Self-Help, Inc.

Self-Help, Inc. : Makeover Culture in American Life

3.67 (31 ratings by Goodreads)
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Why doesn't self-help help? Millions of people turn to self-improvement when they find that their lives aren't working out quite as they had imagined. The market for self-improvement products-books, audiotapes, life-makeover seminars and regimens of all kinds-is exploding, and there seems to be no end in sight for this trend. In Self-Help, Inc.: Makeover Culture in American Life, cultural critic Micki McGee asks what our seemingly insatiable demand for self-help can tell us about ourselves at the outset of this new century. The answers are surprising. Rather than finding an America that is narcissistic or self-involved, as others have contended, McGee sees a nation relying on self-help culture for advice on how to cope in an increasingly volatile and competitive work world. For Americans today, a central component of working has become working on themselves. "Be all one can be," they are told. Build your own personal brand. As women have entered the paid labor force in growing numbers, the Protestant work ethic has been augmented by a Romantic imperative that one create a vision-a script-for one's life. More and more, Americans are compelled to regard themselves in effect as "human capital." No longer simply an enterprising or entrepreneurial individual, the new worker is the artist and the artwork, the "CEO of Me, Inc.," in Tom Peters' memorable phrase, and the central product line. Self-Help, Inc. reveals how makeover culture traps Americans in endless cycles of self-invention and overwork as they struggle to stay ahead of a rapidly restructuring economic order. A lucid and fascinating treatment of the modern obsession with work and self-improvement, this book will strike a chord with its diagnosis of the self-help trap and with its suggestions for how we can address the alienating conditions of modern work and family more

Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 152 x 234 x 24mm | 539.78g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0195171241
  • 9780195171242
  • 2,023,258

Review quote

McGee writes clearly and thoughtfully.... She moves seamlessly from high theory to pop psychobabble, using the former to illustrate the powers of the latter. Overall, she offers a compelling argument for resisting the self-improvement genre's worldview. * American Journal of Sociology *show more

About Micki McGee

Micki McGee is a sociologist and cultural critic who has taught at New York University, Rutgers University, and The New School for Social Research. The recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, including residencies at the MacDowell Colony and Blue Mountain Center, she has recently joined the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Fordham more

Table of contents

Acknowledgements ; Prologue. Covey's Daughter and Her Dilemma ; Introduction. From Self-Made to Belabored ; 1. From Calling to Vision: Spiritual, Secular and Gendered Notions ; 2. From Power! to Personal Power!: Survivalism and the Inward Turn ; 3. From Having It All to Simple Abundance: Gender and the Logic of Diminished Expectations ; 4. The Self at Work: From Job-Hunters to Artist-Entrepreneurs ; 5. At Work on the Self: The Making of the Belabored Self ; 6. All You Can Be, or Some Conclusions ; Appendix. Some Notes on Method ; Notes ; Bibliographyshow more

Rating details

31 ratings
3.67 out of 5 stars
5 26% (8)
4 39% (12)
3 19% (6)
2 10% (3)
1 6% (2)
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