21A.235 American Dream: Exploring Class in the U.S.

As taught in: Spring 2007

Left: man in suit walking. Right: man in construction wear standing in unfinished brick window sill.

A business man and a construction worker, two jobs associated with different classes in the American socioeconomic hierarchy. This course explores how ideas about and performance of class shape our daily lives. (Composite image by MIT OCW. Original photos courtesy of Avi Flax [photos] and William Spaetzel, respectively.)




Prof. Christine Walley

Course Description

Americans have historically preferred to think of the United States in classless terms, as a land of economic opportunity equally open to all. Yet, social class remains a central fault line in the U.S. Subject explores the experiences and understandings of class among Americans positioned at different points along the U.S. social spectrum. Considers a variety of classic frameworks for analyzing social class and uses memoirs, novels and ethnographies to gain a sense of how class is experienced in daily life and how it intersects with other forms of social difference such as race and gender.

*Some translations represent previous versions of courses.