Welcome to the Great American Middle Class: From the American Dream to Deep Solidarity

  • Joerg Rieger
Part of the New Approaches to Religion and Power book series (NARP)


For a long time, the American middle class assumed that it was living the American Dream. A certain standard of personal wealth, job security, and social benefits were taken for granted. Motivated by religious injunctions to “love your neighbor as yourself” and a feeling of noblesse oblige, people were willing to “give back” to the community. Volunteer spirit is higher in the United States than in many other countries. Charity is a common value and is practiced in particular by members of churches and other religious organizations. Soup kitchens for the hungry, clothes closets for the needy, meals on wheels for the elderly, and work projects that help fix up dilapidated neighborhoods are among the many examples. Those even more determined to give back to the community have typically engaged in advocacy projects. Such advocacy projects include support of human rights projects both at home and abroad, dealing with matters that range from the abandonment of the death penalty to fair trade, and the eradication of various forms of racism.


Middle Class Fair Trade Religious Community North American Free Trade Agreement Class Struggle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Corporation for National and Community Service. Available at
  2. The DREAM Act. “Forbes: The Richest People in the World 2011.” 2011. Daily Finance, March 9. Available at
  3. Ehrenreich, Barbara. 2005. Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream. New York: Metropolitan Books.Google Scholar
  4. Gramsci, Antonio. 1971. “The Intellectuals.” In Selections from the Prison Notebooks. edited and translated by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith. 3–23. New York: International Publishers.Google Scholar
  5. Hertz, Tom. 2006. “Understanding Mobility in America.” For the Center for American Progress. Available at
  6. Rieger, Joerg. 2009. No Rising Tide: Theology, Economics, and the Future. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.Google Scholar
  7. Rieger, Joerg and Kwok, Pui-lan. 2012. Occupy Religion: Theology of the Multitude. Religion in the Modern World. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
  8. Shadow Government Statistics. 2011. “Alternate Unemployment Charts.” As of December 2. Available at
  9. Shaw, Bob. 2009. “Even in a Recession, Minnesota’s Volunteer Spirit Blossoms.” Pioneer Press, September 19. Available at
  10. Stein, Ben. 2006. “In Class Warfare, Guess Which Class is Winning.” The New York Times, November 26. Available at
  11. Wolman, William and Anne Colamosca. 2003. The Great 401 [k] Hoax: Why Financial Security Is at Risk, and What You Can Do about It. Cambridge, MA: Basic Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ada María Isasi-Díaz, Mary McClintock Fulkerson, and Rosemary P. Carbine 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joerg Rieger

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations