Spotlight | Anthropology 

Christine Walley wins CLR James Best Book Award for Exit Zero 

Associate Professor of Anthropology Christine Walley has been awarded the CLR James Award for Best Book, from the Working-Class Studies Association, for Exit Zero: Family and Class in Postindustrial Chicago (University of Chicago Press, 2013).

The mission of the Working-Class Studies Association is to develop and promote multiple forms of scholarship, teaching, and activism related to working-class life and cultures.

Exit Zero explores the effects of deindustrialization on Chicago workers and their families. Both an ethnographic study and a personal narrative, the book details the experiences of Walley’s father and thousands of others who lost their jobs during the 1980s, when Chicago’s long-vibrant steel industry abruptly collapsed.

In a 2013 MIT News Office feature about the book, Peter Dizikes writes that "Walley also builds an argument that rapid deindustrialization in the United States was not simply the result of seemingly inevitable shifts in the global economy, but a consequence of corporate-friendly policies, and a new emphasis on raising short-term share prices, that pitted the interests of management against the long-term interests of companies and their workers."

"If you really want to understand why there is this expanding class inequality in the United States, one of the places you have to look is the long-term impact of deindustrialization," Walley says. “We have to think historically about how we got into this position and how we can come out of it."