Thursday, 7 April 2011

Short Cuts: Stuff About Cars in Books About Other Things – “The Spirit Level” by Wilkinson & Pickett

The Spirit Level is an evidence-based polemic against inequality, in which Pickett and Wilkinson chart the relationship between a range of social phenomena to demonstrate that countries with higher inequality are more dysfunctional in many other ways too. Spirit Level 2 One of their main points is that all of us suffer from these dysfunctions, not just those unfortunate enough to be at the bottom of the pile. A section on “Raiders and Mavericks” in the chapter on Trust (p57) includes the following comments, “Perhaps another marked of corroded social relations and lack of trust among people was the rapid rise in the popularity of the Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) through the 1980s and 1990s…Not only did the popularity of SUVs suggest a pre-occupation with looking tough, it also reflected growing mistrust and the need to feel safe from others. Josh Lauer, in his paper, ‘Driven to Extremes’.. concluded that the trend reflected American attitudes towards crime and violence, an admiration for rugged individualism and the importance of shutting oneself off from contact with others – mistrust.”  Well put. Click here for Josh Lauer’s paper.

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