Routledge International Handbook of Working-Class Studies Now Available for Pre-Order

The Routledge International Handbook of Working-Class Studies is now available for pre-order from the publisher’s website here.

The book is edited by three former Working-Class Studies Association Presidents, Michele Fazio, Christie Launius, and Tim Strangleman. From the publisher’s website, the book:

is a timely volume that provides an overview of this interdisciplinary field that emerged in the 1990s in the context of deindustrialization, the rise of the service economy, and economic and cultural globalization. The Handbook brings together scholars, teachers, activists, and organizers from across three continents to focus on the study of working-class peoples, cultures, and politics in all their complexity and diversity. The Handbook maps the current state of the field and presents a visionary agenda for future research by mingling the voices and perspectives of founding and emerging scholars.

The Handbook features contributions from dozens of WCSA members! You can see the Table of Contents here.

2020 Working-Class Studies Association Awards for work produced in 2019

2020 Working-Class Studies Association Awards for work produced in 2019

July 5, 2020 (Download the press release here).

CONTACT: Cherie Rankin, immediate-past president and 2019 awards organizer

Each year, the Working-Class Studies Association (WCSA) issues a number of awards to recognize the best new work in the field of working-class studies. The review process of submitted work is organized by the past-president of the WCSA, and submissions are judged by a panel of three readers for each of the categories of awards.

Awards are normally awarded at the annual WCSA conference; due to the COVID-19 crisis and the postponement of the conference, awards have been announced privately to the winners and are being made public here.

This year’s winners and judges’ comments are listed below. Together these works demonstrate the scope and vitality of cultural and scholarly production in working-class studies, and they serve as an inspiration to future work in the field. With this year’s annual conference postponed, we are sharing the slide show of award recipients that would have been presented at the conference below:

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2020 Awards Slides


C.L.R. James Award for Published Book for Academic or General Audiences 

Christopher R. Martin, No Longer Newsworthy: How the Mainstream Media Abandoned the Working Class

Judges’ comments:

Martin “examines the shifts in journalistic trends that parallel both deindustrialization  and the conservative political turn from the late 1960s onward, paying particularly attention, for instance, to the increasing preference for upscale (middle- and upper-class) readers at the expense of labor reporting and stories by and about working people. He does a masterful job exploring how the term ‘job killer’ was adopted and deployed by conservative politicians and business elites as a way to undermine work meant to protect the social safety net, union efforts, environmental protections, and the like from Reagan until the present moment, and demonstrates that it is precisely those CEOs lauded in mass media as ‘job makers’ who are the real job killers.”

“Author Christopher Martin identifies reforms that promise to restore the visibility and voice of the working class, to the benefit of the media, the working-class majority, and indeed, the country as a whole. This book deserves the widest possible audience!”


Tillie Olsen Award for Creative Writing

Jodie Adams Kirshner, Broke: Hardship and Resilience in a City of Broken Promises

Judges’ Comments:

“Kirshner is a self-appointed defense attorney for Detroit’s leftovers. Her knowledge has depth and heart.”

“Excellent nonfiction work on the undoing of Detroit; love the way the author follows key players through the story with insider knowledge of the world she depicts. Rigorously researched. Important work. Exemplar we could turn to in envisioning other working-class stories of place.”

“Without succumbing to a single point of view, Jodie Adams Kirshner brings together a wide cast of those most affected and thereby opens the case of and for Detroit and our other large cities suffering financial strain. This is a book is worth reading for its essential story as well as its eloquence of style.”


John Russo & Sherry Linkon Award for Published Article or Essay for Academic or General Audiences

Pamela Fox, “Born to Run and Reckless: My Life as a Pretender.” From Popular Music and the Politics of Hope: Queer and Feminist Interventions.

Judges’ comments:

“Rich analysis and very useful movement between the musician autobiographies, theories of autobiography, and how the latter have to be complicated by a class analysis. Popular music narratives and experiences form a counter narrative to power, a ‘politics of hope’ in contrast to dominant narratives of class and disability, class as disability. Her suggestion of ‘reparative practices’ should be taken up in working-class studies and fleshed out.”


