By Robert Wuthnow

ISBN-10: 0691176868

ISBN-13: 9780691176864

How American respectability has been outfitted through maligning those that are not making the grade

How did americans come to think about themselves as decent individuals of the center category? was once it simply by incomes an honest dwelling? Or did it require anything extra? And if it did, what will we research that can nonetheless apply?

The quest for middle-class respectability in nineteenth-century the USA is mostly defined as a technique of inculcating optimistic values similar to honesty, exertions, independence, and cultural refinement. yet clergy, educators, and group leaders additionally outlined respectability negatively, through maligning members and groups—“misfits”—who deviated from authorised norms.

Robert Wuthnow argues that respectability is built through “othering” those that don't healthy into simply recognizable, socially authorized different types. He demonstrates this via an in-depth exam of a large choice of people and teams that turned items of derision. We meet a disabled Civil struggle veteran who labored as a huckster at the edges of the frontier, the spouse of a lunatic who raised her relations whereas her husband was once institutionalized, an immigrant non secular group accused of sedition, and a filthy rich scion charged with profiteering.

Unlike revered american citizens who marched hopefully towards worldly and heavenly good fortune, such misfits have been often overlooked in paeans concerning the kingdom. yet they performed an enormous half within the cultural paintings that made the US, and their tale is key for knowing the “othering” that continues to be rather a lot part of American tradition and politics today.

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American Misfits and the Making of Middle-Class Respectability by Robert Wuthnow


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