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Everyone's a Winner

Everyone's a Winner: Life in Our Congratulatory Culture

JOEL BEST
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 216
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1ppxnd
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  • Book Info
    Everyone's a Winner
    Book Description:

    Every kindergarten soccer player gets a trophy. Many high schools name dozens of seniors as valedictorians-of the same class. Cars sport bumper stickers that read "USA-Number 1." Prizes proliferate in every corner of American society, and excellence is trumpeted with ratings that range from "Academy Award winner!" to "Best Neighborhood Pizza!" InEveryone's a Winner, Joel Best- acclaimed author ofDamned Lies and Statisticsand many other books-shines a bright light on the increasing abundance of status in our society and considers what it all means. With humor and insight, Best argues that status affluence fosters social worlds and, in the process, helps give meaning to life in a large society.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94848-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. CHAPTER ONE LIFE IN AN ERA OF STATUS ABUNDANCE
    (pp. 1-28)

    I live surrounded by excellence. On a drive to our local shopping center, I find myself behind an SUV with a bumper sticker declaring the driver’s pride in being the parent of a middle-school honor roll student. In the parking lot, I wind up next to a car bearing a red, white, and blue magnetic ribbon that says, “U.S.A.–#1.” Several of the storefronts in the shopping center sport banners or other signs reporting that the stores have received statewide honors. I live in a small state, and I realize that it must be easier to be designated the “Best...

  5. CHAPTER TWO PRIZE PROLIFERATION
    (pp. 29-57)

    In 1946, the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) began awarding Edgar Awards (named for Edgar Allan Poe); these seem to have been the first annual prizes for outstanding mystery or detective fiction. Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) began offering its own awards in 1955. (Their initial prize, the Crossed Red Herrings Award for the best mystery novel, was renamed the Golden Dagger in 1960.) Today, the award programs for both the MWA and the CWA are more than fifty years old, and both have expanded a good deal during that period. In both cases, the categories for which awards are...

  6. CHAPTER THREE HONORING STUDENTS
    (pp. 58-86)

    For most children, starting school marks the first time they will be evaluated outside the home. Infancy and early childhood tend to be spent with family or in daycare settings where people know you as an individual, care about you, and aren’t especially judgmental. School, in contrast, subjects children to expectations and evaluations, evidenced by graded schoolwork and report cards. Most family members marvel at how much small children learn during their preschool years. “She’s so smart!” they exclaim. And, of course, the progress is striking as little kids learn to walk, talk, and such. But school brings together lots...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR EVERYDAY HEROES
    (pp. 87-113)

    In 1968, the Canadian branch of Purina (the pet food company) established the Purina Animal Hall of Fame program to recognize “hero animals from across the country.” In its first forty years, the program honored 109 dogs, 23 cats, and 1 horse. (In the United States, at least fifteen state veterinary medical associations have animal hall of fame programs, although these tend to have separate categories for hero animals, companion animals, and professional animals, such as guide dogs.) Most of the animals recognized for heroism have performed some sort of life-saving action, but this can take a variety of forms;...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE RANKING AND RATING
    (pp. 114-141)

    We live in a complicated world in which we face an impossible number of choices. The local supermarket stocks tens of thousands of different items; the multiplex will be screening more than a dozen different movies next weekend; there are more than three thousand colleges trying to attract students. A generation ago, someone sitting down to watch television could easily flip through the half-dozen channels available to see what was showing; today, viewers with up-scale cable packages or satellite reception have hundreds of choices. How to choose, how to choose?

    There are various possibilities. You might pick something at random,...

  9. CHAPTER SIX THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CONGRATULATORY CULTURE
    (pp. 142-166)

    Clearly, we live in a time and place characterized by status affluence. Many contemporary Americans are showered with esteem and praise. They are congratulated, even as they congratulate others. Each year, there are more prizes awarded and honors bestowed. Each year, our schools name more valedictorians. We designate more people—and animals—as heroes. We use ratings and rankings to carefully identify and categorize all sorts of merit, with an eye toward highlighting the very best. Our society doesn’t just foster excellence; it celebrates and promotes it. No wonder we’re self-congratulatory—we belong to a congratulatory culture.

    This flies in...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 167-178)
  11. REFERENCES
    (pp. 179-196)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 197-199)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 200-200)