Is Class an Identity?

How to Cite

Ohmann, R. (2022). Is Class an Identity?. Radical Teacher, 123, 31–33.


 The students make their way through the world with sensitive compasses and gyroscopes that tell them also which neighborhoods in Brooklyn are homelike to them and which parts of Boston; which places have nothing to do with their lives (e.g., Staten Island and Paterson); where are the places to go after college (New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, Washington); where they might spend summers; what styles and fashions signify; how to speak in what Basil Bernstein called the "elaborated code" of the middle class;  how to place those who don't; how to avoid alienated labor by deploying credentials or creativity; and-- yes--whom to marry, should it come to such a pass. [...]most people don't so readily identify themselves by class as by gender or race, and perhaps don't even feel being working class or PMC the way they feel being white or male or straight or, especially, being Latino or black or female or gay--except of course when they are way out of their usual class habitat: a mechanic plunked down in the Century Club, say, or an English Professor at the Elks. [...]even such misadventures are not likely to endanger the displaced person, the way women and African Americans and gay men and others risk insult or violence in many venues. First generation college students, they had a big stake in believing anyone could make it in this country. [...]the ideology we take in with every breath has a lot to do with the many ways in which students at Wesleyan and at Middlesex Community College overlook or evade the hard reality of class.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Richard Ohmann