The Other America: White working class views on belonging, change, identity and immigration

Report Author: 
Harris Beider, Stacy Harwood, and Kusminder Chahal
Original Date of Publication: 
2017 Jul

Throughout the 2016 presidential election cycle, campaign officials and members of the media used the term "white working class" to describe the supporters of Donald Trump. Through this qualitative study conducted during and after the election, the authors examine whether the definition and understanding of the "white working-class" are relevant to people who identify as white and working-class. The researchers conducted hundreds of interviews with community leaders and organized focus groups in five geographically diverse areas of the United States. They found that the criteria used to identify and analyze the white working-class-including education level, income and occupation-were too narrow and were adamantly rejected by individuals who self-identify as white working-class. Instead, study participants saw their group as characterized by a set of shared values, e.g. being honest, hardworking and providing for their families. Participants did not openly discuss "whiteness" but instead used coded language to lament changing demographics in their communities, which they associated with negative consequences like an increase in crime rates. They also felt that the value of "fairness" was being neglected, as some groups, they believed, received more favorable treatment than others. Finally, the study posits that one solution to this growing divide in America is organizing cross-racial coalitions so that white working-class and middle-class individuals can form relationships with immigrants and members of communities of color. For such coalitions to develop, however, will require investments in organizational capacity-building on the local level. (American Immigrant Policy Portal)

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 white working class views on belonging, change identity and immigration

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Citation: 

Beider, H., Harwood, S., & Chahal, K. (2017). The Other America: White working class views on belonging, change, identity and immigration (p. 64). Coventry, UK: Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations Coventry University. Retrieved from https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/bitstream/handle/2142/98458/Other%20Amer...

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