The Missing Class by Katherine Newman & Victor Tan Chen
Portraits of the Near Poor in America

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Fifty-seven million Americans-including 21 percent of the nation's children-live a notch above the poverty line, and yet the challenges they face are largely ignored. While government programs assist the poor, and politicians woo the more fortunate, the "Missing Class" is largely invisible and left to fend for itself.

Missing Class parents often work at a breakneck pace to preserve the progress they have made and are but one divorce or unexpected hospitalization away from sliding into poverty. Children face an even more perilous and uncertain future because their parents have so little time to help them with their schoolwork or guide them during their adolescent years. With little supervision, the younger generation often flounders in school, sometimes falling prey to the same problems that are prevalent in the much poorer communities that border Missing Class neighborhoods. Paradoxically, the very efforts that enabled parents to get ahead financially often inhibit their children from advancing; they are in real danger of losing what little ground their parents have gained.

The Missing Class is an urgent and timely exploration that describes-through the experiences of nine families-the unique problems faced by this growing class of people who are neither working poor nor middle class. Katherine Newman and Victor Tan Chen trace where these families came from, how they've struggled to make a decent living, and why they're stuck without a safety net. An eloquent argument for the need to think about inequality in a broader way, The Missing Class has much to tell us about whether the American dream still exists for those who are sacrificing daily to achieve it.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Katherine Newman & Victor Tan Chen

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Katherine Newman is professor of sociology and James Knapp Dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. Author of ten books on middle-class economic instability, urban poverty, and the sociology of inequality, Newman has taught at the University of California-Berkeley, Columbia, Harvard, and Princeton.Victor Tan Chen is the founding editor and president of INTHEFRAY Magazine (, an award-winning publication that seeks to question, inform, and inspire conversations about identity and community. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Newsday and the Minority Law Journal, and in the book Chutes and Ladders. He is a Harvard doctoral candidate in sociology and social policy.From the Hardcover edition.
Published September 1, 2007 by Beacon Press. 273 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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These “forgotten but vital” Americans deserve respect for what they have already accomplished, the authors assert, and they need society’s support in housing, education, health care and job training if they are to keep hold of the gains they have made.

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Publishers Weekly

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In this compassionate and clear-eyed analysis, sociologist Newman and journalist Chen posit that the middle class gains of the 1990s have been imperiled by the recent rollback of New Deal–style government aid.

Jul 09 2007 | Read Full Review of The Missing Class: Portraits ...

News Review.

We’ve really got four or five Americas, and most of them are working really, really hard to make ends meet.

Nov 15 2007 | Read Full Review of The Missing Class: Portraits ...

Susan Lee

Gessen, a Russian American journalist and herself a critic of Putin, follows the personal histories of these three members: Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (Nadya), Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Stanislavovna Samutsevich (Kat).

Feb 27 2012 | Read Full Review of The Missing Class: Portraits ...

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