Privilege Lost: Who Leaves the Upper Middle Class and How They Fall

Jessi Streib
Oxford University Press
2020

There are two narratives of the American class structure: one of a country with boundless opportunities for upward mobility and one of a rigid class system in which the rich stay rich while the poor stay poor. Each of these narratives holds some truth, but each overlooks another. In Privilege Lost, Jessi Streib traces the lives of over 100 youth born into the upper-middle-class. Following them for over ten years as they transition from teens to young adults, Streib examines who falls from the upper-middle-class, how, and why don't they see it coming. In doing so, she reveals the patterned ways that individuals' resources and identities push them onto mobility paths--and the complicated choices youth make between staying true to themselves and staying in their class position. Engaging and eye-opening, Privilege Lost brings to life the stories of the downwardly mobile and highlights what they reveal about class, privilege, and American family life

book cover