A Review of ‘Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010′

by on January 13th, 2011
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Charles Murray is well known for his controversial book: the Bell Curve, but once again, he has come out with another controversial book called “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.” In this book, he argues that there is an obvious growing gap between the upper class and lower and middle class Americans, in this case, he focused on the majority population: White Americans. In this book, he demonstrates that these two groups are growing so far apart that they have nothing left in common. For example, he describes the “superzips”, which are the superzip codes of the upper class, which are not only in the 1%, but actually in the top quarter of 1% of the upper class.

He also demonstrates that the upper class have differences in their viewership of television and entertainment in general. In his book, he shows that the Average American spends 35 hours a week watching TV, while the upper class are reading and engaging in social and volunteering activities. Murray also demonstrates stark differences in time of marriage and starting a family; as one can assume, the upper class are marrying much later and having children much later if at all. Meanwhile, the lower and middle class are either having children out of wedlock, or more likely to be divorced.

In “Coming Apart,” Murray discusses a term called social trust, in which “people around you will do the right thing” and with statements that people can be fair and generally trusted”. In the lower class communities, the levels of social trust in his surveys are down to 20% agreeing with the latter comments.
The ramifications of high social capital and social trust is that the neighborhoods tend to be safer and people even tend to leave their house doors open. “People in low social capital communities are generally less satisfied than those in higher social capital communities”, Murray argues.


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