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

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Oxford University Press, 2005 M09 8 - 304 pages
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Why doesn't self-help help? Cultural critic Micki McGee puts forward this paradoxical question as she looks at a world where the market for self-improvement products--books, audiotapes, and extreme makeovers--is exploding, and there seems to be no end in sight. Rather than seeing narcissism at the root of the self-help craze, as others have contended, McGee shows a nation relying on self-help culture for advice on how to cope in an increasingly volatile and competitive work world. 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 lively book will strike a chord with its acute diagnosis of the self-help trap and its sharp suggestions for how we can address the alienating conditions of modern work and family life.

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Self-Help, Inc.: makeover culture in American life

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A backlash against the so-called self-help industry--a multibillion-dollar cash cow--has produced several new notable books (although they are unlikely to enjoy the circulation rates of works by self ... Read full review


Coveys Daughter and Her Dilemma
From SelfMade to Belabored
Spiritual Secular and Gendered Notions
Survivalism and the Inward Turn
Gender and the Logic of Diminished Expectations
From JobHunters to ArtistEntrepreneurs
The Making of the Belabored Self
Chapter 6 All You Can Be or Some Conclusions
Some Notes on Method

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About the author (2005)

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 University.

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