To explore American opinions about meritocracy, the American Dream and the possibility of upward mobility, check out:

2018 Pew Research Center data about what Americans think about why people are rich or poor

2018 Gallup Poll data about what Americans mean by ‘working class’

To explore ‘stickiness’ in American socioeconomic status, check out:

A 2016 Brookings Institution comparison of upward mobility in nations around the globe

A 2016 Brooking Institution report on intergenerational mobility

A 2012 Pew Charitable Trust report on economic mobility

A 2015 Russell Sage Foundation and Pew Charitable Trust report on economic mobility

A 2007 National Bureau of Economic Research report on mobility in the U.S. since 1937

Sociology References:

Adair, Vivyan C. 2005. “US Working-Class/Poverty-Class Divides.” Sociology 39(5): 817-834.

Adair, Vivyan C.  2001.  “Branded with Infamy: Inscriptions of Poverty and Class in the United States.”  Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 27(2), 451-471.

Coser, Lewis A. 1965. “The Sociology of Poverty: To the Memory of Georg Simmel.” Social Problems 13(2): 140-148.

Fothergill, Alice. 2003. “The Stigma of Charity: Gender, Class and Disaster Assistance.” The Sociological Quarterly 44(4): 659-680.

Sayer, Andrew.  2005.  “Class, Moral Worth and Recognition.”  Sociology, 39(5), 947-963.

Sayer, Andrew.  2002.  “What Are You Worth: Why Class Is an Embarrassing Subject.”  Sociological Research Online, 7(3), <>.

Schwalbe, Michael. 2014. Rigging the Game: How Inequality Is Reproduced in Everyday Life. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Sherman, Jennifer. 2013. “Surviving the Great Recession: Growing Need and the Stigmatized Safety Net.” Social Problems 60(4): 409-432.

This episode was written, produced and edited by Jennifer R. Myhre, with editing assistance from Lea Li and Deven Sutaria.  The music that opens and closes each 1500 Stories episode was composed and produced by Benjamin Henderson. Additional music was composed by Jesus Correa.  The 1500 Stories podcast was launched thanks to generous financial assistance from the Mellon Foundation and American Council of Learned Societies community college faculty fellowship program.  However, any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed here are our own and do not necessarily represent those of Mellon or ACLS.  Thanks to Melanie Bennetts, Lea Li, Elizabeth Mjelde, and Melinda Poley for their ears in early stages of drafting this episode.