Class Matters Workshops

Download this brochure for more information on Class Matters workshops.

If you're interested in hosting a workshop, please click here for a brochure, or contact me about booking an event.

Order Class Matters

Class Matters book cover

Order Class Matters: Cross-Class Alliance Building for Middle-Class Activists by Betsy Leondar-Wright (New Society Publishers, 2005).

Press Coverage of CM

Classist Comments

What's the most classist thing you ever heard someone say?

(I'm not talking about someone like Bill O'Reilly or your right-wing uncle. More specifically, what's the most classist thing you ever heard a liberal or progressive person say?)

Read five interviewees' answers — and my own.

Class and Other Identities

How do you experience class differently because of your race, ethnic group, religion, gender, age, or other identity? What class dynamics do you notice within your identity groups?

Here's how a few visitors answered those questions:

And answers from the Class Matters book:

Working Definitions

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Professional Middle Class:

College-educated, salaried professionals and managers and their family members.

Signs that someone might belong to the professional middle class can include:

  • 4-year college, especially at private and/or residential schools, sometimes professional school;
  • secure homeownership, often with several moves up to bigger houses in a lifetime;
  • more control over the hours and methods of work than working-class people, and/or control over others' work;
  • more economic security than working class people (although that difference is eroding), but no way to pay bills without working.

Middle-class people are varied in race, culture, values and political beliefs; they are disproportionately white.

Upper-middle-class families have more in common with owning class families, such as more luxuries and travel, than most middle-class families.

Owning Class:

Investors and their family members with enough income from assets that they don't have to work to pay basic bills. A subset have positions of power or vast wealth that put them in the ruling class.

Signs that someone might belong to the owning class can include:

  • elite private schools and colleges;
  • large inheritances;
  • luxuries and international travel;
  • owning multiple homes.

However, people who live modestly on investment income are also owning class.

Owning class people are disproportionately white; they are varied in culture, values and political beliefs.

How Big Is Each Class?

About two-thirds of Americans are working-class, low-income or lower-middle-class. Fewer than one in ten Americans remains low-income for a generation or more, although many working-class people spend part of their lives in poverty. About 3% of Americans are owning-class. Almost a third of Americans are professional middle-class.

Class Self-Identifications

It's not true, as sometimes is said, that almost all Americans call themselves "middle class." That's only the answer when the choices are lower, middle, and upper. Few people want to call themselves "low class."

When "working class" is one of the options, then there's a big self-identified working class.

By Self-Identification 1998 Average of all years 1972-1998
Lower class 5% 5%
Working class 45% 46%
Middle class 46% 46%
Upper class 4% 3%

Source: National Opinion Research Center, available at Thanks to Jack Metzger, Politics and the American Class Vernacular, WorkingUSA, Summer 2003

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