In his new book, Broke and Patriotic: Why Poor Americans Love Their Country
(Stanford University Press 2018), Professor Francesco Duina
asks why impoverished Americans espouse such great and abiding love for their country even as they suffer and struggle to get by. By many standards, America’s poor are objectively less well off than the poorest members of most other developed countries—they work longer hours, have lower chances of upward mobility, and experience some of the largest wealth and income gaps relative to the rich. Yet they espouse greater levels of patriotism than poor people nearly anywhere else. To understand this puzzle, Duina talked to poor Americans themselves, in laundromats, homeless shelters, bus stations, public libraries, senior centers, and fast food restaurants. Ultimately he identified three overarching narratives among those he spoke with centered around hope, prosperity, and freedom. He presents compelling statistics alongside extended interview excerpts to explain not only what poor Americans think but why what they think matters, not just for scholars but for the country and its future.
Carrie Lane is Professor of American Studies at California State University, Fullerton and author of
A Company of One: Insecurity, Independence, and the New World of White-Collar Unemployment. Her research concerns the changing nature of work in the contemporary U.S. She is currently writing a book on the professional organizing industry. To contact her or to suggest a recent title, email firstname.lastname@example.org.