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The Rise of Chicago's Black Metropolis, 1920-1929$
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Christopher Robert Reed

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036231

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036231.001.0001

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“The Whirl of Life” The Social Structure

“The Whirl of Life” The Social Structure

(p.34) Chapter 2 “The Whirl of Life” The Social Structure
The Rise of Chicago's Black Metropolis, 1920-1929

Christopher Robert Reed

University of Illinois Press

This chapter explores the intricacies of the first discernible class structure that conformed to normative standards of socioeconomic status in Chicago's history. Black Chicago developed a very small but distinguishable upper class, large segments within the broad middle classes, enormous laboring classes including industrial and service sector workers, and an underclass. The members of the upper class owned and managed businesses, chose housing commensurate with their status, consumed their disposable income with conspicuous delight, engaged in civic activities, and socially acted as a group apart from other segments of their racial cohort to which they traditionally held their primary social allegiance. The middle class focused on occupation, wealth production, educational attainment, cultural interests, and character. The working-class, however, formed the bulk of black Chicago's citizenry.

Keywords:   social class, social structure, socioeconomic status, African Americans, Chicago

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