their best selves. By knowing when and how to use our different selves, we may not just survive, but thrive in the 21st century.
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