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The Culture of Contentment$
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John Kenneth Galbraith

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691171654

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691171654.001.0001

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The Social Character of Contentment

The Social Character of Contentment

An Overview

(p.11) Chapter 2 The Social Character of Contentment
The Culture of Contentment

John Kenneth Galbraith

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses the social dimensions of contentment. In the past, many people in the United States experienced a certain sense of unease, of troubled conscience and associated discomfort when contemplating those who did not share the good fortune of the fortunate. During the time of Ronald Reagan, Americans were being rewarded as they so richly deserved. The chapter first considers the role of the government in subsidizing the well-being of Americans before exploring how the economically and socially fortunate who used to be a small minority have become a majority, not of all citizens but of those who actually vote. It suggests that self-regard is the dominant—indeed the controlling— mood of the Contented Majority. It also examines the most important characteristics of the contented majority, including its attitude toward time, a highly selective view of the role of government, and tolerance of pronounced differences in incomes.

Keywords:   contentment, government, Ronald Reagan, well-being, self-regard, Contented Majority, time, incomes

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