Cover image for The new temperance : the American obsession with sin and vice
Title:
The new temperance : the American obsession with sin and vice
Author:
Wagner, David.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boulder, Colo. : WestviewPress, [1997]

©1997
Physical Description:
x, 226 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Reading Level:
1640 Lexile.
ISBN:
9780813325682

9780813325699
Format :
Book

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HN90.M6 W34 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

The war on drugs ... the campaigns against smoking cigarettes ... v-chips to control what children watch on TV ... censoring the Internet and Calvin Klein jeans ads...bipartisan lectures about the dangers of teen sex ... constant warnings about food and fat ... all are examples of what David Wagner terms the "New Temperance." The New Temperance contrasts the new obsession with personal behavior in America during the last two decades with the brief period of relative freedom in the 1960s and early 1970s and suggests strong consistencies with our past. In particular, the late twentieth century appears to have re-created the mood of the Victorian and Progressive Periods, when social movements such as the Temperance, Social Purity, and Vice and Vigilance movements held sway. The New Temperance questions the constant mantra in the media and in political debates about the dangers of personal behavior and challenges America's love affair with repression.


Summary

The war on drugs ? the campaigns against smoking cigarettes ? v-chips to control what children watch on TV ? censoring the Internet and Calvin Klein jeans ads?bipartisan lectures about the dangers of teen sex ? constant warnings about food and fat ? all are examples of what David Wagner terms the ?New Temperance.?The New Temperance contrasts the new obsession with personal behavior in America during the last two decades with the brief period of relative freedom in the 1960s and early 1970s and suggests strong consistencies with our past. In particular, the late twentieth century appears to have re-created the mood of the Victorian and Progressive Periods, when social movements such as the Temperance, Social Purity, and Vice and Vigilance movements held sway. The New Temperance questions the constant mantra in the media and in political debates about the dangers of personal behavior and challenges America's love affair with repression.


Author Notes

David Wagner is associate professor of social work and sociology at the University of Southern Maine. He is the author of two previous books, including Checkerboard Square (Westview, 1993), winner of the 1993 C. Wright Mills Award.


David Wagner is associate professor of social work and sociology at the University of Southern Maine. He is the author of two previous books, including Checkerboard Square (Westview, 1993), winner of the 1993 C. Wright Mills Award.


Reviews 2

Choice Review

Wagner compares historical temperance movements from the 19th and early 20th century with today's campaigns against citizens' sins and vices. He defines the new temperance both as an elite strategy and as a popular social movement that emphasizes four areas of individual behavior: substance abuse, sexual behavior, food and fitness, and improper speech. Using social construction theory, Wagner contextualizes sins and vices within the contemporary social environment. He argues that temperance movements did not arise as a response to an increased incidence in targeted behaviors. Rather, they came about because of economic changes that have sharply reduced the standard of living for many Americans and have increased anxiety and fear of the middle and working classes. The new temperance is a political strategy that cuts across the political spectrum; it has gained popularity because of support from urban middle-class liberals, as well as from more conservative social elements. Wagner argues that because these movements divert attention from the critical issues facing the US and target the behavior of some people more than others, they will not succeed in regulating personal behavior, but rather may help to further divide the US along class and social lines. All levels. G. Rabrenovic; Northeastern University


Choice Review

Wagner compares historical temperance movements from the 19th and early 20th century with today's campaigns against citizens' sins and vices. He defines the new temperance both as an elite strategy and as a popular social movement that emphasizes four areas of individual behavior: substance abuse, sexual behavior, food and fitness, and improper speech. Using social construction theory, Wagner contextualizes sins and vices within the contemporary social environment. He argues that temperance movements did not arise as a response to an increased incidence in targeted behaviors. Rather, they came about because of economic changes that have sharply reduced the standard of living for many Americans and have increased anxiety and fear of the middle and working classes. The new temperance is a political strategy that cuts across the political spectrum; it has gained popularity because of support from urban middle-class liberals, as well as from more conservative social elements. Wagner argues that because these movements divert attention from the critical issues facing the US and target the behavior of some people more than others, they will not succeed in regulating personal behavior, but rather may help to further divide the US along class and social lines. All levels. G. Rabrenovic; Northeastern University


Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
1 The New Temperaturep. 1
2 Déjà Vu All Over Againp. 13
3 Temperance And the Social Construction Of Riskp. 35
4 "The Slippery Slope," Or Scaring Them Straightp. 67
5 Getting "Lean And Mean" The Middle-Class Return To Responsibilityp. 103
6 Manufacturing Consensus The Politics Of Puritanismp. 135
7 From Loyalty Oaths Top. 167
Notesp. 177
About the Book And Authorp. 213
Indexp. 215