General History/American Studies

Advertisement


Question
Thankyou for helping me,

There has always been a Protestant Work Ethic in the American Character. Do you think the American Character improved or got worse as a result of this change you are talking about?

I think the American Character has changed. Discussing the fact how people see work and labor from the protestant era to now. im having a hard time giving examples.

Answer
Hi Tigest,
Thanks for clarifying.
Check out the Wikipedia articles on:
Protestant Work Ethic
Prosperity Theology
Achievement Ideology

Those articles say that Prosperity Theology is a relatively recent idea, only of the past few decades. Also note, Achievement Ideology, the belief that success is derives solely from hard work, is most widely believed by Caucasian men, the one group that generally does not have to confront racial/gender/ethnic discrimination.

If you read on-line news sites like CNN.com, AlJazera.com, or Drudge Report, you might recall seeing at least once a week there will be a news story about how the economy is biased against certain segments of society. If you read the comments posted by readers, most readers who make posts have a conservative point of view. They always make comments like, 'It's their own fault that the poor are poor. They're not trying hard enough.' That's Prosperity Theology and Achievement Ideology playing out.

One theme in business schools the past several decades is a fascination with metrics. One mantra you hear all the time in business schools is 'If you can't measure it, don't do it.' The easiest way to measure business activity is via the bottom line. How much profit or revenue will a certain action generate? From there you get to the idea that all good decisions will generate income or profit. Perhaps for this reason, as well as other reasons, many non-profit organizations are finding it difficult to recruit volunteers because a growing number of Americans believe that anything worth doing will generate an income.

A while back there was a story in the news about how the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, will let several million Americans retire early. These are people in their early 60s who have already saved up enough to retire but who won't qualify for Medicare until they are 65, so they keep working just to keep their health insurance. By letting people buy insurance from elsewhere besides their job, the ACA will let these people retire early. The right wing pundits, Fox News/Rush Limbaugh/Drudge Report/etc. jumped all over this saying that people had a moral obligation to produce as much wealth as possible. It was therefore immoral for the government to encourage people to retire early. This would be an example of Prosperity Theology and Achievement Ideology. So like everything else in America today, the Protestant Work Ethic has become politicized.

Hope this helps,
C.M.  

General History

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


C.M. Aaron

Expertise

My interests are pretty diverse: military history, technology, and social trends for most historical eras, general U.S. history, European history, especially Roman and early medieval history but also the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, European colonialism in Africa, a little bit of Asian history, especially as it relates to European and American imperialism. I'm also pretty good with presidential history.

Experience

I've read hundreds of history books on various subjects. I've also been writing historical fiction for about twenty years. Story development drives my research. I am also a tour guide at a local museum.

Education/Credentials
Bachelor's degree in history and geography.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.