Studs Terkel Award for Media and Journalism

Alison Stine, “Last Days of the Appalachian Poverty Tour.”

Judges’ comments:

“The article is both reflective and hard-hitting with its push to illustrate for readers some of the main characteristics of impoverished communities, without over generalizing or stereotyping.”

“Provides a complex analysis that includes both the oppression and pain but also the resilience and community of working/poverty-class life.”

“As insightful as it was beautiful— poetic prose.”


Constance Coiner Award for Best Dissertation

Melissa Meade, In the Shadow of ‘King Coal’: Memory, Media, Identity, and Culture in the Post-Industrial Pennsylvania Anthracite Region

Judges’ comments:

“It is an affirmation of the importance of working-class stories and provides the working-class subjects with agency. The work also considers the intersections of race/ethnicity and gender in its examination of identity formation and also considers the ‘environmental classism’ which is a result of polluted and poisoned landscapes.”

“This is an excellent dissertation, and a valuable advancement of our knowledge regarding working class identity and media.”

“Soundly theorized, yet poignantly human and personal.  A new vantage point on an oft-studied region. The trope of the decades-long fire smoldering under this region of the country resonates powerfully in our current political environment.”


Jake Ryan and Charles Sackrey Award for a Book about the Working-Class Academic Experience (two awards)

Editor Jackie Goode, Clever Girls: Autoethnographies of Class, Gender and Ethnicity.

Judges’ comments:

“I really liked the timeliness of this book and the way the contributors dealt with the intersections of class, ethnicity, and gender. I also liked how the contributors dealt with both the public and the private spheres. Really interesting chapters and a very powerful conclusion.”

“This is an edited collection of autoethnographic essays on upward mobility through higher education for ‘clever girls’ mostly, but not entirely, from the British working class. It is a wonderfully evocative collection that really opens up the experience of class transition to the reader, positively inviting the reader to tell their own story – a wonderful use of autoethnography, and a great book for working class students and faculty alike, as well as having some appeal to a general public.”

Allison Hurst, Amplified Advantage: Going to a ‘Good College’ in an Era of Inequality

Judges’ comments:

“This is a hugely important book. By looking at different types of students in the American liberal arts college tradition, it demonstrates clearly and vividly that the situation for working class students in higher education is not simply one of equal opportunities or even equal access.”

“I think this book is particularly timely in terms of the recent admissions scandals, and I appreciated the personal perspective.”

“This is an excellent look in the sub-field of the sociology of higher education.”


Special thanks to those who served as judges:

Sarah Attfield

Jeanne Bryner

Luka Cheung

Jamie Daniel

Jessica Femiani

Nathan Heggins Bryant

Scott Henkel

Barb Jensen

Gary Jones

Lisa Kirby

Christie Launius

Jessica Pauszek

Cherie Rankin

Larry Smith

Jen Vernon

James Vanderputten

Joe Varga

Valerie Walkerdyne


Volume 5, Issue 1 of the The Journal of Working-Class Studies is out now!

Volume 5, Issue 1 of the The Journal of Working-Class Studies is out now at the journal’s website:

This issue includes a series of reviewed articles, a review essay, a student essay pod, and book reviews. Each can be accessed separately as a PDF file or the full issue can be downloaded here

Soliciting Nominations for the 2020-2021 WCSA Election of Officers and Committees

The WCSA Elections Committee is now accepting nominations for the following positions:

  • President – (three years; president-elect/president/past-president)

  • At-Large Steering Committee Members (two years; two vacancies)

  • Chair of the Elections Committee (three years; chair elect/chair/past chair)

  • Chair of the Working-Class Academics Section (three years; chair-elect/chair/past elect)

Nominations will remain open through July 23, 2020. Please submit your nominations, including self-nominations, as soon as possible. If you are nominating someone other than yourself, please make sure that the person nominated is willing to serve before submitting a nomination. When submitting a nomination please include the candidate’s name, the position for which they are being nominated, academic/professional status, contact email and a short biography.

