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

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

by Robert Wuthnow
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

ISBN-10: 0691138559

ISBN-13: 9780691138558

Pub. Date: 07/14/2008

Publisher: Princeton University Press

America was built on stories: tales of grateful immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, Horatio Alger-style transformations, self-made men, and the Protestant work ethic. In this new book, renowned sociologist Robert Wuthnow examines these most American of stories—narratives about individualism, immigration, success, religion, and ethnicity—through the

Overview

America was built on stories: tales of grateful immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, Horatio Alger-style transformations, self-made men, and the Protestant work ethic. In this new book, renowned sociologist Robert Wuthnow examines these most American of stories—narratives about individualism, immigration, success, religion, and ethnicity—through the eyes of recent immigrants. In doing so, he demonstrates how the "American mythos" has both legitimized American society and prevented it from fully realizing its ideals.

This magisterial work is a reflection and meditation on the national consciousness. It details how Americans have traditionally relied on narratives to address what it means to be strong, morally responsible individuals and to explain why some people are more successful than others—in short, to help us make sense of our lives. But it argues that these narratives have done little to help us confront new challenges. We pass laws to end racial discrimination, yet lack the resolve to create a more equitable society. We welcome the idea of pluralism in religion and values, yet we are shaken by the difficulties immigration presents. We champion prosperity for all, but live in a country where families are still homeless.

American Mythos aptly documents this disconnect between the stories we tell and the reality we face. Examining how cultural narratives may not, and often do not, reflect the reality of today's society, it challenges readers to become more reflective about what it means to live up to the American ideal.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691138558
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
07/14/2008
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
1,051,104
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction 1
CHAPTER 1: Deep Culture and Democratic Renewal 12
CHAPTER 2: Quandaries of Individualism 38
CHAPTER 3: The Justice of Privilege 79
CHAPTER 4: Self-Made Men and Women 104
CHAPTER 5: In America,All Religions Are True 128
CHAPTER 6: Ethnic Ties That Bind (Loosely) 163
CHAPTER 7: Saving Ourselves from Materialism 192
CHAPTER 8: Venues for Reflective Democracy 218
Appendix 235
Notes 239
Selected Bibliography 263
Index 277

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >