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Life in the Working Class Family

Lillian B. Rubin, in Worlds of Pain: Life in the Working-Class Family, paints of portrait of her subjects in such a compassionate and thorough way that the reader sees this class as far more complex and diverse than is generally portrayed by the media. Rubin's study brings this class and its consciousness and culture to life and forces the reader to confront the suffering this class experiences as a result of socioeconomic injustices. Rubin makes all too clear that life in the working-class family is a hard one from birth to death.

In the 1992 introduction to the 1972 book, Rubin focuses on the fact that the intervening twenty years have brought little in the way of socioeconomic justice to this class: "Our inability to deal realistically with the question of class has remained relatively unchanged" (xv). Rubin's clear intent with this book is precisely to paint a realistic portrait of this class so that it might be treated more fairly in the future. As it is, this treatment is growing worse rather than better. Rubin writes that we have lost innocence in those twenty years and can no longer fool ourselves into believing that "anything [is] possible" (xxxviii). Although there has been some democratization of the working-class family, it is nevertheless "true that life in the working-class family is, in many ways, more precarious now [1992] than it was then [1972], especially at the economic level" (xxxviii).

Rubin portrays working-class childhood as one of general suffering and unhappiness:

Of the people I met, 40 percent had at least one alcoholic parent, usually but not always the father, almost as many were children of divorce or desertion, and 10 percent spent part of their lives in institutions or foster homes because their parents were unable, unwilling, or judged unfit to care for them (23).

Rubin asks "how did [the children of the working-class] grow?" and he answers, "with pain, bitterness, loneliness, anger,...

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Life in the Working Class Family. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 05:53, July 14, 2020, from