The Compassionate Temperament: Care and Cruelty in Modern Society

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
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The argument of this book is that it is in the nature of modernity to foster compassion. Most critics tend to think of modernity as corrosive of moral sentiments. They see clearly the way in which modernity breaks down older social bonds, but they are much less attentive to the ways in which it also builds new ones. This book offers an historically informed corrective to this common view. Sznaider demonstrates that compassion, understood as the organized campaign to lessen the suffering of strangers, is a distinctly modern form of morality. It played an important role in the rise of modern society, and it continues to play an important role today. And when waves of compassion break out into demands for political action, these demands need to be understood rather than criticized as excuses or irrelevancies. Incorporating and critiquing the work of Arendt, Foucault, and other social theorists, this book is both erudite and historically rich—sure to be both controversial and influential among those who debate modernity, morality, and social justice.
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About the author

Natan Sznaider is senior lecturer at the Academic College of Tel-Aviv-Yaffo in Tel-Aviv, Israel.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
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Published on
Dec 20, 2000
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Pages
144
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ISBN
9780742574526
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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J. D. Vance
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"A riveting book."—The Wall Street Journal

"Essential reading."—David Brooks, New York Times

From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.

But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.

A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

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