Posts Tagged sociology

Book Review: Never Saw It Coming

Review of Karen A. Cerulo (2006) Never Saw It Coming: Cultural Challenges to Envisioning the Worst. ISBN 9780226100333

This starts out so well, but wanders into such dubious and frankly mad territory that I can’t recommend it. The theme of the book is how we find it difficult to define or imagine the worst: in particular, worst outcomes such as business failure or loss of a child. Cerulo, a sociologist, argues that this asymmetry is part of our (Western, and USA in particular) culture.

This blindness to the worst has profound costs. In organisations, we have disasters like the Bay of Pigs, Hurricane Katrina or the 9/11 attacks. The banking crisis which occurred since the book was published may be the best illustration of all. At an individual level, people prepare inadequately for severe illness, death or other misfortune. Culturally, she claims, we resist anything that makes us think about the worst.
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