The Culture Struggle
Prices for book: The Culture Struggle
Book ISBN: 9781583227046
Author(s): Michael Parenti
Document type: Trade Paper
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An introduction to ideology
Michael Parenti's "The Culture Struggle" is quite short, but lively and written in a crisp and clear style. In this booklet, he discusses the role and function of culture within our societies as well as those of the past, showing how culture is a battleground of ideology. Parenti engages not just the role of ideology in science and in popular culture, but also in medicine, psychiatry, New Age and cults, marriage, and so forth, all issues relevant to current events.
None of the things he points out will be at all new to anyone who is familiar with radical left critiques, but that does not mean this book is useless or preaching to the choir. Quite the opposite: I think it can play a good role as one of those books that one can give to friends or family members with very little political interest or awareness and to people who are not familiar with or good at reading academic style monographs, but who want to understand the leftist critique of our society. Parenti occasionally still uses terminology that might be difficult for readers of a less educated background (such as "plutocratic" and "monopolistic"), but generally the book is extremely easy to read and still makes a lot of good and important points. So, pass it on to your coworkers or grandparents and anyone else who could use a confrontation with a critical look at society.
M. A. Krul (Amazon.com)
The Reader Struggle
As a progressive/liberal who grew up in the 60's and obtained a graduate degree in community psychology... except for some interesting recent examples this book provides... I have heard it all before. There is little new content in this 134 page book that reads like a group of collected college lectures. Political progressives are likely to feel, at least in part, that Parenti is preaching to the choir. It is good to seek alternative perspectives, to be awake. But now that we have had our consciousness awakened and enlivened... what shall we do?
It is regarding the "What shall we do then, given this is how things are?" question that inevitably comes up when reading this kind of book that the author is largely silent.
Where is the Saul Alinsky for our new century?
Renee Aubuchon (Amazon.com)
I have appreciated Parenti's work since I was an undergraduate student studying sociology. His work has always been well-researched and reasoned, and accessible. He adopts a critical perspective, one where no subject, practice, or policy is off-limits.
I purchased The Culture Struggle after listening to a public radio interview (the name of the program escapes me) in which Mr. Parenti, whilst discussing his book, described the dangers of both ethnocentrism and mindless cultural relativism. Both are, he points out, dangerous. In TCS, Parenti picks apart a variety of socio-cultural issues--from the status of women to the medicalization of deviance--in a way that is thoughtful and engaging. He makes a point of grounding his ideas in "real world" examples, using familiar and not-so-familiar events and statistics to illustrate and support his claims. For example, in examining how economic and social forces shape notions of mental health and mental illness, Parenti introduces the "condition" of drapetomania. Drapetomania was, he tells us, a condition that affected enslaved persons. The symptoms? A desire for freedom from bondage. The text is filled with similar examples.
Most social scientists will not be surprised by the points Parenti addresses. We are already familiar with the status of women globally, the dangers of ethnocentrism, the social construction of reality...Parenti, though, breathes new life into these familiar concerns. He has a knack for reminding us why such matters are meaningful outside of the academic setting. We need to be reminded of this every now and again.
I believe that this text could be a powerful teaching tool in undergraduate sociology classes. It brings the core concerns to life and offers a window into what it means to think critically about the world around us.
Harvest Moon (Amazon.com)
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