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Where We Stand: Class Matters [Paperback]

by bell hooks
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 6, 2000 041592913X 978-0415929134 1
Drawing on both her roots in Kentucky and her adventures with Manhattan Coop boards, Where We Stand is a successful black woman's reflection--personal, straight forward, and rigorously honest--on how our dilemmas of class and race are intertwined, and how we can find ways to think beyond them.

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This incisive examination of class is rooted in cultural critic hooks's (All About Love) personal experience, political commitment, and social theory, which links gender, race, and class. Starting with her working-class childhood, the author illustrates how everyday interactions reproduce class hierarchy while simultaneously denying its existence. Because she sustains an unflinching gaze on both her own personal motivations and on persistent social structures, hooks provides a valuable framework for discussing such difficult and unexplored areas as greed, the quest to live simply, the ruling-class co-optation of youth through popular culture, and real estate speculation as an instrument of racism. Although the reading level and the price are both steep, this title is highly recommended for most public libraries and academic social science collections.DPaula R. Dempsey, DePaul Univ. Lib., Chicago
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Where We Stand: Class Matters is a statement of self, reaching through all of those selves who think properly on class, to embrace a society transformed by redistribution...hooks moves analytically to grasp what so many theorists of our time have evaded. -- Literary Review of Canada
hooks's story is both inspiration and cautionary tale. -- Washington Post
hooks delves into the deep divisions of class, socio-economics, and race that are too often lightly stepped around and avoided and brings them out, lays them on the table, and helps us bravely through the pieces and make sense of them. -- Black Issues Book Review
hooks is often refreshing simply because she says so clearly what she really means. No academic rigamarole or mystical jargon for her. The good news is that such occasionally awkward phrases...are sometimes preludes to her seamless depictions of the complex cultural nuances that make up contemporary American culture. -- The Washington Post Book World
This incisive examination of class is rooted in cultural critic hooks personal experience, political commitment, and social theory, which links gender, race, and class. Starting with her working-class childhood, the author illustrates how everyday interactions reproduce class hierarchy while simultaneously denying its existence. Because she sustains an unflinching gaze on both her own personal motivations and on persistent social structures, hooks provides a valuable framework for discussing such difficult and unexplored areas as greed, the quest to live simply, the ruling-class co-optation of youth through popular culture, and real estate speculation as an instrument of racism. -- Library Journal
[A]n engaging, thought-provoking memoir. -- Boston Herald
In often-evocative prose, bell hooks utilizes her own life to quickly 'get to the heart of matters,' developing insights and pithy truths that resonate long after her books are put down. Where We Stand is a deeply felt rendering that engages us through descriptions of her childhood and her process of coming to class awareness. -- NSWA Journal

Product Details

  • Paperback: 164 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (October 6, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 041592913X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415929134
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 4.3 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bell Hooks is a cultural critic, feminist theorist, and writer. Celebrated as one of our nation's leading public intellectual by The Atlantic Monthly, as well as one of Utne Reader's 100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life, she is a charismatic speaker who divides her time among teaching, writing, and lecturing around the world. Previously a professor in the English departments at Yale University and Oberlin College, hooks is now a Distinguished Professor of English at City College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is the author of more than seventeen books, including All About Love: New Visions; Remembered Rapture: The Writer at Work; Wounds of Passion: A Writing Life; Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood; Killing Rage: Ending Racism; Art on My Mind: Visual Politics; and Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life. She lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Towards a Just Society April 4, 2005
By Aco
Format:Paperback
I recommend this book. This is the first bell hooks I have read, and was deeply impressed by her clear, rooted moral position on the state of American and global society. Her writing in this piece shifts from a narrative of her own history growing up in the South, to a present academic, political critique of today.

I found her writing fluid and her point of view significant. As a black woman in America and someone who has experienced lower and upper class existence and the according journey between them, her perspective is complex, making her voice deep and necessary.

In no way can I specify difference with this book. She calls for a morally just society, which denounces the consumerism that perpetuates exploitation, racism, sexism while it is advertised and fantasized about as a life pursuit. Seeing the current issue of Newsweek's cover story, titled "How to Win," regarding a CEO's expertise in making money and succeeding the "American way," immediately brought Where We Stand into consideration.

This book is a call to action, and an illumination of the depressing and unjust, cruel and foolish system which ignores and is afraid of reforming itself enough to allow for "a world where we can all have enough to live fully and well."

I particularly appreciated her chapters on living simply, and think it is an appropriate and bold call to make in a place where stuff and acquisition are social symbols of significance.

