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.
"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
--David Bensman, Rutgers University "New Labor Forum" (4/26/2012
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
--Mary Pattillo "Contemporary Sociology"
is an incredibly moving book written by an
academic scholar coming to grips with her experience with
--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
"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
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.
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
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)