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The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  158 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Fifty-seven million Americans-including 21 percent of the nation's children-live a notch above the poverty line, and yet the challenges they face are largely ignored. While government programs assist the poor, and politicians woo the more fortunate, the "Missing Class" is largely invisible and left to fend for itself.

Missing Class parents often work at a breakneck pace to
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by Beacon Press (first published January 1st 2007)
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Huma Rashid
Oct 16, 2011 Huma Rashid rated it it was amazing
"The Missing Class" is defined by its authors as being comprised of families of four that make between $20,000-$40,000 annually, based on figures in 2002. I grew up in the Missing Class. My father had been in the US since the 70s, and in 82 he married my mom and they moved to Boston. I was born four years later, and my mother was living on a university stipend (she went to school and also taught at Boston University while I was little) and my father worked his way up from a teller to a manager a ...more
Mar 06, 2008 Meghan rated it liked it
This book has a lot of very good information, but it was a little hard to follow because of the way it was organized. It's hard to keep track of which family is which and I think the overall message of the book was weakened a little by the lack of continuity in the narrative. It would have also been useful to have examples from other parts of the country besides New York City, possibly in some more suburban and rural areas as well. I'm sure the near poor exist there as well.
Mar 13, 2008 Diane rated it it was ok
I read this at the suggestion of my sociology professor. It's about a bunch of people who make stupid mistakes with their money that they can't afford to make. Not that anyone is perfect, but hello! If you're making $7.50 an hour at a factory job, you can't afford a $3500 liposuction, or a $10,000 wedding. I'm just saying.
Oct 22, 2008 Jim is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
What ever happened to the American Dream? Talk radio in America would have you think that hard work and sacrifice will lead to success in America. But that isn't the case for many people as The Missing Class documents.
Mar 02, 2015 Dee rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2015
book was interesting but dry in many places - i had a hard time feeling sympathetic/emphathetic for some of the featured people
May 10, 2008 Danielle rated it it was amazing
Newman and Chen spent 7 years following 9 New York families who they deemed part of the missing class. According to them the missing class is that class of people who fall just above the poverty line, but do not make enough money to qualify as lower middle class. In some respects they may often be worse off then those people who fall below the poverty line because they are usually no longer eligible for certain types of aid like Medicaid or AFDC. On the other hand they are often more likely to b ...more
Danni Green
Sep 24, 2015 Danni Green rated it liked it
This book shows the intimate and personal details of the lives of real families who fall into the category which the authors define as "near-poor". It definitely has some issues. The writing style seems intended to dramatize the stories in ways that are unnecessary; these stories really speak for themselves and the editorial attempts at attention-grabbing weakened the narratives rather than enhancing them. It also led to some microaggressive moralizing that really made it challenging to just tak ...more
Nov 17, 2010 Michelle rated it liked it
The subtitle, "Portraits of the Near Poor in America", is right. While I can understand that a tremendous amount of time had to be spent interviewing the families, I can't understand the need to show it off rather than tie these personal stories to particular policy proposals that might one day help them. Each look into a different family's struggle is distressing, leaving one with the feeling that we need to throw more money into the system. But WHERE. HOW? People know that poverty exists and c ...more
Sep 16, 2008 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
The Missing Class discusses the class of people sandwiched between the truly poor and the middle class. The authors call this class the "missing class" because they are not quite poor enough to be included when poverty issues are discussed, but they are not as well-established as most middle class people. These are the people who are on the edge of falling into or back into poverty. The authors follow nine families in New York City for seven years to see what their lives are like and what kinds ...more
Dec 07, 2009 Stefani rated it liked it
You know, I originally wrote about a few paragraphs about this book and then decided it wasn't worth the space on Goodreads, and hit the delete button. I have kind of maxed myself out on sociology books recently, and this book kind made me hit my threshold. Essentially, the author profiles a few families in the "Middle Class", who work, but are still poor, who only miss the definition of "impoverished" by a few thousand dollars a year, according to the government standard. They linger somewhere ...more
Carla Herbert
Mar 14, 2011 Carla Herbert rated it liked it
Upon reading the title, I had hoped that the authors would reach outside the bounds of traditional reporting and find the true missing class. Unfortunately they allowed their book to become nothing more than a book that highlights the plight facing one of our most impoverished people, immigrants. They highlight they issues facing immigrants, but fail to bring any new knowledge or information to he subject matter. In addition, they also fail to help create sustainable solutions. I expected a well ...more
Shelby Stump
The book The Missing Class, in my opinion was not a good read. This is a non-fiction book that deals with different families and their struggle of being below middle class but above the poverty line. It skipped around from a lot of different families and wouldn't tell their end of the story until some where later on in the book. It dealt more on immigrants and races. The book was very unorganized in my opinion. The issue of this book is poverty and how it is affecting below middle class families ...more
Shelby Stump

Shelby Stump's review Dec 11, 13

The book The Missing Class, in my opinion was not a good read. This is a non-fiction book that deals with different families and their struggle of being below middle class but above the poverty line. It skipped around from a lot of different families and wouldn't tell their end of the story until some where later on in the book. It dealt more on immigrants and races. The book was very unorganized in my opinion. The issue of this book is poverty and how it is affec
Oct 15, 2007 RF rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: social justice minded friends interested in economic issues.
I heard about this on NPR and got it at the library. It is very similar to "Nickeled and Dimed." The book follows the story of 9 families who are above the poverty line, but below "stability." We learn about the challenges of those who are working hard to provide for their families, and the precariousness of their economic position. Issues of education, gentrification, broken families, parenting, generational success or failure, immigration are all part of this complex issue.

