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

Paperback (Print)
Buy Used
Buy Used from BN.com
$29.02
(Save 35%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 95%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (21) from $1.99   
  • New (9) from $17.95   
  • Used (12) from $1.99   

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.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
Through dozens of citizens who talked with him, Wuthnow records the continuing stresses in modern economic life.... [The] model of an ideal life, Wuthnow maintains, evolved before the Civil War into two schools of social thought, which he calls 'ascetic' and 'expressive' moralism.... Wuthnow's impressive body of polls and interviews convinces us that both of these modern traditions remain powerful influences in American life today.
— Richard Parker
The Virginia Quarterly Review
In this sociological tract for our times, Wuthnow reconsiders the nature and meaning of the American dream in the late twentieth century. This book goes much further than merely recounting the manifold failings of American economics and culture in the pursuit of happiness.... Wuthnow perceives a moral vacuum at the core of American society, and recommends that Americans systematically revisit the cultural imperatives of an earlier age to reinvent the paradigm of personal success in late capitalism. An important and timely work.
The New York Times Book Review - Richard Parker
Through dozens of citizens who talked with him, Wuthnow records the continuing stresses in modern economic life.... [The] model of an ideal life, Wuthnow maintains, evolved before the Civil War into two schools of social thought, which he calls 'ascetic' and 'expressive' moralism.... Wuthnow's impressive body of polls and interviews convinces us that both of these modern traditions remain powerful influences in American life today.
From the Publisher

"Through dozens of citizens who talked with him, Wuthnow records the continuing stresses in modern economic life.... [The] model of an ideal life, Wuthnow maintains, evolved before the Civil War into two schools of social thought, which he calls 'ascetic' and 'expressive' moralism.... Wuthnow's impressive body of polls and interviews convinces us that both of these modern traditions remain powerful influences in American life today."--Richard Parker, The New York Times Book Review

"In this sociological tract for our times, Wuthnow reconsiders the nature and meaning of the American dream in the late twentieth century. This book goes much further than merely recounting the manifold failings of American economics and culture in the pursuit of happiness.... Wuthnow perceives a moral vacuum at the core of American society, and recommends that Americans systematically revisit the cultural imperatives of an earlier age to reinvent the paradigm of personal success in late capitalism. An important and timely work."--The Virginia Quarterly Review

The New York Times Book Review

Through dozens of citizens who talked with him, Wuthnow records the continuing stresses in modern economic life.... [The] model of an ideal life, Wuthnow maintains, evolved before the Civil War into two schools of social thought, which he calls 'ascetic' and 'expressive' moralism.... Wuthnow's impressive body of polls and interviews convinces us that both of these modern traditions remain powerful influences in American life today.
— Richard Parker
The Virginia Quarterly Review

In this sociological tract for our times, Wuthnow reconsiders the nature and meaning of the American dream in the late twentieth century. This book goes much further than merely recounting the manifold failings of American economics and culture in the pursuit of happiness.... Wuthnow perceives a moral vacuum at the core of American society, and recommends that Americans systematically revisit the cultural imperatives of an earlier age to reinvent the paradigm of personal success in late capitalism. An important and timely work.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Readers of this heavy tome could be forgiven for echoing H.L. Mencken's classic riposte: "Down With Uplift." Wuthnow has paraded an extensive series of case histories chronicling all the strains of our timesfamily breakdown, disaffected children, financial insecurity, unhappiness in the workplace and much more. The author's credentials are impressive: director of the study of American religion at Princeton university. However, the bromides he offers to address these problems are a vague mixture of spiritualism and moral regeneration. Wuthnow has drawn heavily on the thoughts of Benjamin Franklin, including a portion of the title from his most famous work. Which is ironic for a work on morality, as Franklin was a well-known reprobate in his day. (Oct.)
Library Journal
According to Wuthnow (American religion, Princeton Univ.), "the American dream is in serious danger, not because of economic conditions, but because its moral underpinnings have been forgotten." From this premise, Wuthnow uses the results of 2000 surveys to determine what is going on in society today. He thoroughly traces the concepts of work and morality through the years up to the present, looking at who works, policies governing work, and the effects of political economists and economics. Today there is pressure at the workplace because working hard yields the material gains that in turn become the focus, rather than family, community, or religion. Some people are beginning to rethink the American dream in an effort to bring back those older values, and Wuthnow tells us why and how this is taking place. He provides a readable, thought-provoking, and scholarly tome that will appeal to students, general readers who watch current trends in economics and labor, and specialists and scholars in the field.-Steven J. Mayover, Free Lib. of Philadelphia
Review The Virginia Quarterly
In this sociological tract for our times, Wuthnow reconsiders the nature and meaning of the American dream in the late twentieth century....An important and timely work. -- The Virginia Quarterly Review
Kirkus Reviews
A lengthy study of American workers and their relationship with money, though it lacks the spark of Wuthnow's foster father, Benjamin Franklin.

Wuthnow, a noted professor of religion (Princeton; God and Mammon in America, 1994, etc.), here conducts extensive interviews with Americans to reveal what he sees as a disparity between work, money, and spiritual health. Some of the interviewees raise interesting points. One claims that the difference between a salary of $30,000 and $70,000 is minimal; it's the move from $12,000 to $30,000 that counts. Another, a wealthy lawyer, assuages his fear of spending too much by compulsively turning out lights. All of those interviewed complain that they feel distant from family and values. Wuthnow's main point, which he illustrates with heavy-handed quotes and the story of Franklin, is that a more moral pursuit of money is needed. His theory—that a moral orientation to economics allows a worker a measure of choice—is a good one. The American Dream, he argues, has drifted more into a steady drone of endless work, and only an infusion of values can save it. However, while Wuthnow quotes a good deal of statistics, it's not clear why he thinks this amoral trend in the American economy has happened. He gives a number of examples of workers caught by golden handcuffs (they earn a lot, but they spend as much as they earn, so the cycle is endless), with the not-so-subtle implication that it is the lack of moral direction in their job choice that has led them astray, rather than the fact they don't save any of their earnings. His particular brand of Judeo-Christian morality is hardly a balm to people who simply can't manage money.

Though the book is rather plodding and offers vague philosophy instead of action, it does raise important questions about the internal life of the American worker.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691058955
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 1/12/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 444
  • Sales rank: 1,300,447
  • Product dimensions: 6.15 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Question of Moral Restraint 3
Ch. 1 Having It All - and Wanting More: The Social Symptoms of Cultural Distress 17
Ch. 2 Making Choices: From Short-Term Adjustments to Principled Lives 37
Ch. 3 Moral Tradition: The Lost Ambivalence in American Culture 59
Ch. 4 Shifting Perspectives: The Decoupling of Work and Money 85
Ch. 5 Accounts: The Changing Meanings of White-Collar Work 105
Ch. 6 (Not) Talking about Money: The Social Sources and Personal Consequences of Subjectivization 138
Ch. 7 Getting and Spending: The Maintenance and Violation of Symbolic Boundaries 169
Ch. 8 The Working Class: Changing Conditions and Converging Perspectives 206
Ch. 9 Family LIfe: The New Challenges of Balancing Multiple Commitments 241
Ch. 10 Rediscovering Community: The Cultural Potential of Caring Behavior and Voluntary Service 265
Ch. 11 The Quest for Spirituality: Ambiguous Voices from America's Religious Communities 292
Ch. 12 Materialism and Moral Restraint: The Role of Ascetic and Expressive Values 331
Ch. 13 The Possibilities of Moral Discourse: Limitations, Pathologies, and Challenges 357
Methodology 375
Notes 377
Index 427
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)