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A Culture of Second Chances: The Promise, Practice, and Price of Starting Over in Everyday Life

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This book examines the iconic presence of second chances in everyday life. David Newman explores its various iterations in popular culture, commercial marketplaces, religion, intimate relationships, education, criminal justice, and human bodies. He analyzes how this concept-as a cultural aspiration, driver of policy, and lived personal experience-has become part and parcel This book examines the iconic presence of second chances in everyday life. David Newman explores its various iterations in popular culture, commercial marketplaces, religion, intimate relationships, education, criminal justice, and human bodies. He analyzes how this concept-as a cultural aspiration, driver of policy, and lived personal experience-has become part and parcel of our individual sense of self and our collective national identity. While the rhetoric of redemption is familiar and ubiquitous, Newman uncovers the costs and constraints of second chances, paying particular attention to the factors that affect judgments of deservedness. Informed by an array of data sources including personal interviews, mission statements of nonprofit recovery agencies, images in popular culture, stories from the news, plot summaries of novels, and scriptural texts, Newman frames the second chance experience as the quintessential cultural paradox: a concept that simultaneously represents the pinnacle of our shared hopes for renewal and our deepest suspicions about the intransigence of human nature.


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This book examines the iconic presence of second chances in everyday life. David Newman explores its various iterations in popular culture, commercial marketplaces, religion, intimate relationships, education, criminal justice, and human bodies. He analyzes how this concept-as a cultural aspiration, driver of policy, and lived personal experience-has become part and parcel This book examines the iconic presence of second chances in everyday life. David Newman explores its various iterations in popular culture, commercial marketplaces, religion, intimate relationships, education, criminal justice, and human bodies. He analyzes how this concept-as a cultural aspiration, driver of policy, and lived personal experience-has become part and parcel of our individual sense of self and our collective national identity. While the rhetoric of redemption is familiar and ubiquitous, Newman uncovers the costs and constraints of second chances, paying particular attention to the factors that affect judgments of deservedness. Informed by an array of data sources including personal interviews, mission statements of nonprofit recovery agencies, images in popular culture, stories from the news, plot summaries of novels, and scriptural texts, Newman frames the second chance experience as the quintessential cultural paradox: a concept that simultaneously represents the pinnacle of our shared hopes for renewal and our deepest suspicions about the intransigence of human nature.

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