Batya Ungar-Sargon: Politics, the Working Class and the American Dream

Who is the American working class? Do they still have a fair shot at the American Dream? What do they think about their chances to secure the hallmarks of a middle-class life?

Newsweek’s Batya Ungar-Sargon visited states across the nation to speak with members of the American working-class fighting tooth and nail to survive. In her new book Second Class, working-class Americans of all races, political orientations, and occupations share their stories—cleaning ladies, health care aides, police officers, truck drivers, fast food workers, electricians, and more. In their own words, these working-class Americans told Ungar-Sargon the struggles and triumphs of their increasingly precarious lives, as well as what policies they think would improve them. Ungar-Sargon’s reporting and research on America’s emergent class divide reveals people for whom the most basic elements of a secure and stable life are increasingly out of reach for those without a college education.

She says America has broken its contract with its laboring class. So, how do we get back to the American Dream? How do we once again become the land of opportunity, the promised land where hard work and commitment to family are enough to protect you from poverty? Ungar-Sargon says all it would take is for those in power to once again respect the dignity of work—and the American worker.


This program is presented in collaboration with the USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future.




This program is supported by the Ken & Jaclyn Broad Family Fund.


Ken and Jaclyn Broad Family Fund



Image - Batya Ungar-Sargon

Batya Ungar-Sargon

Opinion Editor, Newsweek; Author, Second Class: How the Elites Betrayed America’s Working Men and Women; X @bungarsargon

Image - Rachael Myrow

In Conversation with Rachael Myrow

Senior Editor, KQED’s Silicon Valley News Desk; X @rachaelmyrow