Summary of Broke and Patriotic

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Broke and Patriotic book summary

Editorial Rating

8

Qualities

  • Analytical
  • Eye Opening

Recommendation

Being broke in America is no picnic. Good jobs are scarce, the social safety net is sparse, and upward mobility is increasingly improbable. Despite all that, a significant percentage of poor Americans express deep pride in their country and scarcely question its reputation as a land of opportunity. Even flat-broke Americans praise their homeland as the best country in the world. Sociologist Francesco Duina explores this paradox and offers a revealing portrait of patriotism at the bottom of the US income ladder. While it may not come as a surprise that poor white Americans are patriotic, Duina also interviews low-income African-Americans who, despite their financial struggles and America’s fraught racial history, believe the United States is the best country in the world. To his credit, Duina doesn’t overreach in this clear, readable study. He limited his travels to Alabama and Montana and interviewed only poor Americans who described themselves as patriots. Thanks to this sharp focus, he brings back eye-opening results – along with the unfortunate conclusion that poor patriots often prove uninformed or inarticulate. Dishearteningly, Duina’s interviews reveal no shortage of ignorant and illogical opinions. He delves into psychoanalysis, presenting the theory that love of country can serve as a coping mechanism. Duina suggests that when everything else in life is difficult, poor patriots take comfort in believing they are citizens of the world’s greatest nation. While this report isn’t exhaustive, it provides a welcome addition to the growing genre of titles about the disconnect between Americans’ economic fortunes and their political beliefs. Thomas Frank kicked off this genre in 2005 with What’s the Matter with Kansas? Since then, other authors have weighed in with worthy and illuminating works such as White Working Class and Strangers in Their Own Land. Duina’s open-minded, thorough approach is refreshing, especially in that he brings no discernible ideological position to his study. And he offers a great deal of compassion to his subjects.

About the Author

Francesco Duina, a professor of sociology at Bates College, also wrote Winning: Reflections on an American Obsession.

Summary

Poor Patriots: Hope Amid Struggle

Poor Americans bear the brunt of their nation’s crime, of its skimpy safety net and its increasingly diminishing upward mobility. They toil in jobs with long hours, difficult working conditions and bare-bones benefits. And yet they feel great loyalty toward the United States. Among impoverished Americans in Alabama and Montana, heartfelt patriotism cuts across race, region, religion and party affiliation. Patriotism among the poor also proves impervious to financial shocks. After the Great Recession, low-income Americans became even more patriotic.

Eddie, 56, an African-American Alabaman in Birmingham, embodies this dichotomy. He lives amid high rates of robbery and assault. He earns less than $1,000 a month, an income level that makes daily life a struggle. He served in the US Army but receives only meager government benefits. He’s aware of growing income inequality in his nation, of his own inability to thrive economically and of America’s history of slavery. Despite all that, Eddie is a devout patriot.

The Paradox of Poor Patriots

In 2014, some 47 million Americans – fully 15% ...


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    g. 5 months ago
    穷人更爱国,主要原因:1.价值观培养。长期的文化传统,使得很多爱国穷人坚信,美国是一个机会平等的地方,只有肯努力,你都会变得更好,都有一个美国梦。而实际上,阶层固化,仅凭借个人努力,很难实现阶层跨越,但穷人大都对此现状视而不见。2.阶层固化进一步强化了爱国价值观。军队主要从穷人中招募新兵,而军人价值观的灌输更有可能导致爱国主义。美国军人数量庞大,估计有数千万之众,美国所谓穷人数量大致5000万,可见军人比重相当高。3.由于受教育程度较低以及对其他国家现状不了解等因素形成的偏见,美国穷人似乎大都有一种优越感,认为自己过得不好,但其他国家的人更糟。一句话概括:驯化的力量。

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