These issues can be
Scott Jensen
Mar 17, 2008 Scott Jensen rated it liked it
Ahh, a real treat for a person who can relate with the title. Based on a rather large socio-economic study conducted in the New York City area, this book really paints portraits of families and individuals that I could relate with (geographically and financially). It was a fantastic read, right up until the final two pages when the authors began to get opinionated. The ideas (so-called solutions) they had for helping the Missing Class were off-the-wall. My advice: just skip the last two pages.
Apr 03, 2008 Bella rated it really liked it
Shelves: finance-econ
This is one of many books I've read about the poor (or in this case, almost-poor) working class in America. However--I recently had the revelation that it really doesn't matter how much money you make, it's how much money you spend and save that truly matters. Still, this book was interesting to read but I wish they hadn't concentrated on NYC-based families. I would've liked to seen a scattering of families across the country to see stories of the working almost-poor in different areas and lower ...more
Victoria Grusing
Aug 26, 2013 Victoria Grusing rated it liked it
Learned that I had been part of lowest paid missing class; but paid for my home and both daughters to get there Bachelor Degrees. No fancy, clothes, hair or nails. Five vacations in 32 years of marriage. We are fortunate and happy. Much depends on saving whatever is left over from paying rent, utilities and basic food prepared at home, economical transportation. We have a content life in our retirement. Both daughters are employed. Sometimes working three jobs is necessary; but saving all the ex ...more
Maria Ziemer
Jan 27, 2008 Maria Ziemer marked it as to-read
I heard about this book from my friend Charity Fesler, whose reading group was discussing it during my visit to Princeton in January 2008. Written by a Princeton University professor, the book presents the issues faced by "the missing class," the working poor hovering on the brink of poverty, those families who are just one accident/tragedy/hospitalization/layoff away from falling into poverty. Though I had only read the first chapter prior to the discussion, the group conversation was fascinati ...more
Tiffoknee the 3rd Conner
Mar 27, 2008 Tiffoknee the 3rd Conner rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in social commentary.
Recommended to Tiffoknee the 3rd by: Bill Moyers
This was a fascinating, accessible read. The authors do a fantastic job telling the stories of this 'Missing' Class whose good fortune is often not enough to pry them from the grip of disadvantage. If more social scientists wrote in this fashion I'd probably read more social science. As it is, I tend to lean more toward humanistic examinations of these very important subjects. I enjoyed this book.
Feb 23, 2009 Benjamin added it
Shelves: recentreads
This book delivered in exactly the way promised by the title and the jacket. Yet, I was hoping for a bit more. To be honest, I wanted more of a policy discussion, rather than details of the 7 year histories of 9 families living on the edge of poverty. But if you want to understand the way certain decisions can cause consequences that spiral out of control, this is a very good book.
Jan 08, 2008 Audrey rated it liked it
This sounded like an interesting book. It is somewhat interesting. I'm a bit disappointed that the author only uses examples from New York City. They can't possibly represent the U.S. as a whole.
Mar 19, 2009 Operaista rated it liked it
More liberal/progressive doing a whole bunch of analysis, but this time failing to connect the dots...really, it would be great if just once I weren't left disappointed by going, "ok, this academic is finally going to come out and say the system is oppressive beyond repair...nope, missed it."
Rebecca Stickel
Feb 11, 2008 Rebecca Stickel rated it really liked it
this book offers a fascinating (and daunting) look at a number of different families living just above the poverty line in America.
Sep 29, 2014 Margaret rated it liked it
More anecdotal than analytical.
Feb 07, 2013 Chrisolu rated it it was amazing
About that group of working class people who make too much for government benefits but too little to be truly middle class. Any small emergency plunges them into debt.
Jaena4 Beadling
Jan 13, 2010 Jaena4 Beadling rated it it was amazing
This is a great book - very easy to read but also nuanced and detailed in its analysis of the "near poor."
Jan 30, 2008 Steve rated it really liked it

Case studies of families in NYC's poorest neighborhoods
Ruth rated it it was amazing
Oct 25, 2015
David rated it it was amazing
Mar 28, 2008
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Katherine Newman is Professor of Sociology and James Knapp Dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. Author of several books on middle class economic instability, urban poverty, and the sociology of inequality, she previously taught at the University of California (Berkeley), Columbia, Harvard, and Princeton.
More about Katherine S. Newman...

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