Please email your nomination to the Chair of the WCSA Elections Committee Matti Ron at

Please note that ballots will only be sent to current WCSA members. You can check your membership status and renew at this link.


The WCSA Elections Committee

Black Lives Matter Solidarity Statement from the Working-Class Studies Association

The Working-Class Studies Association releases the following statement (also downloadable as a PDF here) in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and standing in solidarity with people around the world who are protesting against racist violence and fighting for racial justice:

Black Lives Matter

The Working-Class Studies Association supports the Black Lives Matter movement and stands in solidarity with people around the world who are protesting against racist violence and fighting for racial justice. Racism and racialized violence is, and has always been, interconnected with capitalist and colonial systems of oppression and exploitation.  In this regard, we stand strongly in support of the interconnected movements that are working to transform these violent and rapacious structures of racial capitalism which continue to perpetuate violence against racialized communities of color and formerly colonized peoples on every continent.  It is long past time to end that system, and bring a new world from the ashes of the old.

Black Lives Matter.

The history of the United States is a violently racist one, beginning with white settler colonists committing genocide on and dispossessing Native people from their lands, and violently enslaving and exploiting the labor of Black people. American society is still fundamentally structured by the continuing oppression of Black and racially minoritized peoples, systemic institutional racism, and economic exploitation.   This historical and ongoing structural racism creates the violence seen in police forces across the country and is responsible for the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the many other predominantly Black and Brown victims of police brutality. Such killings are a part of a long and ongoing history of lynching where violent racist white men – both police and civilian – murder Black people with impunity.

This kind of violent structural racism is not confined to the United States. In the UK, the police also disproportionality target Black and racialized ethnic minority people.  The police killing of Mark Duggan in 2011 sparked days of protest across the UK. In 2018 the British government unjustly deported members of the Windrush Generation – Black workers from the Caribbean who were invited to emigrate to Britain in the 1950s and 1960s. Australia was also built through white settler colonial violence.  The state continues its long history of murdering and incarcerating Indigenous people.  Since 1991, 437 Indigenous people have died in police custody in Australia. For centuries, racial capitalism and white settler colonialism have engaged in the systematic looting of the resources of the majority of the world’s Black, Brown and working-class communities. It has created misery and despair for Black and Brown peoples around the globe.  This must end.

Black Lives Matter.

In addition to being a contemporary example of racist police violence, as a working-class Black man, George Floyd’s situation of being laid off and looking for work due to the Covid19 pandemic also exemplifies another dimension of racial inequality that has been experienced disproportionately by Black and racially minoritized working-class people. The current crisis has clearly shown that Black and racially minoritized  people are made particularly vulnerable to the virus and to the economic effects of the pandemic by ongoing structural racism across nearly every institution. It reveals the ways that insecure work, homelessness, food insecurity, lack of adequate medical care, and underfunded educational institutions, lead to the poverty and despair that is then left to be solved through police violence, especially in racially minoritized working-class communities.

While the privileged few of the white and wealthy have been able to shield themselves from the worst effects of the pandemic, Black, Brown and working-class people have lost their jobs or have been forced to risk their health and lives by continuing to work  in essential roles, often for low wages and in unsafe conditions. We are not in this together. Black and Brown working-class communities have been brutally exploited for their labor and have suffered and died in disproportionate numbers due to these ongoing and institutionalized systems of inequality.

Black Lives Matter.

The Working-Class Studies Association is an international organization which promotes the study of transnational, multiracial working-class people and their cultures. We are a group made up of academics, activists, teachers, writers, poets, journalists, practitioners, students, artists and a wide range of others interested in developing the field of working-class studies. The aim of the Association is to highlight the diverse lives and experiences of multi-racial and multi-ethnic working-class peoples around the world. It also seeks to reveal how class works by examining capitalist class-based systems of inequality in order to advocate for a more just world for multiracial working-class peoples. Members of the Working-Class Studies Association live and work in many different countries and contexts and work to fight race and class-based inequalities and discrimination in our respective communities.

