Culture's Vanities: The Paradox of Cultural Diversity in a Globalized World ( American Intellectual Culture Series)

Culture's Vanities: The Paradox of Cultural Diversity in a Globalized World ( American Intellectual Culture Series)

by David Steigerwald
     
 

Americans want it both ways. They are committed to cultural diversity, yet demand an endless variety of cheap consumer goods from a global system that destroys distinct ways of life. Americans have papered over this paradox by embracing the rhetoric of diversity and multiculturalism, hiding the extent to which they have accepted homogenized ways of working and

Overview

Americans want it both ways. They are committed to cultural diversity, yet demand an endless variety of cheap consumer goods from a global system that destroys distinct ways of life. Americans have papered over this paradox by embracing the rhetoric of diversity and multiculturalism, hiding the extent to which they have accepted homogenized ways of working and living. In this groundbreaking work, David Steigerwald exposes this paradox and examines how culture, rather than economics or politics, became the framework for understanding human affairs. Steigerwald criticizes contemporary cultural studies and multiculturalism, showing how they lead, not to true understanding and acceptance, but to mass consumption and bureaucratic power. Culture's Vanities moves debate away from the culture wars by examining what culture actually means and how the modern understanding of it can only destroy true diversity.

Editorial Reviews

Choice
The author provides a well-written, insightful survey of workplace alienation and the loss of craft; the ironies of identity claims, multiculturalism, and 'managed diversity;' and the crisis of the black intellectual, with special attention to Cornel West. Stiegerwald's insistence that analysis by grounded in attention to actual existing conditions continues the discussion among leftist scholars about the direction of critical inquiry. . . . Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.
— G.M. Massey, University of Wyoming
Manfred B. Steger
Bemoaning the ubiquitous commodification of culture in our age of globalization—and thus culture's waning power to effect social change—Steigerwald calls for a 'vigorous cosmopolitanism' that finds its strength not through amorphous 'cultural resistance,' but through concrete political struggles against exploitative global economic forces. Clear-headed and provocative, Culture's Vanities boldly recasts William Morris's aesthetic-democratic vision for our time.
Robert Westbrook
Attention Wal-Mart shoppers, cultural populists, recovering ethnics, megachurchgoers, affirmative action officers, hip-hop entrepreneurs, celebrity intellectuals, and all others who hawk the debased cultural currency of standardized commodities and uprooted identities. In David Steigerwald, you have met your match. Whenever he hears the word 'culture' Steigerwald reaches for his wit-honed scalpel, and quickly disembowels a prevailing catch-word of the contemporary 'diversity' industry, one that has ironically obscured the increasingly homogeneous world of ephemeral goods and alienated experience fostered by global capitalism. A dyspeptic rant—and a marvelous one at that.
Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn
Today culture reigns. It seems to explain everything and justify even more. But culture now seems to refer more to matters of consumer choice, light entertainment, or supposed traits of identity groups than the search for meaning and permanence in works of fine craftsmanship or the formation of real human bonds. The brilliance of Culture's Vanities is its irrevocable critique of the contemporary use of the culture concept—irrevocable because careful readers will never again encounter culture's misuse without hearing Steigerwald's sage corrective. A true note ringing out above the din, Steigerwald's study is both welcome and refreshing. We can only hope that the world has not lost itself so much to its vanities as to fail to acknowledge this study for the remarkable intellectual achievement and call to conscience it is.
CHOICE - G.M. Massey
The author provides a well-written, insightful survey of workplace alienation and the loss of craft; the ironies of identity claims, multiculturalism, and 'managed diversity;' and the crisis of the black intellectual, with special attention to Cornel West. Stiegerwald's insistence that analysis by grounded in attention to actual existing conditions continues the discussion among leftist scholars about the direction of critical inquiry. . . . Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780742511965
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
02/29/2000
Series:
American Intellectual Culture Series
Pages:
276
Product dimensions:
6.44(w) x 9.24(h) x 0.84(d)

Meet the Author

David Steigerwald is associate professor of history at Ohio State University, Marion. He is the author of Wilsonian Idealism in America and The Sixties and the End of Modern America.

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