A Nation Of Meddlers by Charles Edgley, Dennis Brissett

By Charles Edgley, Dennis Brissett

There has been a time while the word “It’s none of your enterprise” intended anything. no longer anymore. A boorish and chronic military of meddlers, outfitted with righteous indignation and a powerful array of theories and applied sciences, has made nearly everyone’s company its personal. Meddling within the lives of others is now the republic’s such a lot seen obsession. From nationwide crusades opposed to undesirable behavior equivalent to consuming, smoking, and playing to the efforts of a gaggle in Woodbury, Minnesota, to create a fragrance-free paintings surroundings, american citizens are meddling into every one others lives as by no means ahead of. usually masquerading as social crisis or group involvement, the modern meddlers intrude within the identify of so much every thing: overall healthiness, protection, the commonweal, God, and “for the sake of the children.”Working in the symbolic interactionist culture of cultural research and feedback, Charles Edgley and Dennis Brissett research this emergent phenomenon with insightful and provocative descriptions approximately how we got here to be this fashion, why meddling is so attractive, and the way meddling is packaged and advertised. Their end bargains clever and occasionally witty cautions in regards to the right courting among the person and society.

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Historian Russell Nye captures this reformist spirit of the times in the following passage: 28 The Roots of Meddling American reform was comprehensive rather than selective; reformers, with supreme confidence, attacked on all fronts. Nothing was too large or too small-—one could work for the abolition of slavery or for Sunday mail, or for sensible dress for women, and Christianizing Asia at the same time and with equal fervor, Bronson Alcott once even suggested forming a "Club for the Study and Diffusion of Ideas and Tendencies Proper to the Nineteenth Century" that included the study of nearly everything wrong with the world.

Human nature, fate, chance), then taking control of not only one's own life but also of other people's seems the logical path to Utopia. For those inflicted with the Rousseauian vision12 of innocent man enslaved by a society that interferes with their inalienable right to a perfectly actualized existence, and especially for those who have the education, affluence, and opportunity to commandeer such a vision, life often proves to be a disappointing and irritating proposition. When an entire age finds the unconstrained vision alluring, the source of the frustration occasioned by the inevitable constraints of life are laid all too easily at the feet of others.

To change people fundamentally was not merely to change their behavior; it was to transform their character, after which the behavioral changes being sought would occur naturally. As David Burner and his colleagues point out, in the early temperance movements that preceded prohibition, this happened quite often: Emotional appeals conducted by the traveling road shows of temperance persuaded tens of thousands to stop drinking, and their methods were little different from the current moral support supplied by Alcoholics Anonymous, an otherwise nonmeddling organization predicated on the idea that drunks can help each other stop drinking if that's what they really want to do (Burner et al, 1974: 282).

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