The Ezra Klein Show

If you're anything like me, this episode will make you think about the way you shop, learn, eat, parent, and exercise in a whole new way.

My guest today is Elizabeth Currid-Halkett, a professor of public policy at the University of Southern California whose most recent book The Sum of Small Things: A Theory of the Aspirational Class documents the rise of a new, unprecedented elite class in the United States. Previously, the elite classes differentiated themselves from the rest by purchasing expensive material goods like flashy clothes and expensive cars. But, for reasons we get into, today’s elite is different: We signify our class position by reading the New Yorker, acquiring elite college degrees, buying organic food, breastfeeding our children, and, of course, listening to podcasts like this one.

These activities may seem completely innocent — perhaps even enlightened. Yet, as we discuss here, they simultaneously shore up inequality, erode social mobility, and create an ever-more stratified society — all without most of us even noticing. This is a conversation that implicates us all, and, for that very reason, it is well worth grappling with.

Book recommendations:

Just Kids by Patti Smith

 Art Worlds by Howard S. Becker

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

If you enjoyed this episode, you may also like:

When meritocracy wins, everybody loses

Work as identity, burnout as lifestyle

What a smarter Trumpism would sound like

My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com.

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app.

Credits:

Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld

Researcher - Roge Karma

Engineer - Jeff Geld

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