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Exit Zero - Family and Class in Postindustrial Chicago
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About the Author

Christine J. Walley is associate professor of anthropology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of Rough Waters: Nature and Development in an East African Marine Park.

Reviews

"Exit Zero is a remarkable, erudite book that is gracefully written and deeply grounded in cross-disciplinary scholarship on deindustrialization, inequality, gender, race, and class."
--Mary Pattillo "American Anthropologist"

"Exit Zero is a gem that will appeal to a variety of audiences. Christine Walley's analysis of how community residents in Southeast Chicago--and particularly members of her family--experienced deindustrialization is sensitive and illuminating, and her discussion of what it was like for her to leave Southeast Chicago to enter the upper-middle class world reinforces her message that the working class world is poorly understood both in popular culture and in mainstream academic literature. In the last full chapter, on the environmental dimension of social class, she breaks new ground. Exit Zero is an intense account of a little-considered part of the American experience."

--David Bensman, Rutgers University "New Labor Forum" (4/26/2012 12:00:00 AM)
"Exit Zero is a poignant and scholarly engagement with the topics of class and mobility. It offers an accessible entry point for undergraduates and an ideal model of reflexive methodology for advanced readers. It pushes us to ponder fundamental questions about family, national myths, and the end-goal of upward mobility."
--Mary Pattillo "Contemporary Sociology"
"Exit Zero is an incredibly moving book written by an academic scholar coming to grips with her experience with deindustrialization."
--Sherry Linkon "New Labor Forum"
"Christine J. Walley's vivid, frank, and insightful autoethnography casts a stark light on the travails of the American working class in the last century. In Exit Zero, she evokes the long hours and dangerous conditions of Chicago's steel mills in their glory days, the heedless dumping of toxic waste that may have made Walley a cancer victim in her twenties, and the terrible toll the mills' closing took on middle-aged men who would never work again. Progressive, but never politically correct, Walley gives a warts-and-all portrayal of Chicago's white working class that does not smooth over its racist and sexist underside, while challenging middle-class readers to cast aside their own romanticized or paternalistic stereotypes of the declining white working class."--Hugh Gusterson, George Mason University "New Labor Forum"
"How a person feels about herself, as she contemplates her class positioning, is central to Exit Zero, Christine Walley's superb memoir or 'autoethnography.' . . . But there is more here than family history: Walley uses the stories of these people to reflect more generally on the kinds of stories people of the United States tell to make sense of social class and, particularly, of industrial progress and deindustrialization."
--Richard Handler "American Ethnologist"
"In the early years of Working-Class Studies, I worried that we sometimes valorized the personal without demanding that it generate political and scholarly analysis. With Walley's book, we see that this field has developed a signature genre: the hybrid of autobiography and scholarly analysis previously illustrated most effectively by Jack Metzgar in Striking Steel and Barbara Jensen in Reading Classes. Such books go beyond telling working-class stories to demonstrate the critical practice of constructing theories of class through the analysis of experience. Exit Zero offers us both an engaging story and insightful analysis."--Sherry Linkon "Working-Class Studies"
"Telling the story of how the demise and collapse of the Southeast Chicago steel industry in the 1980s transformed her family's sense of past and future, Christine J. Walley shows us that analyzing class, gender, and race always demands that we weave between the personal and the political, that we think across the intimate, the institutional, and even the international. Exit Zero is autoethnography, political economy, immigration history, and urban anthropology at its best."--Stefan Helmreich, Massachusetts Institute of Technology "New Labor Forum" (4/26/2012 12:00:00 AM)

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