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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 Self-Made to Belabored

From Self-Made to Belabored

(p.11) Introduction From Self-Made to Belabored
Self-Help, Inc.

Micki McGee

Oxford University Press

This book investigates how the promise of self-help can lead workers into a new sort of enslavement – into a cycle where the self is not improved but endlessly belabored – and explores the shifts in self-improvement culture in an era of dramatic economic and social changes. It also provides a glance of how the cultures of personal transformation, though largely a force for maintaining the status quo, might be mined for progressive political opportunities. When social and economic structures—gender role expectations and employment conditions—undergo dramatic changes, individual and interpersonal change is inevitable. The culture of self-improvement is seen as fragmented, varied, mutable, and, at least in theory, potentially emancipatory. This chapter provides an overview of the chapters included in the book. The forced labor of self-making, the belaboring of our selves, is at the centre of the book's discussion.

Keywords:   belaboring, self-help, self-making, personal transformation, gender, employment, self-improvement, forced labor

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