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American Misfits and the Making of Middle-Class Respectability - Princeton Scholarship Online
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American Misfits and the Making of Middle-Class Respectability

Robert Wuthnow


How did Americans come to think of themselves as respectable members of the middle class? Was it just by earning a decent living? Or did it require something more? And if it did, what can we learn that may still apply? The quest for middle-class respectability in nineteenth-century America is usually described as a process of inculcating positive values such as honesty, hard work, independence, and cultural refinement. But clergy, educators, and community leaders also defined respectability negatively, by maligning individuals and groups—“misfits”—who deviated from accepted norms. This book ar ... More

Keywords: middle class, respectability, nineteenth-century America, misfits, othering, American culture, American politics

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2017 Print ISBN-13: 9780691176864
Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018 DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691176864.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Robert Wuthnow, author
Princeton University