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Not Quite White: White Trash and the Boundaries of Whiteness

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ISBN-13: 978-0822338734
ISBN-10: 0822338734
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Not Quite White: White Trash and the Boundaries of Whiteness + Working Toward Whiteness: How America's Immigrants Became White: The Strange Journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Matt Wray’s Not Quite White is a richly textured social history of how and why the nation has come to conceive, categorize, and routinely vilify that part of its population known as ‘white trash.’ Because this subject has rarely been the focus of systematic scholarly inquiry, that alone would be a notable achievement. Yet the book aims for more—to propose a boundary theory of why ‘white trash’ has had so many uses—from literature to politics to social science. By any measure, this book is a major contribution.”—Troy Duster, New York University


“White trash? What did you just call me? Not Quite White provides the best social history of America’s most quizzical moniker in the racial-class system. From its colonial origins to the era of eugenics to the public health campaign to eradicate hookworm in the South, Matt Wray’s careful analysis documents the roots of this label, showing what its apparently oxymoronic nature tells us about the larger system of symbolic stratification in the United States.”—Dalton Conley, author of Honky


“[A]n engaging study. . . . the book is the result of ambitious interdisciplinary research examining multileveled, interactive processes of social differentiation in distinct historical periods. . . . Wray’s work adds new depth to our understanding of the intraracial dynamics that construct and sustain ideologies of white supremacy and will challenge scholars to rethink their own constructs of what white means. Both the substance and methodology of this work will be of interest to professionals and graduate students in the social sciences and humanities. Selected chapters might also serve well in upper-division undergraduate courses.”
(Pamela Perry, American Journal of Sociology)

“Matt Wray’s latest book, Not Quite White: White Trash and the Boundaries of Whiteness, is a compelling read. The prose is lucid and the analysis, which draws upon boundary theory and poststructuralist methods, most insightful. . . . [A] beautifully crafted, detailed and fascinating account.”
(Anoop Nayak, Ethnic and Racial Studies)

“The length of the book and an easily readable narrative style make it well suited for the undergraduate classroom. Students will find the book accessible; educators should appreciate its potential to stimulate thought-provoking discussion. . . . [T]his is a well-argued and thought-provoking book. It complicates scholarly understandings of what it has meant to be ‘white’ and succeeds as a model of interdisciplinarity.”
(David J. LaVigne, Journal of Social History)

“Wray’s new book, Not Quite White, is a brilliant and original monograph that both expands and challenges Whiteness Studies, which tend to deal with an undifferentiated white ethnicity; Ethnic Studies, which largely omit class analysis; and Labor Studies, which are not interested in the phenomenon of poor whites . . . . The text is accessible to non-specialists and undergraduates along with scholars and graduate students. This would be a fine textbook for any number of courses.”
(Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Journal of American Ethnic History)

About the Author

Matt Wray is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a 2006–2008 Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at Harvard University. He is a coeditor of The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness; Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life; and White Trash: Race and Class in America.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (November 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822338734
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822338734
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Matt Wray is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Temple University, where he is the chair of Undergraduate Studies and Director of the Health Track. Prior to Temple, Wray was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at Harvard University. Wray earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and an MA and PhD from University of California, Berkeley. He has also been a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

Wray is the author of Not Quite White: White Trash and the Boundaries of Whiteness (Duke, 2006); and the editor of Cultural Sociology: An Introductory Reader (WW Norton 2013); The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness (Duke, 2001); Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life (New York University Press, 1998); and White Trash: Race and Class in America (Routledge, 1997).

Wray is currently at work on a book length study of the causes and consequences of high rates of suicide in the American West, entitled Death in Vegas.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Ryan A. Brown on December 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
Matt Wray has put together an extremely powerful treatise on the cultural construction of poor whites in the U.S. With wonderful historical detail and depth, he has shown how poor whites have come to be perceived over three centuries, and in various regions of the United States. Wray's book is theoretically sophisticated in a direct, eloquent, and very "alive" way. As a result, it should appeal to a wide variety of academic and non-academic audiences.

For students of race and class in America, this really should be required reading. More than an historical text, this book is also deeply anthropological, psychological, and sociological. Extremely well empirically substantiated, it also sits right on the cutting edge of social theory.
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I'm a black man and after living in the United States of America for over 50 years I never understood how one ends up poor and WHITE in the USA. I used to think that if you were poor and white in the USA you had to work extra hard at destroying all your chances. Not even a criminal record can prevent you being hired if you are white I figured. I used to think poor white people were those poor by choice like "Hobos, or other men of the open road!"

I used to say the only reason a white man can be unemployed is because; he does not want to work. Reading Not Quite White: White Trash and the Boundaries of Whiteness was an eye opening experience. I grew up in cities and went to better schools so I only met white folk that were among the better educated. If I saw a poor white guy he was usually the stereotypical tall thin gaunt white guy, with lizard like features, rotted teeth, modelled patchy skin from years of drug and alcohol abuse.

Yes I hear white guys lose awesome jobs and have to downsize but that's a far cry from being truly poor and homeless. Usually if I see a homeless white guy that is not a dope fiend he is usually stock raving bonkers. I hear about poor white trash living in trailer parks but, I always figured such people are just folk Hollywood made up to sell movies and TV shows. I used to think poor white folk were just Another Weird Urban Myth. I still can't build a satisfactory logical construct that allows for the realistic existance of truly dirt poor white people in the USA however, Not Quite White: White Trash and the Boundaries of Whiteness lays an effective theroretical foundation for their supposed existance. This is a good book, it just embraces a subject that these days is more fiction than fact. I'm not saying true poor white people exist, I'm just saying I've never seen any outside of mentally ill homeless people, hopeless drunks \ dope fiends and exconvicts.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By JL on March 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Thoroughly researched and illuminating. This book is both engaging and academically sound. Matt Wray draws from history, sociology, and his own life experience to describe the American relationship with the "other" kind of white people.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Anthony B. Bradley on March 20, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an amazingly helpful book to learn the history of low-class white. Breathtaking and eye-opening. The book totally reoriented how I think race in America.
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