Moral Populism in the Twenty-First Century
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: NYU Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Writing a book about economic controversies in the early years of the twenty-first century turned out to be a very tricky project. The past several years have witnessed economic events of historic proportions, including a global financial crisis, government intervention in financial firms, and reforms to the nation’s health care market that have perhaps been matched...
Part 1: Why Should We Care about the Wal-Mart Debate?
1. Constructing Moral Markets
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Despite what its title might suggest, this is not really a book about Wal-Mart. Curiosity about the world’s largest retailer has prompted a spate of recent books about the company’s business model, history, and influence on the world’s economy—all worthy topics, to be sure. But as a sociologist, I am less concerned with what Wal-Mart does and more with what...
2. Contextualizing the Wal-Mart Wars
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December 22, 1992, turned out to be an important day for both the history and the future of the Wal-Mart corporation. As Robert Slater tells the story, shortly before Sam Walton died, he had reluctantly agreed to give a pre-Christmas interview to Dateline NBC’s Jane Pauley, whose producers pitched the story as a positive exploration of Wal-Mart’s winning retail strategies. Keeping the company’s commitment after Walton’s death, the...
Part 2: Competing Frameworks for Market Morality
3. Individuals and Communities
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When Sarah Palin addressed a crowd of Americans who had assembled in Boston on April 14, 2010, she was preaching to the faithful. Marking the last stop of the Tea Party Express—a bus convoy that had traveled throughout the country to rally groups of Americans advocating smaller government, individual freedoms, and fiscal restraint—Palin’s keynote speech concluded...
4. Thrift and Benevolence
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Americans’ debates over health care reform raise a host of issues inviting moral reflection from the American people. Is health care a right or a privilege? Who should make decisions about costly end-of-life procedures? And perhaps most important, how much will health care reform ultimately cost? Aside from the ethical issues involved in health care decisions (the...
5. Freedom and Fairness
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As Americans welcomed in the new year in 2009, most were still reeling from the previous year’s financial meltdown. Americans had lost substantial portions of their retirement savings in the fall’s perilous stock market decline, and watched the equity in their homes evaporate seemingly overnight. Economists forecast double-digit rates of unemployment, and cable...
Part 3: Market Morality in Media and Politics
6. How Wal-Mart Wins the War of Words
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Wal-Mart’s critics, like most social movement activists, have a common goal: to be noticed in the press. For groups like Wal-Mart Watch, earning recognition in larger spheres of discourse is a prerequisite for success because these groups have no real constituency, such as a local chapter that meets regularly to discuss goals, tactics, and future endeavors. At best, their core “constituency"...
7. Moral Populism in the Twenty-First Century
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The joke goes something like this: A union member, a member of the Tea Party, and a corporate CEO are sitting around a table looking at a plate that holds a dozen cookies. The CEO reaches across and takes eleven cookies, looks at the Tea Partier, and says, “Look out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie.” Circulated on political blogs and social networking...
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About the Author
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Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013