Poor Richard's Principle: Recovering the American Dream through the Moral Dimension of Work, Business, and Money / Edition 1

Poor Richard's Principle: Recovering the American Dream through the Moral Dimension of Work, Business, and Money / Edition 1

by Robert Wuthnow
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691058954

ISBN-13: 9780691058955

Pub. Date: 01/12/1998

Publisher: Princeton University Press

The American Dream is in serious danger, according to Robert Wuthnow—not because of economic conditions, but because its moral underpinnings have been forgotten. In the past this vision was not simply a formula for success, but a moral perspective that framed our thinking about work and money in terms of broader commitments to family, community, and

Overview

The American Dream is in serious danger, according to Robert Wuthnow—not because of economic conditions, but because its moral underpinnings have been forgotten. In the past this vision was not simply a formula for success, but a moral perspective that framed our thinking about work and money in terms of broader commitments to family, community, and humanitarian values. Nowadays, we are working harder than ever, and yet many of us feel that we are not realizing our higher aspirations as individuals or as a people. Here Wuthnow examines the struggles in which American families are now engaged as they try to balance work and family, confront the pressures of consumerism, and find meaning in their careers. He suggests that we can find economic instruction and inspiration in the nation's past—in such figures as Benjamin Franklin, for instance, who was at once the prudent Poor Richard, the engaged public person, and the enthusiastic lover of life.

Drawing on first-hand accounts from scores of people in all walks of life and from a national survey, the book shows that work and money cannot be understood in terms of economic theories alone, but are inevitably rooted in our concepts of ourselves and in the symbolic rituals and taboos of everyday life. By examining these implicit cultural understandings of work and money, the book provides a foundation for bringing moral reasoning more fully to bear on economic decisions. It re-examines the moral arguments that were prominent earlier in our history, shows how these arguments were set aside with the development of economistic thinking, and suggests their continuing relevance in the lives of people who have effectively resisted the pressures of greater financial commitments. Demonstrating that most Americans do bring values implicitly to bear on their economic decisions, the book shows how some people are learning to do this more effectively and, in the process, gain greater control over their work and finances. At a time when policymakers are raising questions about the very survival of the American dream, Poor Richard's Principle offers an analysis of how moral restraint can once again play a more prominent role in guiding our thinking.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691058955
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
01/12/1998
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
444
Product dimensions:
6.15(w) x 9.22(h) x 1.08(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Question of Moral Restraint3
Ch. 1Having It All - and Wanting More: The Social Symptoms of Cultural Distress17
Ch. 2Making Choices: From Short-Term Adjustments to Principled Lives37
Ch. 3Moral Tradition: The Lost Ambivalence in American Culture59
Ch. 4Shifting Perspectives: The Decoupling of Work and Money85
Ch. 5Accounts: The Changing Meanings of White-Collar Work105
Ch. 6(Not) Talking about Money: The Social Sources and Personal Consequences of Subjectivization138
Ch. 7Getting and Spending: The Maintenance and Violation of Symbolic Boundaries169
Ch. 8The Working Class: Changing Conditions and Converging Perspectives206
Ch. 9Family LIfe: The New Challenges of Balancing Multiple Commitments241
Ch. 10Rediscovering Community: The Cultural Potential of Caring Behavior and Voluntary Service265
Ch. 11The Quest for Spirituality: Ambiguous Voices from America's Religious Communities292
Ch. 12Materialism and Moral Restraint: The Role of Ascetic and Expressive Values331
Ch. 13The Possibilities of Moral Discourse: Limitations, Pathologies, and Challenges357
Methodology375
Notes377
Index427

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