We're still here : pain and politics in the heart of America


We're still here : pain and politics in the heart of America

Publication Date



The economy has been brutal to American workers for several decades. The chance to give one's children a better life than one's own -- the promise at the heart of the American Dream -- is withering away. While onlookers assume those suffering in marginalized working-class communities will instinctively rise up, the 2016 election threw into sharp relief how little we know about how the working-class translate their grievances into politics.

In We're Still Here, Jennifer M. Silva tells a deep, multi-generational story of pain, place, and politics that will endure long after the Trump administration. Drawing on over 100 interviews with black, white, and Latino working-class residents of a declining coal town in Pennsylvania, Silva reveals how the decline of the American Dream is lived and felt. The routines and rhythms of traditional working-class life such as manual labor, unions, marriage, church, and social clubs have diminished. In their place, she argues, individualized strategies for coping with pain, and finding personal redemption, have themselves become sources of political stimulus and reaction among the working class. Understanding how generations of Democratic voters come to reject the social safety net and often politics altogether requires moving beyond simple partisanship into a maze of addiction, joblessness, family disruption, violence, and trauma. Instead, Silva argues that we need to uncover the relationships, loyalties, longings, and moral visions that underlie and generate the civic and political disengagement of working-class people.

We're Still Here provides powerful, on the ground evidence of the remaking of working-class identity and politics that will spark new tensions but also open up the possibility for shifting alliances and new possibilities. -- publisher

Field Station

Coal Region Field Station




working class, coal mines, coal mining, social conditions, class, coal region field station


Inequality and Stratification | Politics and Social Change | Sociology


Oxford University Press


Oxford, England


Sociology & Anthropology


Video recording of Jennifer Silva presentation at the University of Pittsburgh in 2017. Silva's book was selected for the One Book, One Community (OBOC) discussion held by the Pitt Public Health program of the University of Pittsburgh. Recording includes lecture and presentation slides. Streaming provided by My Pitt Video with Panopto software.

Jennifer Silva at the University of Pittsburgh


We're still here : pain and politics in the heart of America