The American Civilizing Process

Front Cover
John Wiley & Sons, Apr 24, 2013 - Social Science - 400 pages
Since 9/11, the American government has presumed to speak and act in the name of ‘civilization’. But isthat how the rest of the world sees it? And if not, why not?

Stephen Mennell leads up to such contemporary questions through a careful study of the whole span of American development, from the first settlers to the American Empire. He takes a novel approach, analysing the USA’s experience in the light of Norbert Elias’s theory of civilizing (and decivilizing) processes.

Drawing comparisons between the USA and other countries of the world, the topics discussed include:

  • American manners and lifestyles

  • Violence in American society

  • The impact of markets on American social character

  • American expansion, from the frontier to empire

  • The ‘curse of the American Dream’ and increasing inequality

  • The religiosity of American life

Mennell shows how the long-term experience of Americans has been of growing more and more powerful in relation to their neighbours. This has had all-pervasive effects on the way they see themselves, their perception of the rest of the world, and how the rest of the world sees them.

Mennell’s compelling and provocative account will appeal to anyone concerned about America's role in the world today, including students and scholars of American politics and society.


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About the author (2013)

Stephen Mennell is Professor of Sociology at University College Dublin.

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