Everyones a Winner: Life in Our Congratulatory Culture

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American Airlines. Asociacion de Cooperativas Argentinas C. Borusan CAT. Lockheed Martin. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Munich Re Risk Management Partners. Purdue University. Note that it is not just the individual who stands to gain. The high school wants as many of its students to do as well as possible; if a high school sends its students to selective colleges, that speaks well of the school.

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Therefore, a high school that offers students many arenas for exhibiting excellence such as academics, athletic teams, musical programs, clubs, and on so gives them more chances to gain status, and thereby helps launch them into desirable slots in the larger world, and in the process cements its own reputation as an excellent school. There is also the assumption that status recognition will inspire those who receive it. This is particularly true when people talk about children and adolescents. Our culture no longer subscribes to the notion that beatings are the best way to encourage good behavior by the young.

Rather, we emphasize the importance of rewards-of positive reinforcements. For example, DARE-the most popular drug education program, usually taught around fifth grade-involves classroom sessions, followed by a ceremony marking the students' new status as trained drug resistors. DARE graduates receive various trinkets-T-shirts, plastic wristbands featuring anti-drug slogans, or school supplies bearing the DARE logo-presumably on the theory that these will serve as status symbols and reminders of the program's message. Providing status enhancements to the young is also one way of enhancing self-esteem, one of the key pop-psychology concepts in recent decades.

Its advocates argue that most social ills are rooted in people's failure to think sufficiently well of themselves. Why do some kids use drugs? They have low self-esteem. Why do some teenagers get pregnant?

The Significance of Congratulatory Culture

You get the idea. If low self-esteem is at the root of most social problems, the argument goes, we might inoculate young people against those problems by enhancing their self-esteem. And one way to encourage people to think better of themselves is to tell them that they are well-regarded by others. Thus, advocates argue, enhancing people's status can be an important force for social good. One of the key patterns in social life is that advantages tend to be cumulative. Students from higher-income homes tend to receive higher grades in school-probably for all sorts of reasons e.

Those high-income, good-grade students tend to get more than their share of the status rewards their schools offer. But, the self-esteem argument goes, it is the low-income, low-status kids who could really benefit from status enhancements; they are the ones who, if only they felt better about themselves, might be steered away from drugs, dropping out, and other social problems.


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Since most of these students lack the advantages of their high-income classmates in the competition for good grades, other sorts of status need to be made available to recognize their worth and improve their self-esteem. We have already noted that social worlds tend to create status recognition for their members so that, as the number of social worlds grows, the amount of status also rises.

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This process is complemented by a range of ideological justifications for adding status rewards. Thus, there may be calls to recognize excellence, to single out those perform especially well.

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But rewarding one form of excellence invites other, democratizing justifications for allocating additional status. Aren't there other sorts of excellence that also deserve recognition?

And shouldn't we also encourage those who have not achieved excellence to do better? Shouldn't status be allocated so as to rectify inequalities, enhance self-esteem, and so on? The range of ideological rationales for awarding status, like the diversity of social worlds in which status can be earned, encourage expanding the overall amount of status.

Note, too, that establishing a new social world with its attendant status system allows further claims of distinction. Each world is able to declare its own superiority. As David Brooks observes: The crunchies who hike look down on the hunters who squat in the forest downing beers, and the hunters look down on the hikers who perch on logs smoking dope Nobody in this decentralized, fluid structure knows who is mainstream and who is alternative, who is elite and who is populist.

Status abundance goes unnoticed precisely because we tend to focus on status within particular worlds rather than on the total supply of status throughout society. Every world's members are likely to agree that some people within that world deserve respect, recognition, and appreciation for their accomplishments and contributions. Gaining such status recognition seems special, a mark of distinction. Within a particular world's confines, status may seem rare and valuable.

But, when we step back enough so that we can see society as a whole, we discover that supposedly special marks of status are becoming increasingly widespread. Is it possible that the trend toward status affluence cheapens the value of these marks of status? Free download. And for jackpot winners like Mr. Franco, the pressure comes nearly immediately.

Kurland, a lawyer who has represented several winners of large lottery jackpots, said on Wednesday. Kurland said, referring to the mail he receives intended for his clients. He also tells them to try to remove their address from public view as much as they can and to get new phone numbers.

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If there are children involved, he will hire security for the first couple of days. Kurland tries to help his clients retain some privacy after they win, but if privacy is hard to achieve in , anonymity is nearly impossible. Gidari said, adding that it was nearly impossible to transfer money in and out of the United States without disclosing who you are to the government. Gidari said.

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