Academic journal article et Cetera

Snobbery: The American Version

Academic journal article et Cetera

Snobbery: The American Version

Article excerpt

Joseph Epstein. Snobbery: The American Version. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2002.

Joseph Epstein, a university lecturer and the former editor of The American Scholar, presents in this book an informative and entertaining investigation of snobbery in American life.

"A snob is in one common definition anyone who thinks himself superior in a way that demands recognition," says Epstein, who believes most of us fit this meaning in one way or another. American democracy, he maintains, particularly encourages snobbishness since our culture of social mobility, unlike hierarchical societies, allows individuals the opportunity to climb a ladder of constantly changing rank and preference. (The author notes that Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams, referred to her fellow citizens as "the mobility.")

Snobbery in America used to be about Wasp culture and its accouterments of prep schools, Ivy League colleges, cotillions, debutante balls, the Social Register, etc. But since the fall of the "Waspocracy" new outlets for snobbery have developed in areas such as food and wine, fashion, high-achieving children, schools, politics, health, being with-it, name-dropping, and lots more. …

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