Synopses & Reviews
"Joel Best has a particular talent for making sociological ideas accessible to a broad audience. In Everyone's a Winner
, Best cleverly and entertainingly examines what he calls our increasingly 'self-congratulatory' culture. While not every book is a winner, this one surely is."and#151;David Grazian, author of Mix It Up: Popular Culture, Mass Media, and Society
"Joel Best has an uncanny ability to identify wildly interesting phenomena and help us better understand their sociological dimensions. His latest excursion on self-congratulatory culture provides an insightful analysis of our incessant quest for constant recognition and its social consequences. The book is a joy to read."and#151;Karen A. Cerulo, author of Never Saw It Coming: Cultural Challenges to Envisioning the Worst
"Joel Best's lively prose and compelling examples paint a vivid portrait of the 'congratulatory culture' produced by the proliferation of awards, heroes, and rankings in modern America. Everyone's a Winner is a fascinating book, highly recommended for anyone interested in the status politics of contemporary society."and#151;Michael Sauder, coeditor of Inequality and Society
"Sociologist Best (The Stupidity Epidemic) takes on the idea of status abundance in contemporary society. 'At the newsstand,' he explains, 'I can find magazines rating the best colleges, hospitals, high schools, employers, places to live...' to such an extent that 'Several times each day, I encounter claims that someone has been designated excellent by somebody else.' Best (no pun intended) examines the implications of 'status inflation' from several perspectives, including in the proliferation of the 'hero' designation, the U.S. News college ranking system, and in K-12 education, there discussing the different approaches most of us take when considering our often failing school systems: 'opportunity' advocates (concerned with racial/economic divides), and the more staunch 'mastery tradition.' The former argue for more recognition to boost self-esteem; the latter are concerned that rewarding sub-par students creates unrealistic expectations. Best presents both sides with clarity and vigor and is clever but never condescending. 'Status affluence suggests that contemporary society has found more ways to assure more people that their lives have value and meaning,' he notes, and despite the inherent humor to be found in this, Best finds something profound in our willingness to treat our world as meaningful. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Every kindergarten soccer player gets a trophy. Many high schools name dozens of seniors as valedictoriansand#151;of the same class. Cars sport bumper stickers that read and#147;USAand#151;Number 1.and#8221; Prizes proliferate in every corner of American society, and excellence is trumpeted with ratings that range from and#147;Academy Award winner!and#8221; to and#147;Best Neighborhood Pizza!and#8221; In Everyoneand#8217;s a Winner, Joel Bestand#151; acclaimed author of Damned Lies and Statistics and many other booksand#151;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.
About the Author
Joel Best is Professor of Sociology at the University of Delaware and the author of Damned Lies and Statistics, More Damned Lies and Statistics, Flavor of the Month, and Stat-Spotting, all from UC Press.
Table of Contents
1. Life in an Era of Status Abundance
2. Prize Proliferation
3. Honoring Students
4. Everyday Heroes
5. Ranking and Rating
6. The Significance of Congratulatory Culture