AJ+, 2019, 12:00… Dolly Parton is an American icon. But she stands, perhaps most importantly, as a timeless ode to the foundation of this country: the working class. In the inaugural episode of Pop Americana, Sana Saeed explores the radical politics of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” - the song, the film and the album. We threw in some Marxist theory too.
Adam Ruins Everything, 2019, 4:44… Americans subscribe to the individualistic fantasy that hard work results in success, and the “American Dream” can loosely be interpreted as climbing the social ladder. Sociologists call that (upward) social mobility, a concept describing how individuals can change their socioeconomic status. While mobility is possible in open class systems, increasing structural inequalities are making this ever more difficult in the United States.
Vox, 2019, 6:35… Child labor was widely practiced until a photographer showed the public what it looked like. The 1900 US Federal Census revealed that 1.75 million children under the age of 16, more than one in five, were gainfully employed. They worked all over the country in cotton mills, glass blowing factories, sardine canneries, farms, and even coal mines. In an effort to expose this exploitation of children, the National Child Labor Committee hired a photographer to travel around the country and investigate and report on the labor conditions of children.
Vice News, 2019, 7:02… Mzu Lembeni runs one of the many tour companies that takes tourists into Cape Town’s townships, impoverished areas that were first created when the Apartheid government forced nonwhites to live in segregated areas. On his tour, tourists can walk right into people’s homes, drink homemade liquor, play with children at a local school, and take as many pictures as they like. For some people, this sounds like exploitation. But Lembeni, who grew up in a township himself, disagrees. “If there was no poverty ... I'll do the township tour, because [of] the culture,” Lembeni says. “I don't sell the poverty, I sell the culture.”
60 Minutes Australia, 2019, 25:03… For the so-called “sugar daddies”, the equation is simple: the wealthier they are, the more attractive they are. But as Sarah Abo finds out, it’s not hard to read between the lines here. The term sugar baby is often code for sex worker, and the male moneybags are often crinkled-up creeps. And that leads to a very important question: is this sugar baby phenomenon about empowering women or exploiting them?
Vox, 2019, 8:37… Carlson’s show is meant to distract Fox News viewers from Republican economics, channeling their frustration and anger at groups that don’t deserve it. That kind of misdirection produces what Marxist theorists call “false consciousness”: when workers are tricked into accepting their own exploitation.
Quartz, 2019, 5:02… In coffee shops all over the world, the same set of design elements keep popping up. What is happening? Distinctive design elements—Edison bulbs, reclaimed wood, potted plants, exposed brick—are popping up in coffee shops everywhere. But it isn’t just the design of these spaces that are becoming increasingly uniform…
NowThis, 2019, 14:00… Prince believes that raising the minimum wage will increase consumption and we're better off putting money into the hands of people who will spend it in the economy than those at the top who already have plenty of money. Prince also says that the wealthy people in charge do not care if the economy improves just if they're making more money.
The Atlantic, 2018, 3:20… America is the richest civilization in history. Why, then, are our living standards so low compared to those of other wealthy democracies? “There’s a big idea out there that could help solve this,” says The Atlantic writer Annie Lowrey. “It’s called a universal basic income.” In a new animated video, Lowrey argues that UBI—a concept that has existed for more than 500 years—would help close the income inequality gap, eliminating poverty and increasing mobility and opportunity for all American citizens.