Self-help literature is generally perceived as an American cultural literacy and a socioeconomic phenomenon, however, this could change. As an American cultural literacy, self-help is prolific in American bookstores, libraries, and online retail websites. As a socioeconomic phenomenon, it has become a multi-billion dollar business. Unique attributes of American society such as capitalism, individualism, and wealth creation have contributed to the success of the self-help generation in America.  The idea of self-help has also been engrained in America’s historical context – starting with Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography in the 18th century, following with the post WWII Era where success is equated with wealth, and continuing today in a twenty-first century capitalist society where individual success is encouraged and sought.

            As the self-help phenomenon continues to grow in America and globalization results in the expansion of American values, many socialist societies, especially in Asia, have been influenced by these ways of thinking. One country in particular that has been affected by the Americanization of cultural values is Japan. This can be seen in a historical context and throughout today. The Americanization of values imposed upon socialist countries has changed the social and economic environment of these countries. As more emphasis is placed on individual success, these countries are ripe for investment in self-help books. It can be argued that the economic success of the self-help genre can be duplicated in other societies that take upon more American values and that another multi-billion dollar frontier is waiting to be developed.



3 Comments so far

  1.    Emma Green on April 19, 2013 5:53 pm

    Michelle, like I mentioned in class I really enjoy this type of funneling work that you chosen for your readers to become acclimated to your argument. I think that if you could find a way to purge some of the extraneous and less pertinent details that you’ve included in your introduction this could be an extremely effective start to your paper.

  2.    Claire Bowen on April 19, 2013 6:13 pm

    I’m with Emma on the funnel effect, Michelle! Now it’s a matter of refining your terms and really puzzling out the connection (or disconnect?) you seem to want to make between economic and cultural “values.”

  3.    Mark Shaffer on April 22, 2013 5:21 pm

    I also agree that the funneling effect works perfectly in this introduction. However, I think there are some issues with terms. You talk about capitalism, individuality and other things as if they are distinctly American things. But, I think you need to be more specific with your generalized terms because these are not necessarily strictly American. But I do really like the connection between the spread of self-help books and the spread of American economics and society.

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