American Individualisms: Child Rearing and Social Class in by A. Kusserow

By A. Kusserow

What are tough and gentle individualisms? during this specified ethnography of 3 groups in long island and Queens, Kusserow interviews mom and dad and academics (from prosperous to these on welfare) at the varieties of not easy and gentle individualisms they motivate of their young children and scholars. American Individualisms explores the real factor of sophistication changes within the socialization of individualism in the USA. It offers American individualism no longer as one unmarried homogeneous, stereotypic life-pattern as frequently claimed to be, yet as variable, class-differentiated types of individualism instilled in children via their mom and dad and preschool academics in ny and Queens. via offering wealthy descriptions of the situational, class-based individualisms that take root in groups with tremendously assorted visions of the long run, Kusserow brings social inequality again into formerly bland and usual discussions of yank individualism.

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Extra resources for American Individualisms: Child Rearing and Social Class in Three Neighborhoods

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They often gave much shorter, succinct ‘‘answers’’ to my questions, and I tried very hard to get them to open up further via lots of obvious interest and encouragement. I then wondered whether I came across as demeaning in my somewhat fawning attempt to get them to open up. These were shrewd women who could also see I was desperate for an interview. Still there was an air of suspicion around these mothers. Sometimes I simply got the feeling they were wondering what I wanted from them, and they were just waiting for the interview to end.

Although the words ‘‘autonomy,’’ ‘‘self-confidence,’’ and ‘‘independence’’ could be plucked out of these stories, they remain empty vagaries without the particular fabric from which they were torn. Without reference to how the cultural model (see Holland and Quinn, 1987; Strauss and Quinn, 1997) of individualism is used and embedded in the particular local context of a particular community, social class, or individual, we run the risk of understanding individualism as homogenous and generic, as meaning the same thing to both groups of parents.

Holland and Kipnis (1994) in their analysis of American conceptions of embarrassment, provide a rich non-dichotomous analysis by pointing to the ways in which, in some contexts, such as embarrassment, the two orientations coexist. They write, ‘‘It is only when we acknowledge both the sociocentric and the egocentric that we can understand the dialectic within the American cultural model of embarrassment’’ (1994:333). Waters (1990) also writes of the ways in which ethnicity is a symbol used by Americans to fulfill two equally important needs of community and individual uniqueness simultaneously, pointing to the presence of both individualistic and sociocentric strains in one symbol.

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