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The Sum of Small Things

A Theory of the Aspirational Class
Narrated by: Rachel Dulude
Length: 8 hrs and 35 mins

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Publisher's Summary

In today's world, the leisure class has been replaced by a new elite. Highly educated and defined by cultural capital rather than income bracket, these individuals earnestly buy organic, carry NPR tote bags, and breast-feed their babies. They care about discreet, inconspicuous consumption - like eating free-range chicken and heirloom tomatoes, wearing organic cotton shirts and Toms shoes, and listening to the Serial podcast. They use their purchasing power to hire nannies and housekeepers, to cultivate their children's growth, and to practice yoga and Pilates.

In The Sum of Small Things, Elizabeth Currid-Halkett dubs this segment of society "the aspirational class" and discusses how, through deft decisions about education, health, parenting, and retirement, the aspirational class reproduces wealth and upward mobility, deepening the ever-wider class divide.

©2017 Elizabeth Currid-Halkett (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"There is a lot to learn here about the contemporary face of income inequality." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

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  • pedro chacon
  • 20-12-18

great book good prospective

Really good read. Gives a great prospective on today's society and how it functions, I would recommend.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • rachel coyne
  • 15-11-19

Really interesting

Thoughtful, relevant analysis of real life trends. I enjoyed all the real world connections and macro view of trends


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  • Fred
  • 27-06-19

know thyself

Apparently, I am a member of the aspirational class. This book has helped me take another look at why I do what I do without causing anxiety, like many books of the sort do.
It did help me consider my snobbish behavior about my sister geting non-organic milk, or eating at fast food joints of our childhood.
It is a good listen.

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  • Elmira Cancelada
  • 06-06-19

Interesting ireseach and ideas, but dry

This is more of an academic paper on current and upcoming shift in social division.
A lot of numbers at the expense of illustrative and stories, alas. The good part: the author's conclusions are totally in line with the trends one observes around. The book is useful for the marketers of high-end goods.

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  • K
  • 21-05-19

Brilliant

This book provides an amazing and well-rounded assessment of social class and it’s contemporary manifestation.

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  • José
  • 22-09-18

Take the title literally

A significant part of the book is numbers and more numbers. Makes the mind wander right off.

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  • Emma
  • 27-02-18

What I already knew, but couldn't name

I really enjoyed this book. It really articulated a lot of concepts that I knew internally but wasn't sure how to express or prove. It was very easy to digest, too!

There really is a lot of hypocrisy and nonsense in modern culture, and a lot of it stems from our outdated assumptions about what money is worth and how it affects us. Our brains are stuck in the financial realities of the early 20th century, but the world and our economy has changed drastically since then.

Highly recommend!

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  • Find a Path with Heart
  • 11-01-18

Insightful, fact-based explanation of our various “identities”

This book provides a history of how various identity groups have formed in America, and what that means for our future and the world’s future.

Reading it should give you insight into “how come those other folks are like that?”

0 of 1 people found this review helpful