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Self-Help, Inc.Makeover Culture in American Life$
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Micki McGee

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195171242

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195171242.001.0001

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From Calling to Vision

From Calling to Vision

Spiritual, Secular, and Gendered Notions

(p.25) Chapter 1 From Calling to Vision
Self-Help, Inc.

Micki McGee

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the emergence of the idea of vocation and calling, and how it has been adapted to various economic circumstances. The idea of “calling” was split between spiritual, otherworldly dimensions and the material, workaday world. The midcentury corporate conformist—William Whyte's “organization man”—relied to a great extent on his domestic partner, who labored under the social phenomenon that Betty Friedan labelled “the feminine mystique”: the ghettoization of large numbers of educated, middle-class women in the role of domestic servants and caregivers. The emergence of an aesthetic dimension to augment the spiritual and therapeutic is first addressed, before a fuller consideration of the belabored self is presented. The aesthetic metaphor increasingly offered an alternative to the religious and theistic, and the emerging ideal of life as a work of art bridges the gap between the secular and the spiritual, while privileging the expressive over the instrumental, or utilitarian, dimension.

Keywords:   vocation, calling, secular, spiritual, Betty Friedan, organization man, belabor, William Whyte

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