Re: Ch. 13 through 15 of Hillbilly Elegy
Well, there's succeeding and succeeding. I got into one of the top 10 departments of economics on sheer academic ability. But better social capital would have helped me navigate the shoals of grad school and have a better academic career afterward. I think the "escalator" of social mobility that is meritocracy will take a person out of troubled culture, but won't help them work out how to manage the issues of other people's emotions and personality, while social capital can really help a lot with that.
I think for people who want to figure in the establishment, those contacts are a crucial advantage. But as you say, it still takes moxie. If we just want to know what allows people from miserable backgrounds to attain to normalcy, I think we have to look to other pathways. Catching a good job can be work with the local power company, or finding a company where one's strengths matter a lot. But it certainly does seem that the same persistence and self-control that gets a person through college will be important in most of the ordinary jobs that poor people wish they had.
Interesting. I certainly had no clue. I think the name sounded vaguely Scandinavian to me. The drive that Indian parents pass on to their children is legendary. You rarely meet a slacker from Indian heritage here in Central Europe. I was very impressed with the way she mentored him, and it's a bit humorous that her immigrant heritage still left her with better understanding of upper class American ways than he had.
I wish all parents had the insight that Vance has on the other side of working through the effects of his turbulent and emotionally burdened childhood. It's probably okay to lose it now and then, but if it's in the context of a determination to manage one's troubles without damaging the kids, there's a lot that parents can do, before, during and after their moments of desperation. But of course if you are having the kind of life that goes from one train wreck to another, you probably aren't too swift at protecting your kids from that.