The Cynical Society: The Culture of Politics and the Politics of Culture in American Life

Jeffrey C. Goldfarb, Author University of Chicago Press $46 (207p) ISBN 978-0-226-30106-8
Our society is pervaded by an ``easy cynicism'' that promotes acceptance of the way things are, charges sociologist Goldfarb. He sees signs of cynical manipulation all around--in the canned products of mass culture, in ``good performers'' like Ronald Reagan, in the homogenized appeal of People magazine and USA Today. A professor at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan, Goldfarb detects ``cynical mass appeals'' in Allan Bloom's Closing of the American Mind and in Russell Jacoby's The Last Intellectuals. A bracing antidote to inertia, his provocative critique of both the New Left and the New Right pinpoints cynicism and outmoded ideology across the political spectrum. His analysis of Toni Morrison's Beloved and Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities serves as springboard for a discussion of ways to foster an alive critical culture and pluralistic participation in mass democracy. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
Paperback - 207 pages - 978-0-226-30107-5
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