Education: The Hidden Injuries of Class Begin in Earnest

  • Thomas J. Gorman


In this chapter, I start to delve deeply into the hidden injuries of class. Sennett and Cobb argue that members of the working class experience hidden injuries of class—frustration, anger, and bitterness—during their search for dignity in a capitalist society, because in such an economic system the working class are denied their fair share of self-worth (badges of ability based on educational credentials and occupational prestige). We will explore in this chapter my experiences with the educational system and its effects on my developing self-confidence (a central indicator of the overall effects of the injuries that research suggests can cause anger). We will also see how my parents’ and peers’ attitudes toward education—their “cultural capital”—are crucial for understanding how working-class kids get working-class jobs (Willis. Learning to Labor: How Working-Class Kids Get Working-Class Jobs. Aldershot: Gower, 1981). My early years attending a Catholic elementary school, and then a vocationally oriented high school, will be explored for their benefits and drawbacks. Finally, two important concepts will be brought into the discussion: “tracking” and the “hidden curriculum.” Clearly, I was on track to reproduce my parents’ social class position until a major turning point in my life, the divorce from my first wife (the “I” being important for this kind of research; see Ellis. Final Negotiations: A Story of Love, Loss, and Chronic Illness. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995 and Ellis. The Ethnographic I: A Methodological Novel About Auto-Ethnography. Walnut Creek: Alta Mira Press, 2004), which set me onto a new career path.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas J. Gorman
    • 1
  1. 1.Queens College, CUNYQueensUSA

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