Joan C. Williams on the "class culture gap"

Benjamin Sachs

Benjamin Sachs is the Kestnbaum Professor of Labor and Industry at Harvard Law School and a leading expert in the field of labor law and labor relations. He is also faculty director of the Center for Labor and a Just Economy. Professor Sachs teaches courses in labor law, employment law, and law and social change, and his writing focuses on union organizing and unions in American politics. Prior to joining the Harvard faculty in 2008, Professor Sachs was the Joseph Goldstein Fellow at Yale Law School.  From 2002-2006, he served as Assistant General Counsel of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Washington, D.C.  Professor Sachs graduated from Yale Law School in 1998, and served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. His writing has appeared in the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, the Columbia Law Review, the New York Times and elsewhere.  Professor Sachs received the Yale Law School teaching award in 2007 and in 2013 received the Sacks-Freund Award for Teaching Excellence at Harvard Law School.  He can be reached at [email protected].

Joan C. Williams has a new piece up at the Harvard Business Review on What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class.  She predicts that the piece will be “so unpopular that [she] risk[s] making [her]self a pariah among [her] friends on the left coast,” and when you read the piece you can understand why she’s worried.  To take one example, she argues that:

Hillary Clinton, by contrast [to Trump], epitomizes the dorky arrogance and smugness of the professional elite. The dorkiness: the pantsuits. The arrogance: the email server. The smugness: the basket of deplorables. Worse, her mere presence rubs it in that even women from her class can treat working-class men with disrespect. Look at how she condescends to Trump as unfit to hold the office of the presidency and dismisses his supporters as racist, sexist, homophobic, or xenophobic.

There is much to debate about the piece.  Among other things, it can be read as suggesting a “white working class” that is culturally unified to the point of being monolithic (e.g., “the white working class resents professionals but admires the rich”). But, agree or disagree (or, more likely, agree in part and disagree in part), the piece is a must-read in light of last week’s results.

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