HIST 4400 - Riots, Reds, and Riffraff: A History of the American Working Class

Today, the richest 10% of Americans control more wealth than at any other time in U.S. history, and the wealthiest 400 Americans hold more wealth than the bottom 50% of income earners. At the same time, the wages of working-class Americans have not increased in real dollars since the 1970s. Today’s widening gap between the rich and the rest of us, and the yawning chasm that separates the rich from the poor, looks much like the class structure that emerged in the last four decades of the nineteenth century, when a few Gilded Age robber barons came to control enormous wealth while working-class Americans toiled for meager wages. Examining how and why this class structure developed, how working-class Americans understood and experienced work and their class status, and how the working class managed to organize themselves and their communities around the mission of democratizing the American workplace while also creating the idea of the American Dream. How and why, since the 1970s, the American working class has, in many ways, gone back to experiencing the massive inequities of the Gilded Age.
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