This study explores the popularity of individualism among White working-class Americans in light of the structural forces that have negatively impacted their lives in recent years. Findings are based on data from semi-structured interviews with 20 non-Hispanic White custodial workers from five Appalachian universities across three U.S. states: Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Participants were asked a variety of questions about the causes of poverty and economic inequality in the U.S. in general, as well as the causes of their own personal fortunes. Data were analyzed utilizing grounded theory methods. Participants were found to be highly individualistic both in explaining poverty and economic inequality in the U.S. in general, as well as in explaining their own lives. Our results suggest that individualism remains popular among White working-class Americans. We argue that growing inequality is experienced as “double violence” by working-class Whites, both as structural violence and symbolic violence. We discuss the challenges this poses for tackling persistent poverty and growing economic inequality in contemporary American society.
Eppard, Lawrence M., Dan Schubert, and Henry A. Giroux. "The Double Violence of Inequality: Precarity, Individualism, and White Working-Class Americans." Sociological Viewpoints 32, no. 1 (2018): 58-87. https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/610494_874069ae27654612ad8808984d91b4df.pdf