(Dan here…I found Yves intro more appealing than the research…)
Yves here. While this article gives a very good high-level summary about how inequality is becoming institutionalized in American and the costs to those who see themselves as having lost the most, I wonder about the emphasis on hope as a remedy. Perhaps this is such a strong cultural bias in the US that there’s no escaping it as a motivator for most people. But I take to heart the interpretation of the Pandora’s Box myth that Hope being at the bottom of the box of all the evils she let loose was not a show of mercy by the gods, but simply a torment in disguise.
It’s not hard to imagine that the psychological damage done by loss of mobility and the relative status decline of lower-middle class individuals, particularly in rural areas, is made worse by media. Not only does TV show how the better-off half lives, TV and the movies regularly depict characters living in better circumstances than the incomes that go with their jobs would allow. One reason is that it’s almost impossible to shoot a scene in anything smaller than a pretty big room, so Americans (outside those meant to be upper class) in movies and TV look better housed than they generally would be in their real lives. And of course they all have great teeth.
Lack of Hope in America: The High Costs of Being Poor in a Rich Land is worth a quick read but I agree it is only a conversation starter for this blog. However, how our expectations are set and what we ascribe to ourselves and others is telling.