Class Overtakes Race as the Great American Divide

Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam recently told activists that class division has become the dominant form of social difficulties in America, and that the problem is getting worse.

What's the Latest Development?

Speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Saturday, Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam alerted activists to the fact that class division has become the dominant form of social difficulties in America, and that the problem is getting worse. "Non-white folks with a college education are looking more and more like white folks with a college education and white folks who haven't gotten beyond high school are looking more and more like nonwhite folks who haven't finished high school," said Putnam. While race and poverty have deep historical roots, they no longer seem to reflect America's political reality. 

What's the Big Idea?

American society has transformed in two separate ways, says Putnam, which make it important to address class divisions by discussing social mobility directly. "Over the last 30 years there has been a remarkable growth in the black middle class while at the same time we've seen a collapse in the white working class, especially when it comes to family structure," Putnam said. "By continuing to frame the conversation as one about poverty rather than one about social mobility, even well-intentioned advocates are continuing to frame the conversation as a discussion of the problem, rather than the objective."

Photo credit:

Compelling speakers do these 4 things every single time

The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rally at the Anaheim Convention Center on September 8, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Barbara Davidson/Getty Images)
Personal Growth

The ability to communicate effectively can make or break a person's assessment of your intelligence, competence, and authenticity.

Keep reading Show less

Scientists invent method to extract gold from liquid waste

The next gold rush might take place in our sewers.

Surprising Science
  • Even though we think of it as exceedingly rare, gold can be found all around us.
  • The trouble is, most of the gold is hard to get at; its too diluted in our waste or ocean waters to effectively extract.
  • This new technique quickly, easily, and reliably extracts gold from most liquids.
Keep reading Show less

How 'dark horses' flip the script of success and happiness

What defines a dark horse? The all-important decision to pursue fulfillment and excellence.

Big Think Books

When we first set the Dark Horse Project in motion, fulfillment was the last thing on our minds. We were hoping to uncover specific and possibly idiosyncratic study methods, learning techniques, and rehearsal regimes that dark horses used to attain excellence. Our training made us resistant to ambiguous variables that were difficult to quantify, and personal fulfillment seemed downright foggy. But our training also taught us never to ignore the evidence, no matter how much it violated our expectations.

Keep reading Show less