Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Pop culture and the great American divide.

In a NYT column David Brooks reviews Charles Murray’s book “Coming Apart.” He talks about the great social divide between two tribes of Americans:
... there are vast behavioral gaps between the educated upper tribe (20 percent of the country) and the lower tribe (30 percent of the country). This is where Murray is at his best, and he’s mostly using data on white Americans, so the effects of race and other complicating factors don’t come into play.
Roughly 7 percent of the white kids in the upper tribe are born out of wedlock, compared with roughly 45 percent of the kids in the lower tribe. In the upper tribe, nearly every man aged 30 to 49 is in the labor force. In the lower tribe, men in their prime working ages have been steadily dropping out of the labor force, in good times and bad.
I've started reading Murray's book and the data he presents looks both impressive and disturbing. It's also disturbing to see how popular media exploits the upper/lower tribe stereotypes to sell its product. See for example, how the new Britney Spears music video presents a conflict over a girl between an abusive upper tribe hipster and a lower tribe waiter.

tags: culture, social, media, information

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