Caught in the Middle: Contradictions in the Lives of Sociologists from Working-Class Backgrounds

Synopsis

When individuals from working-class backgrounds seek entry into the upper-middle-class world of academia, they often encounter difficulties. Examining the professional and personal lives of a group of sociologists from working class backgrounds, this extensive study finds that despite their successes as Ph.D. recipients, these scholars have suffered structural, interpersonal, and personal consequences that are linked to that class background. Many are uncomfortable with the academic role and the authority structure of the university, and see themselves as outsiders both within the academy and its larger cultural environment. The authors' conclusion, is that upward social mobility is never complete and that these upwardly mobile professionals appear to be "caught in the middle" between the world of their childhoods and the very different world that they must confront daily as members of the academy.