Insights from an ethnography of the American housing market

By | January 8, 2011

In her latest column, Gillian Tett draws attention to the research of Anne Jefferson, an anthropologist who is studying how mortgage foreclosures are unfolding in the United States. This caught my attention:

In the past century, American culture has developed a well-entrenched, commonly shared national narrative to explain and justify success – the myth of the “American dream”. But, observes Jefferson, while “the American dream narrative explains upward mobility … we have fewer cultural narratives to help us understand and cope with downward mobility”. Thus, widespread foreclosures pose a “narrative challenge”; there is no single, commonly agreed national way to explain these events. Different groups are fighting to control the story.

The column is here.

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