The Working-Class Studies Association loudly and with one voice condemns all forms of racist oppression and calls for an end to racist police violence. We commit ourselves, as both individual members, and as an organization, to working in solidarity with Black, Brown and working-class communities to dismantle ongoing systems of racial capitalism.

Black Lives Matter.

Fazio Wins University of North Carolina’s System Award for Teaching Excellence.

Past Working-Class Studies Association President, and Professor of English at the University of North Carolina-Pembroke, Michele Fazio has won the University of North Carolina’s System Award for Teaching Excellence.fazio

The award is the highest post-secondary award in the state of North Carolina. Fazio will be formally honored and will serve as UNC-Pembroke’s winter commencement speaker.

Congratulations Michele!

Advocating for Protection for Students and Front Line Workers in the COVID-19 Economy

Working-Class Studies Association Secretary Colby King, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at USC-Upstate in Spartanburg, SC, published a an op-ed this past week in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal advocating for better protections for students and front line workers in the COVID-19 economy. Colleges and universities have taken on tremendous efforts to slow the spread of the virus by moving instruction online. To effectively slow the spread of the virus and flatten the curve, though, we all need our communities to join in the efforts as well, he argues.

The op-ed is published on the Herald-Journal’s website here. An unedited draft of the letter which includes several embedded links to useful resources is available here: Upstate Covid Op-ed 6.

Are you supporting students and workers in your community? Please share your stories with WCSA! Tweet at us @wcstudies or e-mail us at And, feel free to adapt this letter for your own advocacy as appropriate!

WCSA Members Writing on Workers and the Working Class in the COVID-19 Economy

Amidst the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the dramatic changes in work, Working-Class Studies Association members have been writing about circumstances for workers and the working class.

At the Working-Class Perspectives Blog, Sherry Linkon wrote about how the move to online instruction is highlighting class disparities in higher education. Most recently, Sarah Attfield wrote about how working-class people “hold society together.” And a week earlier, Kathy Newman wrote about class, capitalism, and coronavirus at Disney’s newest attraction.

At the Everyday Sociology Blog, Colby King wrote about how the working class and service industry workers are on the front lines of the COVID-19 economy. 

How are you seeing the pandemic changing circumstances for workers and the working class? If you’ve got writing out about how the pandemic is reshaping work and life for the working class, let us know. Share links to your writing at @wcstudies on Twitter, or at and we will share it here.

WCSA Conference Postponed until 2021

WCSA members and friends,

All of us in WCSA hope that you are healthy, and doing as well as possible, given the state of our world.

We had hoped to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Center for Working-Class Studies at Youngstown State University by gathering together in that place, which has such significance for our organization, for our conference this year. However, we have decided to postpone until next year–we will not meet in person this year. Please look for further details, but we are planning now to celebrate the 26th anniversary of the Center in Youngstown, likely during May 2021.

Our activism, research, teaching, and our acts of solidarity in the world are always important, yet they seem especially keen now. How we walk through global crises concerns us a great deal. As an organization, we will continue to be a space–both literal and virtual–for thinking together about what we are facing collectively. As an organization focused on working-class issues, in all their intersectional ways, let us remember, think about, talk about, and teach about the ways that this crisis is also about class inequality. As scholars, and for our students and community allies, we face an unprecedented disruption of our lives. What would it mean to center working-class solidarity as we dedicate ourselves to a deeper mission for our work? What kinds of mutual aid are best suited to help us through a pandemic? How can we build institutions and systems that value solidarity and health over profit? How can we build a better world in the wake of this pandemic?

As we walk this path, we hope to glimpse in our activism, research, and teaching what a better world may be. Please visit us here on the WCSA website to see updates about what our members are doing, and to join or renew your membership. Please also check out the Journal of Working-Class Studies, and look for our next issue this June.

We hope you are safe and healthy. We will also look forward to seeing you in Youngstown in 2021.


Scott Henkel, President
Cherie Rankin, Past President
Allison Hurst, President-Elect
Working-Class Studies Association