Friday, January 25, 2013

Quote: Middle-class Consciousness

In this they displayed a broader middle-class consciousness engrossed by the personal, the familial, the professional, and the accidental. This is a class consciousness that has an authorizing tendency to personalize and privatize social problems, saving most of its public political energy for natural disasters and various campaigns for order, hygiene, and proper personal behavior. This is a class consciousness that always has something else on its mind: the bills, the errands, the cars, the house, the petty tyrannies of administrators, colleagues, relatives -- its seemingly absolute advantages and disadvantages. This is a class consciousness that escapes real public civic life because it is tired or busy or what can you do about it anyway? Go fill the car with gas. Your aunt called and did you send her a thank-you note? Answer the phone and by the way I'm going to the wedding this week, what should I wear? I've got to go to work, we'll talk later. It's none of our business. Did you see that woman buying ice cream with her food stamps? The middle class always wants things taken care of, done right, and is always complaining about what it is about to lose, as if the whole world would end if the middle collapses. It fears falling down where the others live and it craves success stories of whatever kind. But it is cowed by the lure of achievement, internalizing an aggressive inferiority it projects remarkably consistently, as it often sits waiting, distracted, while others act in its name. It hates authority and loves authority at the same time...

-- Avery F. Gordon (Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination, p. 133)

No comments: