By Robert Wuthnow
The US used to be outfitted on tales: stories of thankful immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, Horatio Alger-style modifications, self-made males, and the Protestant paintings ethic. during this new publication, well known sociologist Robert Wuthnow examines those such a lot American of stories--narratives approximately individualism, immigration, luck, faith, and ethnicity--through the eyes of contemporary immigrants. In doing so, he demonstrates how the "American mythos" has either legitimized American society and avoided it from totally figuring out its beliefs. This magisterial paintings is a mirrored image and meditation at the nationwide recognition. It info how american citizens have generally trusted narratives to deal with what it ability to be powerful, morally liable members and to provide an explanation for why a few individuals are extra profitable than others--in brief, to aid us make feel of our lives. however it argues that those narratives have performed little to aid us confront new demanding situations. We cross legislation to finish racial discrimination, but lack the get to the bottom of to create a extra equitable society. We welcome the assumption of pluralism in faith and values, but we're shaken via the problems immigration provides. We champion prosperity for all, yet dwell in a rustic the place households are nonetheless homeless. American Mythos aptly files this disconnect among the tales we inform and the truth we are facing. analyzing how cultural narratives would possibly not, and sometimes don't, replicate the truth of state-of-the-art society, it demanding situations readers to develop into extra reflective approximately what it skill to dwell as much as the yank excellent.
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Extra resources for American Mythos: Why Our Best Efforts to Be a Better Nation Fall Short
Civil society is nevertheless composed of activities conducted freely and supported privately, rather than through the coercive mechanisms 22 CHAPTER 1 of government. It is the centrality of civil society to the vitality of democracy from the bottom up, so to speak, that necessitates the attention we so often pay to questions about civic renewal. The most basic way in which civic renewal takes place is through the transmission of values from one generation to the next. Transmission of this kind happens through families and is the reason that strong families are so often mentioned as a critical component of civil society.
More deliberate planning by far went into the second period of redefinition than into the first. Yet neither could be regarded as a time in which Americans consciously set out to reinvent themselves or their nation. The reinvention happened as an unanticipated but necessary consequence of efforts devoted to realizing the higher aims of the society, whether in bringing into being a more stable and truly representative democracy or in mobilizing that democracy in the struggle against totalitarianism.
People knowingly or unknowingly imitated one another. Too much conformity means being like everyone else and thus not realizing one’s particular talents. The society loses because people do not develop their special gifts. It also means that people do not think for themselves. Not only did people become like everyone else, they also desired alikeness (and thus gave up their freedom). Conformity helped the society to run smoothly but was not good for the individual. ” People were so much alike that they could be lumped together into single national or cultural types.
American Mythos: Why Our Best Efforts to Be a Better Nation Fall Short by Robert Wuthnow