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Gabriel Winant
The Next Shift: The Fall of Industry
and the Rise of Health Care in
Rust Belt America
Harvard University Press, 2021



Today health care workers are on the front lines of our most pressing crises, yet we have been slow to appreciate that they are the face of our twenty-first-century workforce. The Next Shift offers unique insights into how we got here and what could happen next. Gabriel Winant takes us inside the Rust Belt to show how America’s cities have weathered new economic realities. In Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods, he finds that a new working class of care workers has emerged in the wake of deindustrialization. But many care jobs bear little resemblance to the manufacturing work the city lost. Unlike their blue-collar predecessors, home health aides and hospital staff - a workforce disproportionately made up of women and people of color - work unpredictable hours for low pay. Yet, Winant shows, if health care employees and other essential workers can translate the increasing recognition of their economic value into political power, they may become a major force in the twenty-first century. Reviewer Robin D.G. Kelley notes, “One of the most timely books of our era. The global pandemic has turned care workers into heroes while concealing the history that rendered them undervalued, underpaid, and precarious long before COVID struck. Winant recovers this history, revealing how the growth of the care industry was a consequence of, and response to, the decline of the industrial sector, and suggesting that the very laborers tasked with keeping the rest of the working class from an early grave may prove to be capitalism’s proverbial gravediggers.”

Listen to an interview with Gabriel Winant on the “New Books Network.”

Beautifully written, extensively researched, and sharply argued, The Next Shift offers a new way to think about the transformations often grouped together under the rubric of ‘neoliberalism.’ Winant sees deindustrialization not simply as a story of decline, but a story of the rise of a new kind of working class.”
Kimberly Phillips-Fein,
author of Fear City: New York’s Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics



Gabriel Winant is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Chicago. His writing about work, inequality, and capitalism in modern America has appeared in The Nation, The New Republic, Dissent, and n+1.

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