Public Policy

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 small business” intended anything. no longer anymore. A boorish and protracted military of meddlers, built 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 so much noticeable obsession. From nationwide crusades opposed to undesirable conduct reminiscent of consuming, smoking, and playing to the efforts of a bunch in Woodbury, Minnesota, to create a fragrance-free paintings surroundings, american citizens are meddling into each one others lives as by no means ahead of. usually masquerading as social quandary or neighborhood involvement, the modern meddlers intrude within the identify of so much every thing: healthiness, security, 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 beautiful, and the way meddling is packaged and advertised. Their end deals clever and infrequently witty cautions concerning the right courting among the person and society.

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Extra resources for A Nation Of Meddlers

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The Increasing Prevalence of Meddling: A Short History Although there exists no single historical treatise on meddling, and therefore no fully accurate baseline, it is hard not to sense that there is much more meddling now then there used to be. We believe that it is possible to make such a case, despite the fact that, in many respects, America has always been a meddlesome nation, experimenting with first this re- The Roots of Meddling 25 form and then with that. Richard Hofstadter wrote as follows about the reformist impulse, which is at the heart of meddling: Americans do not abide very quietly the evils of life.

As Henry Steel Commanger observed: The enthusiasm generated by reform may be judged by the fact that in one two-week period in May in New York in the 1840's, there were meetings of the American Antislavery Society, the New York Antislavery Society, the American Temperance Union, the American Women's Educational Association, the American Bible Society, the American Tract Society, the American Female Guardian Society, and the American Seaman's Friend Society, not counting meetings of church missionary societies and other charity-related groups, (quoted in Hofstadter, 1955:19) The winds of reform in the nineteenth century, according to Nye (1974), were spurred on by several essential ingredients.

One could not achieve happiness on one's own, but the conviction that happiness was expected, achievable, and commonplace in others remained as strong as ever. Others are happy and fulfilled—why not me? It was not always thus. A necessarily abbreviated and partial history shows that the increasing prevalence of meddling has followed certain historical patterns and themes. It is to this subject that we now turn. The Increasing Prevalence of Meddling: A Short History Although there exists no single historical treatise on meddling, and therefore no fully accurate baseline, it is hard not to sense that there is much more meddling now then there used to be.

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