Celine-Marie Pascale

Nov 12, 2021

Living on the Edge

When Hard Times Become a Way of Life

Polity Press 2021

For the majority of Americans, hard times have long been a way of life. Some work multiple low-wage jobs, others face the squeeze of stagnant wages and rising costs of living. Sociologist Celine-Marie Pascale talked with people across Appalachia, at the Standing Rock and Wind River reservations, and in the bustling city of Oakland, California. Their voices offer a wide range of experiences that complicate dominant national narratives about economic struggles.

Yet Living on the Edge: When Hard Times Become a Way of Life (Polity Press, 2021) is about more than individual experiences. It's about a nation in a deep economic and moral crisis. It's about the long-standing collusion between government and corporations that prioritizes profits over people, over the environment, and over the nation's well-being. It's about how racism, sexism, violence, and the pandemic shape daily experience in struggling communities. And, ultimately, it's a book about hope that lays out a vision for the future as honest as it is ambitious.

Most people in the book are not progressives; none are radicals. They're hard-working people who know from experience that the current system is unsustainable. Across the country people described the need for a living wage, accessible health care, immigration reform, and free education. Their voices are worth listening to.

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