The Anxieties of Affluence
Princeton University Press 2017
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in AnthropologyNew Books in EconomicsNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in SociologyNew Books Network February 26, 2018 Michael O. Johnston
For her new book Uneasy Street: The Anxieties of Affluence (Princeton University Press, 2017), Rachel Sherman conducted in-depth interviews with fifty wealthy New Yorkers—including hedge fund financiers, corporate lawyers, professors, artists, and stay at home mothers—to try to understand their lifestyle choices as consumers in society and their perception of privilege. In the media and popular imagination, the wealthy are often presented as self-serving people who single-mindedly accrue and display social advantages for themselves and their children. Sherman’s findings destroy this stereotype. Instead, she found that the wealthy believed in diversity and meritocracy. They were often reluctant to talk about their wealth and were conflicted about their position in a class-based society. The rich wanted to see themselves as hard working people who give back and raise children with good values. They longed to be considered morally worthy and generally depicted themselves as productive and prudent.
Michael O. Johnston is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at William Penn University. He earned his doctoral degree in Public Policy and Public Administration from Walden University. His most recent paper, to be presented at the upcoming American Society for Environmental History conference, is titled “Down Lovers Lane: A Brief History of Necking in Cars.”