Social Justice Resource Project

Social Class


  • is a nonprofit organization. We don't advocate any particular policy or set of policies. Our aim is to circulate information and ideas that are not widely covered in the media. We encourage you to use the material you find here, giving credit where it's due. We are headquartered in New York City, with contributors from around the world.

  • Minimum Wage Challenge An interactive wage and household income game that allows the user to pit their current lifestyle agains the realities of $5.15 an hour.

Media Resources:

  • Roger and Me
    M. Moore (Writer and Director), Warner Home Video.

    Roger and Me is a loose, smart-alecky documentary directed and narrated by Michael Moore, an everyman host with a devastating wit and a working-class pose. When his hometown is devastated by the plant closure of an American corporate giant (making record profits, one should note), the hell-raising political commentator with a prankster streak tries to turn his camera on General Motors Chairman Roger B. Smith, the elusive Roger of the title, and the film is loosely structured around Moore's odyssey to track down the corporate giant for an interview.

Books, Book Chapters, & Journal Articles:

  • Brouwer, S. (2000). Sharing the pie, the sinking majority. Readings for diversity and social justice. M. Adams. New York; London, Routledge: 382 - 391.

    From the chapter: "The distribution of wealth in the United States is terribly unequal. The richest Americans, the top 1 percent, own almost half of the financial assets in our country. The affluent members of the upper middle class who make up the next 9 percent of the population own slightly more than one third of the wealth. THat leaves only about one sixth to be devided among everyone else. A rich person, on average, has about 230 times more wealth than a member of the huge majority of Americans, the 90 percent who own very little at all."

  • Ehrenreich, B. (2001). Nickel and dimed : on (not) getting by in America. New York, Metropolitan Books. Millions of Americans work for poverty-level wages, and one day Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that any job equals a better life. But how can anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 to $7 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich moved from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, taking the cheapest lodgings available and accepting work as a waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing-home aide, and Wal-Mart salesperson. She soon discovered that even the "lowliest" occupations require exhausting mental and physical efforts. And one job is not enough; you need at least two if you intend to live indoors.

    Nickel and Dimed reveals low-wage America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity -- a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate strategies for survival. Instantly acclaimed for its insight, humor, and passion, this book is changing the way America perceives its working poor.

  • Gilbert, D. L. (2003). The American class structure in an age of growing inequality. Belmont, CA, Wadsworth/Thomson Learning. The text is a current, concise treatment of America's ever-changing class structure. Updated throughout, this sixth edition focuses on change. Dennis Gilbert includes new data on topics such as the distribution of earnings and residential segregation by class to reveal a consistent pattern of growing inequality since the early 1970s. Why, Gilbert asks, is this happening? He examines change in the economy, family life, and politics in search of an answer. This book retains the strengths that contributed to the success of previous editions. It synthesizes the best empirical studies of class and inequality in American society, focusing on nine key variables: occupation, income, wealth, prestige, association, socialization, class consciousness, power, and social mobility. Critical attention is given to major studies, from the classic small-town ethnographies of the 1930s to contemporary analyses of national mobility data. Historical sections show how the class system has changed and continues to evolve. Two strong chapters examine the relationship between social class and politics.
  • Langston, D. (2000). Tired of playing monopoly. Readings for diversity and social justice. M. Adams. New York; London, Routledge: 397-402. From the chapter: "Magnin, Nordstrom, The Bon, Sears, Penny's Kmart, Goodwill, Salvation Army. If the order of this list of stores makes any sense to you, then we've begun to deal with the first question that inevitably arises in any discussion of class here in the United States - huh? Unlike our European allies, we in the United States are reluctant to recognize class differences. This denial of class divisions functions to reinforce ruling-class control and domination."
  • MacLeod, J. (1995). Ain't no makin' it : aspirations and attainment in a low-income neighborhood. Boulder, Westview Press. This expanded edition of Jay MacLeod's landmark study adds three new chapters that follow the Hallway Hangers and the Brothers into adulthood. Eight years later the author returns to Clarendon Heights housing project to find the members of both gangs struggling in the labor market or on the streets. Caught in the web of urban industrial decline, the Hallway Hangers-undereducated, unemployed, or imprisoned-have turned to the underground economy. But "cocaine capitalism" only fuels the desperation of the Hallway Hangers, who increasingly seek solace in sexism and racism. The ambitious Brothers have fared little better. Their teenage dreams in tatters, the Brothers demonstrate that racism takes its toll on optimistic aspirations. Ain't No Makin' It is the impassioned inside story of how America looks from the bottom-of immobility rather than success.
  • Shapiro, I. and R. Greenstein (1999). The widening income gulf, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. 2004.

    This data, which covers every year from 1977 to 1995 and include CBO projections for 1999, are generally regarded as the most reliable and comprehensive data available on the distribution of after-tax income in the United States. They include various forms of income that standard Census Bureau data miss, such as capital gains income and income from the Earned Income Tax Credit.

  • Sklar, H., L. Mykyta, et al. (2001). Raise the floor : wages and policies that work for all of us. New York, Ms. Foundation for Women. "They work full time in the richest nation on earth, yet they can’t make ends meet. They can’t make ends meet because their wages are too low. They are health care aides who can’t afford health insurance. They work in the food industry, but depend on food banks to help feed their children. They are child care teachers who don’t make enough to save for their own children’s education. . . . They care for the elderly, but they have no pensions."—from Raise the Floor