Stewart Ewen Chosen People

2054 words 9 pages
RWS 100
Stuart Ewen’s Chosen People
“It’s not what you own its what people think you own” (Ewen 183). Consumerism is fueling today’s “middle class”. Stewart Ewen’s “Chosen People” goes into detail about the rise of the materialistic middle class.
As Ewen begins by describing the two contrasting perspectives of social reality. “It described factory industrialism as producing the accoutrements of a democracy, one which invites every man to enhance his own comfort and status. Equating democracy with consumption” (Ewen 187). Ewen recognizes that “Mass production, according to this outlook was investing individuals with tools of identity, marks of their personhood” (Ewen 187). One side of the perception of social reality is production.
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After all “to depend on charity is an advertisement of one’s destitution and poverty that the public is very slow to forget” (qtd. in Ewen 192).
Ewen, along with other scholars such as Anthony Smith believe that as time moves forward, wealth finds its ways into fewer and fewer hands. In a book review on The Super-Rich: The Unjust World of Global Capitalism by Stephen Haseler, Smith elaborates on the idea that the rich continue to accumulate wealth while the poor are left to suffer. “The rich are not just getting richer, but getting "super-rich", while the poor are getting poorer”(qtd. in Smith 237). The economic gap continues to get larger. Smith is therefore illustrating Ewen’s argument by stating in almost the same exact words how the gap between rich and poor is growing. In Ewen’s words it was industrialism that sparked the rapid increase in unequal distribution of wealth. . “In mid-nineteenth century America the gap between the rich and poor was widening” (Ewen 188). As industrialism grew and really boomed in the mid 1800’s, so did the difference between the rich and the poor. Ewen points out the problems of “factory capitalism” and argues that the increasingly unequal distribution of wealth between the rich and the poor was “linked to the impoverishment of those labor was being drawn into its sphere of influence” (Ewen 188). Smith believes that while the concept is easy

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