The Significance of Congratulatory Culture

Joel Best

in Everyone's a Winner

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780520267169
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948488 | DOI:
The Significance of Congratulatory Culture

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Many contemporary Americans are showered with esteem and praise. They are congratulated, even as they congratulate others. There are more prizes awarded and honors bestowed. Their society doesn't just foster excellence; it celebrates and promotes it. This flies in the face of traditional sociological theories that assume that status, esteem, honor, and prestige are scarce commodities, for which there is still competition that results in a few winners and lots of losers. Contemporary society in contrast seems to be filled with status — and continually manufacturing more. Lots of people are encouraged to think of themselves as winners — at school, at work, and at play. There are all sorts of structural and cultural constraints on opportunity, and people face very different sorts of obstacles. Children richly endowed with cultural capital have a much easier time than kids from less advantaged backgrounds; the advantaged have better access to status and particularly to the more exclusive, more prestigious forms of status.

Keywords: esteem; praise; contemporary Americans; capital; status

Chapter.  7145 words. 

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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