Class Matters Workshops

Download this brochure for more information on Class Matters workshops.

If you're interested in hosting a workshop, please click here for a brochure, or contact me about booking an event.

Order Class Matters

Class Matters book cover

Order Class Matters: Cross-Class Alliance Building for Middle-Class Activists by Betsy Leondar-Wright (New Society Publishers, 2005).

Press Coverage of CM

Classist Comments

What's the most classist thing you ever heard someone say?

(I'm not talking about someone like Bill O'Reilly or your right-wing uncle. More specifically, what's the most classist thing you ever heard a liberal or progressive person say?)

Read five interviewees' answers — and my own.

Class and Other Identities

How do you experience class differently because of your race, ethnic group, religion, gender, age, or other identity? What class dynamics do you notice within your identity groups?

Here's how a few ClassMatters.org visitors answered those questions:

And answers from the Class Matters book:

Working Definitions

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Class in the US is a confusing and slippery topic. The definitions that make sense to one person may not make sense to another. These definitions are offered in hopes of starting a discussion with shared language.

What do we mean by class?

Class is relative status according to income, wealth, power and/or position.

What do we mean by working class, low-income, middle class, and owning class?

The U.S. has no hard and fast divisions between class groups. Income and wealth are both on spectrums, and most of us move a little up or down the spectrums during our lifetimes. Some people grow up in one class and live as adults in another.

For immigrants, there's another layer of confusion, as their class status in their country of origin is often different from their class status in the U.S.

Nevertheless, it can be useful for understanding class dynamics to clump people roughly into these four groups.

Working Class:

People who have some or all of these class indicators, and their family members:

  • little or no college education; in particular no BA from a 4-year college;
  • low or negative net worth (assets minus debts);
  • rental housing, or one non-luxury home long saved for and lived in for decades;
  • occupations involving physical work and/or little control in the workplace.

Lower-middle-class families are somewhat more prosperous and secure, but they have a lot in common with working class people, such as less college than a BA, and/or less control over their work, and/or fewer assets than professional middle-class families. If they own a small business, it can only survive by the proprietor's hands-on work.

Working-class people are varied in race, culture, values and political belief. They are majority white, but compared with the composition of the whole population, they are disproportionately people of color and women. Working-class people are more likely to have strong ethnic and religious identities than middle-class people.

Low-Income or Poor:

A subset of working class people who chronically can't get income sufficient to cover all their basic needs.

Signs that someone might belong to this class can include:

  • substandard housing or homelessness;
  • long-time use of public benefits, such as welfare, or charity;
  • chronic unmet needs for health care, food, or other necessities;
  • frequent involuntary moves, chaos and disruption of life.

Low-income people are varied in race, culture, values and political beliefs — although they are disproportionately people of color, women and children.

Because some low-income people see "poor" as a negatively loaded term, many activists use "low-income" as a more respectful term.

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