To conclude, I found this description of class from page 103, by Rita Mae Brown, to be important: "Class is much more than Marx's definition of relationship to the means of production. Class involves behavior, your basic assumptions, how you are taught to behave, what you expect from yourself and from others, your concept of a future, how you understand problems and solve them, how you think, feel, act."
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review on bell hooks Where We Stand May 8, 2001
Format:Paperback
Reading bell hooks, Where We Stand, was a challenge in itself. I had never thought of myself as being racist or having strong bias against any one group of people, but I did find myself getting angry with some of the things that she wrote about. I thought in the beginning that she painted a very sad harsh picture of her life growing up, and the trials she had to go through to get where she wanted to be. They were long and hard days, but she did get there. What I was most frustrated with was her repetitive nature. It was almost like she was going to make sure we GOT IT! I just think that when someone is on a soapbox about something they beat the subject matter into their audience's head until it is no longer interesting. I found myself becoming defensive about things. I got frustrated with her at times, but then I read on and began to see the injustices that were out there. Making it unfair in many different ways for blacks. I particularly felt strong about a chapter dealing with real estate, and how it is manipulated by "desirables" to keep "the undesirables" out. It is sad to think that you can put a dollar amount on the color of a person's skin. I felt ashamed at times, thinking the same things perhaps at one time or another. This reading has helped me grow as a person and it opened me up to the ways of the world. At least I hope that it has.
I suggest that everyone takes a look, it will be worth it.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars or 4.95 . . . January 5, 2001
Format:Paperback
bell hooks is ahead of the curve again. Class studies seems sure to supersede race and gender studies as the next big thing in academia (and thus, eventually, more widely--at least I hope so). Hooks writes wonderfully here and elsewhere about issues that most academics write about in prose that is certainly more difficult than necessary. As before, at least for me, she's at her best here when she writes about the details of her own life, her own growing class awareness. In doing so, she manages to show just how much American consciousness has changed regarding the poor and the rich, and especially, how individuals decide where they "stand" in relation to the two.
Getting rich has become the highest goal in America, even more so than it ever was, and the poor are more disregarded and even despised than ever. hooks reminds us (and, hopefully, the newly triumphant Christian right) that the Bible, and much traditional Christian teaching, holds the poor up, rather than the rich, as examples of how we all should live. A shift in perspective has gradually crept upon us--while Americans used to cite many features that constituted a "good life," loads of money has come to the fore as the defining tool toward living "well," and for many it seems to be the only thing that would make life better. hooks writes "movingly" (a cliche, but it's true) of how all these changes FEEL; she clarifies for me, for instance, the way the widening availability of gambling is making more and more of us dissatisfied with our current lives because they seem to pale so in comparison to the lives we "could" lead if we could just buy that right lottery ticket.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where We Stand: Class Matters by bell hooks July 16, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Where We Stand: Class Matters by bell hooks

All books written by bell hooks are powerful, direct, and very brave. Exactly when I was hoping bell would write a book about class, I discovered this one. Her writings about love lead to exploration of capitalism and its social structure more in depth, to strengthen points about the ways class loyalties and antagonisms prevent love ethic from becoming embraced by the society as a whole.

What I especially appreciate in Where We Stand are the two quite extraordinary qualities: a) bell showed us that we can talk and write about class without using "post-modern" or difficult to comprehend terminology, and b) she is not afraid to call to action, to change this depressing and unjust, cruel and senseless system into "a world where we can all have enough to live fully and well."

She started the book with self-critique, almost apologizing for not having enough theoretical knowledge to talk about class issues. However, bell is able to discuss very different aspects of class, such as class ideology (or the dominant social ideology being the ideology of the ruling class), class consciousness of the working class and intellectuals, intersections of class, race and gender, crossing class boundaries, and a vision of a classless society--society--without class hierarchies or antagonistic classes.

I read somewhere that some book reviews called this book a "novel". Where We Stand is not a novel, but I prefer to see this as compliment. bell masterfully intertwined her personal experiences and her family stories into the general discussion about class.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Needed for class, but still an interesting read
This book has a lot of insight and it generates thought about class and our own related experiences. Anyone interested in class issues and sociology in general should check it out.
Published 4 days ago by Taylor Furey
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable.
I cannot even begin to relay how much I learned from this text. It contains a deep explanation of class, marginal societies and the reasons why class matters in our society. Read more
Published 3 months ago by memphisrain
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book
Cheap, small, and an easy, quick read. Exactly what I needed for an education class. The book became very repetitive after a while though. Quick shipping.
Published 9 months ago by Sarah Few
3.0 out of 5 stars Introduction to socioeconomic politics of class by revered feminist
I read this for my sociology class. This is an eye opener about class, we all known it exists but cannot identify. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Zora A-W
5.0 out of 5 stars Received quickly
book was used for my Masters Program- Communication and Leadership. 1st hand knowledge provided by the author. it is a quick read
Published 12 months ago by heather parker
4.0 out of 5 stars Class Matters
I really enjoyed reading this book. It gave mme some insight as to why my own parents or grandparents , thought the way they did.
Published 12 months ago by lorrainre
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound Book on Race and Class
Bell Hooks achieves a balance between personal narrative, fact, and consciousness raising; beautifully written. was required for a class but I will keep it to lend and re-read
Published 13 months ago by Julie Seddon Cabell
1.0 out of 5 stars Read for Masters program
The author is very direct and honest with her belief system and call to action. I agree in macro with her. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Chris
5.0 out of 5 stars Craving more
Could barely stop turning pages.... opened my mind, expanded my views, and left me thirsty for more. Has left me wondering what my role is to be in the struggle for equality.
Published 15 months ago by jazmin norflett
5.0 out of 5 stars Changed my world
bell hooks changed the way I looked at poverty with her novel, "Class Matters". I believe this is a eye opening, poignant reminder that we, as Americans, are our own worst enemy. Read more
Published 18 months ago by dcosta
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