By Robert Wuthnow
The USA 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 booklet, popular sociologist Robert Wuthnow examines those so much 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 understanding its beliefs. This magisterial paintings is a mirrored image and meditation at the nationwide cognizance. It info how american citizens have normally depended on narratives to handle what it skill to be robust, morally liable contributors and to give an explanation for why a few individuals are extra profitable than others--in brief, to assist 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 unravel to create a extra equitable society. We welcome the assumption of pluralism in faith and values, but we're shaken through the problems immigration offers. We champion prosperity for all, yet dwell in a rustic the place households are nonetheless homeless. American Mythos aptly records this disconnect among the tales we inform and the truth we are facing. studying how cultural narratives would possibly not, and sometimes don't, replicate the truth of contemporary society, it demanding situations readers to develop into extra reflective approximately what it capability to reside as much as the yankee perfect.
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Extra resources for American Mythos: Why Our Best Efforts to Be a Better Nation Fall Short
Will be, through our lifetimes, young, ambitious and energetic,” writes the columnist David Brooks. 52 Besides immigration, which has added cultural diversity in its own way, diversity itself has become a much more prominent value than it was for previous generations. Through schooling and the mass media, Americans learn that diversity is a good thing, and are encouraged to embrace it. In all these ways, American culture has been reinvented— or at least we have sought to reinvent it and have often been told by social observers that things are quite different from the way they were.
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. Civic education through public and private schooling plays an equally vital role in maintaining democracy.
Apart from its economic benefits, this is why we spend as much money as we do on public education and why we worry if studies suggest that children are not being well educated. Illiteracy is not only an impediment to employment; it also impedes the formation of the kind of informed public we think is required for a stable democracy. Renewal through education is also more than simply transmitting adults’ values to children. As successive generations enter the public sphere, they bring youthful energy and new ideas into the democratic process.
American Mythos: Why Our Best Efforts to Be a Better Nation Fall Short by Robert Wuthnow