Is the middle class shrinking? How do people who live at the extremes of American society- the super rich, the working poor and those who live on the margins, imagine and experience "the good life"? How do we understand phenomena such as gang cultures, addiction and the realignment of white consciousness? This class uses the methods and modes of ethnographic study in an examination of American culture. Ethnographic materials range from an examination of the new American wealth boom of the last 20 years (Richistan by Robert Frank) to the extreme and deadlynworld of the invisible underclass of homeless addicts on the streets of San Francisco (Righteous Dopefiend by Phillipe Bourgois and Jeff Schonberg). The experiences of Hispanic immigrants and the struggle to escape gang life in Los Angeles are highlighted in the story of Homeboy Industries a job creation program initiated by a priest working in LA's most deadly neighborhoods (G-Dog and the Homeboys by Celeste Fremon). Finally in Searching for Whitopia: an improbable journeyninto the heart of White America, Rich Benjamin explores the creation on ethnic enclaves (whitopias) as fear over immigration and the shrinking white majority redefine race consciousnessnin the 21st century. Each of these narratives provides a window into the various ways in which Americans approach the subjects of wealth and the good life, poverty and the underclass, and thenconstruction of class, race, and gender in American society. Students will not be required to have any previous knowledge, just curiosity and an open mind.