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Summation Of “The New American Divide” By Charles Murray

1011 words - 5 pages

In his essay, “The New American Divide,” Charles Murray provides a more in depth look into the large gap that separates the classes in America, both financially and culturally, and how it has evolved over time. From the beginning, he emphasizes the dissolution of a “common civic culture” as previously widespread values such as marriage and a hard work ethic become less commonly held among the greater American populace. Even though the gap in wealth has always existed in America, in earlier eras there still existed a sense of cultural equality among the classes, or at least among the non-Latino white population. He states that Americans pride themselves in the idea of a cultural equality ...view middle of the document...

Murray explores the components of marriage, single parenthood, industriousness, crime, and religiosity with regards to both of these fictional towns to show the stark contrasts between them that have emerged over the past five decades on a wider, American scale.

In terms of marriage, large portions of both populations were married in 1960, but with time those populations decreased from 94% in Belmont to a stabilized 83% and from 84% in Fishtown to a still declining 48%. In contrast to marriage, single parenthood has increased in both neighborhoods, but specifically in Fishtown, where by 2008, 44% of all births were out of wedlock. In Belmont the percentage of nonmarital births is less than only 6% by 2008. Murray discusses how part of this trend between the two towns is attributed to that the higher a woman’s education is, the less likely they are to have a child out of wedlock.

With regards to industriousness, Murray points out how more women have entered the workforce since 1960, moving beyond the confines of the home, and for men the norm has remained relatively unchanged. However, this norm for men has “eroded everywhere,” being the most noticeable in Fishtown where fewer and fewer men find it necessary to find work (349). Where crime is concerned, Murray states that the increase in crime from 1960 to 1980 “left Belmont almost untouched and ravaged Fishtown” (350). Murray also illustrates the role a religious presence plays in America and the role it plays in bringing in capital, in that “religious Americans account for much more nonreligious social capital than their secular neighbors,” making the increasing secularism of towns like Fishtown “worrisome” (350).
All these components of culture have caused a divergence of the classes and put Belmont and Fishtown into practically separate cultures, argues Murray, and within the upper class has emerged a subgroup of elites that have risen to the top of society and essentially “run...

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