Gentrification And The Upper-Class Cultural Bubble

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Author Charles Murray has been criticized and praised for his latest book, “Coming Apart,” in which he argues that white America is in crisis and that the country is divided primarily by class, not by race.

Murray’s argument is that “the super wealthy, super educated and super snobby live in so-called super-ZIP [codes]: cloistered together, with little to no exposure to American culture at large,” reports NewsHour. Murray’s book includes the “bubble quiz,” meant to determine just how out-of-touch respondents may be (and it’s presumably intended for whites).

A caveat to one of the questions may be of particular interest to our readers. The first question states, “Have you ever lived for at least a year in an American neighborhood in which the majority of your fifty nearest neighbors did not have college degrees?” But, the quiz qualifies, it doesn’t count if the neighborhood is gentrified and you’re one of the gentrifiers. In other words, Murray argues, gentrifiers are still in an upper-class bubble, even if they don’t technically live in one. Do you agree? It’s a salient question in D.C., given the number mixed-income neighborhoods.

And you can take the quiz here.

  • Janem112

    I scored 21 which puts me at the top of Murray’s bubble or the bottom or whatever. What nonsense. Murray doesn’t know enough about real life to devise a valid quiz. I bought 37 acres on a barrier, bridgeless island, worked with boatmen, forklift driverss, pols, construction wsorkers and brought out electric power, slept in makesshift tents, and built a remarkable community.  The fact that nothing hurt at the end of the day is the most irrelevant fact ican imagine. no Idon’t eat at Dennys butIeataall the time at Crackerbarrel, a place Murray may neverhave heard of. I watch sports on TV, not American Idol.  The  fact that Murray thinks this is a good quiz tells us more about him than us.

  • Weiwen Ng

    My main problem with Murray’s book is that he is trying to use some sociological arguments to obfuscate the well-recognized fact that income inequality is growing. In my view, cultural stratification is a symptom of income and wealth inequality. And I’m a sociology major. 

    That said, he has a point, and as far as his scale goes, I think qualification to that question is correct. When I lived in a lower-income neighborhood, I didn’t really mix a lot with the other residents. So, still in a bubble.