Dec. 26, 2020

177: The New Honor Code: A Simple Plan for Raising Our Standards and Restoring Our Good Names -with Grant McCracken

177: The New Honor Code: A Simple Plan for Raising Our Standards and Restoring Our Good Names -with Grant McCracken

What used to be shocking has somehow become the new normal in our politics, workplaces, and universities. Sexual predators stalk interns at work and teenagers abroad. Parents try to buy a place for their kids in college.
Pharmaceutical companies refuse to acknowledge the Opioid epidemic they helped create. Banks issue credit cards no one ordered, ruining the credit scores and reputations of thousands. It happens so frequently that we can no longer dismiss these cases as a few bad apples.

Clearly, something in the system is rotten.

Today's guest is cultural anthropologist Grant McCracken , who argues that while most Americans are committed to morality and share basic standards of decency, we’re also becoming inured to scandal and shame, and hopeless about the possibility of change.

What if we decided to fight it instead?

Grant McCracken has a solution—the revival of an ancient idea called honor.


What used to be shocking has somehow become the new normal in our politics, workplaces, and universities. Sexual predators stalk interns at work and teenagers abroad. Parents try to buy a place for their kids in college.
Pharmaceutical companies refuse to acknowledge the Opioid epidemic they helped create. Banks issue credit cards no one ordered, ruining the credit scores and reputations of thousands. It happens so frequently that we can no longer dismiss these cases as a few bad apples.

Clearly, something in the system is rotten.

Today's guest is cultural anthropologist Grant McCracken , who argues that while most Americans are committed to morality and share basic standards of decency, we’re also becoming inured to scandal and shame, and hopeless about the possibility of change.

What if we decided to fight it instead?

Grant McCracken has a solution—the revival of an ancient idea called honor.

BIO: Trained as an anthropologist (Ph.D. University of Chicago), Grant has studied American culture for 25 years. He started the Institute of Contemporary Culture at the Royal Ontario Museum, where he did the first museum exhibit on youth cultures and has taught at the University of Cambridge, MIT, and the Harvard Business School. He is a long-time student of culture and commerce. Many academics prefer to look askance at interactions of culture and commerce. He has explored this theme in two books: Culture and Consumption I,and Culture and Consumption II. He has also looked at how Americans invent and reinvent themselves. He had explored this theme in two more books: Big Hair and Transformations: identity construction in a contemporary culture. A student of American culture. Plenitude published in 1997 looked at the new explosive growth of contemporary culture. In Flock and Flow, he shows how contemporary culture and commerce change. Two years ago, he published a book called Chief Culture Officer with Basic Books that argues that culture now creates so much opportunity and danger for the organization that need senior managers who focus on it full time. He is hoping this will create a new occupational destination for graduates in the arts and humanities. This year Grant is affiliated with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard.

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