Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Jessi Streib's "Privilege Lost"

Jessi Streib is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Duke University. Her research uncovers mechanisms and builds theories about how social class inequality is experienced, reproduced, and alleviated. She is the author of The Power of the Past: Understanding Cross-Class Marriages.

Streib applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Privilege Lost: Who Leaves the Upper Middle Class and How They Fall, and reported the following:
Page 99 concludes the story of a young woman I call “Vana.” She had a college-educated professional parent – the definition of upper-middle-class membership – but she grew up with few resources associated with it. Her mother’s income as a teacher was relatively low for the upper-middle-class, and her mother’s mental illness meant that she did not regularly talk with Vana about school or work. Her father had also moved away when Vana was young, and he offered Vana little advice. Technically, Vana grew up in the upper-middle-class, but she did not receive many resources associated with it.

Privilege Lost answers the questions of which youth born into the upper-middle-class become downwardly mobile and how they fall. Vana’s story, showcased on page 99, is an exception to the rule. Most youth whose parents earned relatively little money and who rarely spoke with them about school and work entered downwardly mobile trajectories. This occurred not only because they received relatively few resources from their parents, but, as the book reveals, because of what youth did with them as well. In this regard that Vana was exceptional. She, unlike many of her peers raised with similar resource profiles, learned how to acquire enough resources to excel in school and work – and therefore to avoid downward mobility by becoming a college-educated professional herself.
Visit Jessi Streib's website.

--Marshal Zeringue