By Robert Wuthnow
The United States was once outfitted on tales: stories of thankful immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, Horatio Alger-style adjustments, self-made males, and the Protestant paintings ethic. during this new booklet, 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 figuring out its beliefs. This magisterial paintings is a mirrored image and meditation at the nationwide cognizance. It information how american citizens have usually trusted narratives to handle what it ability to be powerful, morally liable participants and to give an explanation for why a few individuals are extra winning than others--in brief, to assist us make experience of our lives. however it argues that those narratives have performed little to assist us confront new demanding situations. We cross 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 via the problems immigration provides. We champion prosperity for all, yet stay 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. analyzing how cultural narratives would possibly not, and infrequently don't, replicate the truth of modern-day society, it demanding situations readers to turn into extra reflective approximately what it capability to stay as much as the yankee excellent.
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Extra resources for American Mythos: Why Our Best Efforts to Be a Better Nation Fall Short
The answers are most clearly stated in the negative. A good society is one in which individuals do not blindly follow their leaders or conform blindly to popular opinion. In a strong democracy, individuals do not depend on government to do everything for them, nor do they depend too heavily on others. The individuals who constitute a good society are not driven by narrow self-interest. And they are not isolated from one another. Positively, the criteria for a good society include individuals who not only are engaged in the pursuit of happiness but to some extent realize that goal.
51 The past four decades have also witnessed more immigration than has any period since the 1920s. Since immigration policies were reformed in 1965, some 22 million immigrants have come to the United States legally, and as many as 7 to 10 million have come as undocumented workers. The number of Americans who claim Hispanic or Asian ancestry has risen dramatically. On a smaller scale, the number of Americans who identify with religions other than Christianity or Judaism has also increased. Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists have become citizens in larger numbers than ever before.
And other observers in the 1950s is one example. The Organization Man was a cog in a wheel, rather than an independent thinker capable of forming opinions and making moral judgments on his own. With World War II such a recent reminder, it took little imagination to glimpse in the look-alikes streaming from large office buildings an image of the masses assembled at Nazi rallies. In recent years, it has been more common to worry about individuals’ losing their ability to function as thoughtful citizens because of consumerism and television.