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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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All You Can Be, or Some Conclusions

All You Can Be, or Some Conclusions

(p.175) Chapter 6 All You Can Be, or Some Conclusions
Self-Help, Inc.

Micki McGee

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows how the cultures of self-improvement might be mined for more progressive political opportunities, and argues that the recognition of the labor inherent in the making of selves in itself offers political possibilities. It then addresses what might be recuperated from the notion of “being all one can be.” Prior, tired models of the self have fostered the belabored self. Self-improvement culture counteracts the opportunities for individuals to understanding injuries or grievances as part of systematic social problems, and also operates on the belief that wealth is a sign of industry, intelligence, competence, or attunement with the universe. The ideal of political change through imaginative transformation must be joined to a culture of collective dialogue to forge effective political transformation. A literature of self-improvement has emerged that advises self-fulfillment and self-improvement as an antidote to economic uncertainty. This literature recycles images from prior self-improvement and inspirational literatures.

Keywords:   self-improvement, labor, belabored self, political transformation, cultures, social problems

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