Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
This new book from libertarian scholar Charles Murray, which has already sent the chattering class into overdrive, frames—and decries—how our society has strayed from the traditional American values of religiosity, honesty, marriage, and industriousness. Part one of his analysis explains the formation of a new filtered upper class, an educated and wealthy elite, severely cut off from others in society, both geographically and culturally. Murray’s data-filled tables and graphs show that this new class is likelier to be married and regularly attend religious services, and is less apt to have children out of wedlock. Part two maps the “new lower class”—the growing American counterculture comprised of those who eschew the four cultural norms that Murray sees as defining the “American way of life”—which then perpetuates the income-linked achievement gap. (To ground this analysis in class, not race, he deals specifically in this book with the country’s white population and its cultural breakdown.) Part three explains why this rift matters: Murray’s main concern is that these two worlds lack an arena for interaction. His arguments—notably that graduates from elite schools tend to marry one another, make more money, live in “SuperZips” (zip codes saturated with elite residents), and afford their children better opportunities—have implicit ramifications for education. What’s unclear is whether Murray believes that better schools can help to heal the rift.
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 (New York, NY: Crown Forum, 2012).
Category: Additional Topics
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