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Why Does the American Middle Class
Continue to Struggle Financially?

NEW YORK CITY, August 11, 2013 — Since the mid-1980s, unrestrained household spending has damaged American family finances — despite the fact that globalization and technological change have caused consumer prices to fall widely, says Queens College sociologist Joseph Nathan Cohen. In his paper, “The Myth of America’s ‘Culture of Consumerism’: Policy May Help Drive American Household’s Fraying Finances,” which Cohen will present at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, he examines the factors that keep American families from tightening their belts.

A brief summary:

Cohen, a Canadian with a business background who studied at Princeton (Ph.D. sociology, 2007), also examines how other countries tackle the provision of essential services in different and potentially less financially damaging ways. “Canada’s policies control the personal financial burden of accessing essential services, which might be why household finances are in better shape there,” he says.

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The paper, “The Myth of America’s ‘Culture of Consumerism’: Policy May Help Drive American Household’s Fraying Finances,” will be presented on Sunday, Aug. 11, at 2:30 p.m. EDT in New York City at the American Sociological Association’s 108th Annual Meeting.

To obtain a copy of the paper; for assistance reaching the study’s author(s); or for more information on other ASA presentations, members of the media can contact Daniel Fowler, ASA’s Media Relations and Public Affairs Officer, at (202) 527-7885 or pubinfo@asanet.org. During the Annual Meeting (Aug. 10-13), ASA’s Public Information Office staff can be reached in the on-site press office, located in the Hilton New York Midtown’s Clinton Room, at (212) 333-6362 or (914) 450-4557 (cell).

For more information about the study, members of the media can also contact Maria Matteo, Queens College, at (718) 997-5593 or maria.matteo@qc.cuny.edu.     

Papers presented at the ASA Annual Meeting are typically working papers that have not yet been published in peer reviewed journals.