Read e-book online American Mythos: Why Our Best Efforts to Be a Better Nation PDF

By Robert Wuthnow

ISBN-10: 0691138559

ISBN-13: 9780691138558

The USA used to be equipped 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 ebook, popular sociologist Robert Wuthnow examines those so much American of stories--narratives approximately individualism, immigration, luck, faith, and ethnicity--through the eyes of modern immigrants. In doing so, he demonstrates how the "American mythos" has either legitimized American society and avoided it from totally knowing its beliefs. This magisterial paintings is a mirrored image and meditation at the nationwide cognizance. It info how americans have generally depended on narratives to handle what it skill to be powerful, morally dependable contributors and to give an explanation for why a few everyone is 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 move 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 by means of the problems immigration offers. 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. studying how cultural narratives would possibly not, and infrequently don't, mirror the truth of ultra-modern society, it demanding situations readers to develop into extra reflective approximately what it ability to dwell as much as the yank excellent.

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34 Abolitionist arguments that included African Americans among those who were endowed with moral responsibility did not prevail everywhere. A war between the states was waged over conflicting definitions of personhood and rights. Following the war, the Protestant consensus that had defined itself as a universal understanding of morality gradually lost force because of immigration, greater religious diversity, and industrialization. “The religious habits of mind that had built a Protestant Christian America divided and eventually petered out after the war,” writes Noll.

If power resident in the citizenry is an essential feature of democracy, then an arrogation of power by the few signals the end of demo- D E E P C U LT U R E A N D D E M O C R AT I C R E N E WA L 21 cratic rule. That is Tocqueville’s threat from above. It is the principal reason for America’s system of checks and balances and for our insistence that no citizen, no matter how powerful, is above the law. We protect ourselves against totalitarianism through legislation, a strong judicial system, and periodic elections.

Gender, race, religion, national origin, lifestyle, and region all encourage differences of opinion. This diversity generates individual identities that do not take their cues from any one source. Yet diversity produces concerns of a different kind. A diverse society is one in which centrifugal forces dominate. Not only are there special interest groups that create political conflict in the name of identity politics. Individual identities also proliferate as people identify with unique combinations of ethnicity or race or religion based on an increasing diversity of ancestry and national origin.

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American Mythos: Why Our Best Efforts to Be a Better Nation Fall Short by Robert Wuthnow


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